Chatterbox adds an Indian buffet
Chatterbox Restaurant on Reid Street was a bustling place. The coffee flowed, and the eatery did a lot of catering for the surrounding businesses.
All that changed when Covid-19 hit the world in March 2020.
“With many people still working from home, business has been down about 70 to 80 per cent,” said owner Anthony Fernandes.
He is sure that things will get better when more office staff finally return to working in Hamilton, but in the meantime, he has been forced to pivot to keep things going.
Instead of dialling back, he is moving forward, adding a lunchtime Indian buffet, and a soup and salad bar. Bonefish curry, vegetable samosas, and coriander lamb curry are just a few of the new Indian buffet offerings.
“Before this we were always about sandwiches and à la carte,” he said. “And we are still doing that, but we wanted to offer something more.”
On Sunday mornings they have always offered a popular codfish breakfast. Now they are adding to that with a Filipino buffet.
“We did that for the first time last Sunday and it was really popular,” Mr Fernandes said. “Sundays are usually pretty busy.”
Mr Fernandes said it is easy to get frustrated with the pandemic.
“But you can not be frustrated all the time,” he said. “You have to leave the frustration on one side and move forward. Thankfully, we are trying to rise up with some changes. Hopefully, it works. It is a big risk.”
Mr Fernandes is originally from Goa, India. He first came to Bermuda 22 years ago to run Chatterbox Café for then owner Wayne Furbert. In 2017, he was able to buy the restaurant.
He now employs two chefs and four Bermuda College students who work part-time.
“They are not in the hotel industry,” he said. “One wants to become a doctor and another does graphic art. They are all quite switched on. It helps them hold a part-time job, and eases up their parents a bit.”
The plan is to eventually extend the restaurant’s hours to 9pm on weekdays, when the weather warms up a bit. There is now some outdoor seating on Reid Street.
Mr Fernandes has also been impacted by global shipping delays, shortages and rising food costs.
“Certain items we can not put on the menu, because we can’t guarantee it every day,” he said. “Lately, we ordered flatbread for paninis, but that did not come. So we had to substitute with a different bread. Some customers get irritated and some understand, so it is a mixture.”
He used to offer free coffee refills, and extra butter and jam to his customers, but has had to stop that. Every penny counts now.
“You have to pay for both cups now,” he said. “The price of coffee has gone up for me by 10 per cent.”
Chatterbox Café is currently available for delivery on the Sargasso Sea and Five Star Delivery apps.
“People can order whatever they want,” Mr Fernandes said.
For more information see chatterbox.bm or call 295-3263.