Tobacco Bay happy hour selling out
The Tobacco Bay happy hour will be rocking again tonight after completely dodging the wrath of Hurricane Teddy on Monday.
Concession owner Dennie O'Connor of Beach Boys Ltd, was relieved and excited.
“We usually get damage,” Mr O'Connor said. “But because of the direction the storm was coming from, we were very protected. We opened on Tuesday and we are moving forward.”
The happy hours have been a rousing success since they began in August.
“They have been sold out for seven weeks in a row,” Mr O'Connor said. “I couldn't be happier with the turnout. Seeing everyone come together, still with such high spirits after such a rough year, puts a huge smile on my face.”
On Friday evenings, Tobacco Bay offers music by DJ Rusty G, soul food and local favourites by chef Chris Toah and Marci Smith, and additional entertainment. A bonfire is one of the highlights.
“We have one of the biggest bonfires on the island,” Mr O'Connor said. “It is a beautiful attraction as the sunsets. We don't do the marshmallows and all that, but we do have fire dancers.”
The happy hours are part of a push to appeal more to locals after Bermuda's tourism season was virtually cancelled due to the pandemic.
“We are at a bit of a disadvantage with the hotels not being open, but we are finding with our happy hour, we are able to get people down to the east,” Mr O'Connor said.
Tobacco Bay manager Jennifer Ysseldyke said the pandemic has meant a learning curve for the business.
“We have seen a decline in numbers, because of the tourists not coming,” she said. “In a strange way, it has forced us to open our eyes to more of a local demographic and change our approach in what we do. We have always been welcoming to locals, but we can do so even more now that our demographic changed.”
Mr O'Connor was grateful that Tobacco Bay can continue to operate and employ a 100 per cent Bermudian staff despite taking a hit from Covid-19.
“Adapting to the Covid-19 protocols has been a learning experience for everyone, but it has proved helpful and kept everyone safe, which is our main focus,” he said.
Other draws include mood music on Wednesdays, comedian Nadanja Bailey on Sunday, and an upgraded menu. This week's offerings include local lobster, sticky barbecue ribs, smoked beef sandwich, local fish sandwich on raisin bread, wahoo nuggets, and a summer platter that includes barbecue jerk chicken, macaroni and cheese, and apple slaw.
Mr O'Connor said summer is still going strong at Tobacco Bay. He was not sure yet when they would close for the winter. Last year, the concession closed on January 15.
“The temperature doesn't change that drastically until then,” Mr O'Connor said. “The venue is open for holiday parties. The beauty of Tobacco Bay is that it is an intimate setting when it needs to be. It allows us to stay compliant with the Covid-19 protocols with not having more than 75 people.”
Mr O'Connor is hoping the government will soon allow them to have up to 100 people at a time.
He has been running Tobacco Bay for the last six years and also has Snorkel Park Beach Club in Dockyard.
This year travel website TripAdvisor gave Tobacco Bay the TripAdvisor's 2020 Travelers' Choice Best of the Best award. They were also named number three out of 53 attractions in Bermuda.
Ms Ysseldyke would like to see the east end of the island promoted more.
“St George's is a hidden gem,” Ms Ysseldyke said. “It might be a little bit out of the way for most people, but nothing beats the quaintness and charm and being able to escape for a little bit. It would be a blessing if the ferry was running to St George's. We haven't had the ferry at all since Covid-19.”
Mr O'Connor was looking forward to the St Regis Bermuda Hotel coming on board in St George's in April 2021.
Friday night happy hour is from 5pm to 10pm. There is no charge, but reservations are requested.
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