Village vendors cope with massive demand
It started with a bang and it finished with a bang for vendors at the America’s Cup Village.
The five-week international sailing extravaganza kept local food concession kiosks on their toes throughout, with weekends particularly busy as thousands of people visited the venue at Dockyard for the racing and associated early evening entertainment.
The final Saturday, which featured America’s Cup racing followed by a performance from Grammy-award winning artist Ne-Yo, saw the Village filled from late morning until 10pm.
Throughout the day a range of Bermudian-operated concessions at the Village were tested to the limit by the swell of customers seeking food and drink.
Sunday and Monday, which proved to be the final two days of the racing competition, were almost equally as busy.
The pressure of keeping up with the demand day after day was exhausting, but local staff kept going and remained enthusiastic.
“It might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. We are rotating the staff, and everyone loves coming back up here,” said Lindsay Simmons, director of operations at Rosa’s.
The restaurant’s counter-service concession proved popular, and on the busiest days served an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 customers.
On Saturday it opened from 9am until 10pm. Long shifts have been part and parcel of the experience. The staff have worked on a rotation basis, with between six to 12 on duty.
Ms Simmons said: “We have managed to keep up. We can turn the food around fast and it has been an enormous advantage being a restaurant.”
Fish and chips, fish sandwiches and cheeseburgers were the most popular orders.
To cope with the demand, Rosa’s hired some additional summer students. And Ms Simmons said the kitchen staff had been amazing.
She said all the vendors at the America’s Cup Village appeared to have done well, adding: “It has been a great opportunity for everyone.”
Nearby, the Savory Kernels concession offered a variety of flavoured popcorns.
The Bermudian business has been operating for less than a year, but has proven popular with locals, opening an outlet in Hamilton and expanding to St George within a few months.
It has the ability to offer more than 70 different flavours of popcorn, but the most popular choice with locals and overseas visitors at the Village turned out to be the tried and true traditional options of plain, sea salt and buttery.
Among the more exotic choices, Bermuda Longtail — a mixture of coconut and vanilla flavouring — was well received.
Savoury Kernels occupied one end of a terrace of gazebos, with Ashley’s Lemonade and Sweet Stixx its neighbours.
Deshun Simmons, co-owner of Savory Kernels, said: “It has been a great opportunity to click with the other vendors.
“The weekends have been surprisingly busy. We have a lot of visitors and Bermudian customers who have not known about our shops, so this has helped push more business to the shops.”
The business has taken on an extra four part-time staff to assist with the demands of the America’s Cup and the generally busier summer months.
Everything went well at the event village, although during the first few days the concession did encounter a few temporary shortages.
Reflecting on the event, Mr Simmons said the opening day in particular, which featured a show highlighting Bermudian imagery and traditions, including Gombeys, had made him proud to be Bermudian.
He added: “It has put Bermuda in the spotlight, and everything has been running smoothly.”
On the jam-packed final Saturday, Bermuda Pie Company was kept busy from morning until 10pm when it cooked and sold its last pie of the day. The month-long event brought many such days.
The company can cook a fresh batch of pies in 25 minutes, and that was a useful turnaround rate during the busiest periods, which included days of non-stop baking of pies to meet demand.
“Everything is made from scratch right here, and we’ve found that because of the reputation of our pies, people are willing to wait if need be,” said Christian Pierce, who was manning the counter on Monday. The business is owned by his cousin Kris Furbert.
The bestselling choices during the America’s Cup were chicken pies, meat pies and the seafood pies. Mr Pierce said the number of pies sold on average per day was “substantial”.
He added that the America’s Cup has provided “a wonderful opportunity” for many people on the island.