NEW businesses are emerging in Trinidad and Tobago, despite the economic fallout caused by Covid-19 and one such business is the Mansion restaurant located at the corner of Maraval Road and Rust Street in St Clair.
The Mansion restaurant is a subsidiary of NCG Enterprises and opened its doors to the public last week.
The brainchild behind this project is 37-year-old Nicole Crystal George, a real estate agent and entrepreneur.
George, a Woodbrook resident, told the Express Business, that many people first ask what NCG Enterprises stands for and she explained the initials are her name. George said she has no investors or board of directors and is the sole operator and chief executive officer of the group of companies.
The multi-industry company owns and operates businesses dealing with:
—Construction, building, and design;
—Entertainment and events;
—Imports and exports
Giving an account of how the restaurant venture started, George said she purchased the two-storey building with a 500-person capacity per floor through NCG Enterprises.
George said she turned the building into Mansion nightclub on one floor and on the second floor it was transformed into a cigar lounge along with an outside bar, which was launched in March just before the March 23 lockdown imposed by the Government to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“I know I had to keep changing my strategy as to how my business survives during the pandemic. So when the lockdown came into effect, I shifted my staff to the other businesses under NCG Enterprises, which has been operational for four years.
“Then when it was announced that nightclubs would not be open anytime soon and that bars will only be on a grab and go basis, I decided to open a restaurant at the side of the building.”
The entrepreneur said now is not the time to sit down and expect handouts, as business people have to be a step ahead of the pandemic and try to diversify. That, she said is the only way someone’s business will stay afloat.
Asked whether she thought the corner of Maraval Road and Rust Street was an ideal location to open up a new business, George replied: “Why not? Maraval Road is commercialised with several businesses in and around the St Clair district, so we decided that adding another eating place would then give customers another option, apart from the other food outlets in the area.”
As to the cost of the property, George said she preferred not to divulge that information.
In terms of the menu options, George said Mansion offers a wide range for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Local food can also be purchased.
“The pricing was also done carefully as we know the economic constraints some people are going through. This means you need to have different prices to suit everyone’s pocket and weekly specials will also be launched soon.
“We only opened last week and Mansion restaurant already has a steady flow of customers. We are also doing free deliveries which is a plus in these times as many people want to limit the amount of places they go to during the pandemic.”
George quickly stated that the company follows strict compliance with Covid-19 regulations in order to guarantee the safety of staff and customers.
“We allow for sanitisation station, the washing of hands, hand sanitiser dispensers as well as social distancing demarcations.”
She highlighted that eight workers are currently employed at the establishment and some of them came from restaurants that closed their doors during the pandemic.
George added that the workers were trained especially with Covid-19 protocols and proper customer service etiquette.
Several popular restaurants, including Jaffa’s and J Malone, closed their doors as a result of the pandemic as many said the three-month-long lockdown placed a serious economic constraint on their businesses. Therefore they were unable to meet their monthly overhead expenses along with paying staff.