Brian had done as he had said and had visited the beach bar at lunch and had eaten a cheeseburger and had a Banks beer while sitting at the bar on a stool. He had observed the steady stream of customers coming off the beach for a drink or a lunchtime snack. His quarter-pound burger had been freshly cooked, packed with fresh salad and very tasty. Eventually he got chatting to Anderson who recognised him as being in Jinnie’s party the previous evening. Brain was delighted to see that the bar had modern electronic tills that doubled as order stations and relayed food orders to a big screen in the kitchen area where a couple of chefs were busy toiling.
Brian and Anderson talked about a dark kitchen and how their ones worked in the U.K. with a joint call centre, distributing the orders to the various kitchens electronically and the orders being collated in dispatch before being allocated to a van driver or a moped rider. Anderson was full of detailed questions most of which Brain was able to answer. However exact financial details were impossible to answer as no site for the kitchen or development cost had been decided. However, Brian did point out they had a no-competition rule amongst kitchens if he were to join them, his kitchen would have the exclusive rights to seafood but he wouldn’t be able to sell burgers or fried chicken for delivery as other kitchens would have that franchise.
Anderson asked about kitchen fit-out and Brian explained they had a company in the U.K. who would do the design work based on Anderson’s specification, but a local contractor would carry out the actual work. He then asked Brian if they had appointed a contractor yet as his cousin Keith’s company had fitted out the beach cafe/restaurant and he was delighted with the work. Brain explained that it was very early in the process, and they hadn’t even started looking for premises yet, but if he would give him his cousin’s company details, he would ensure they got to the right person.
Brian also suggested to Anderson that with him on board they would have probably accounted for four of the six kitchens and if he knew anyone else amongst his restaurant friends who might be interested, he might like to have a very discreet word with them as they didn’t want news of the venture leaking just yet. Brian explained that as well as his seafood venture, there was a burger business, a chicken specialty business and a high-end restaurant so those outlets should be avoided. On leaving, Brian and Anderson shook hands and as he walked back to his car Brian reflected that he thought Anderson was an astute businessman and his was a business likely to succeed with a delivery kitchen.
Belinda had visited the three companies who advertised themselves as refurbishment contractors and driving back to the hotel she decided that only one of the three came up to scratch. The first place she had visited had really been a jobbing builder who had done a couple of retail shop refurbishments where he had redecorated, fitted display units and a toilet but nothing on the scale she was looking for. The second place had possibilities. The man she had met with definitely knew what he was talking about but the company was only small and did some of the work themselves but brought in specialist contractors for electrics, data, plumbing and air conditioning. The man told her that they carefully chose their sub-contractors and had worked with the same ones for several years. He had offered to take her to see her choice from a list of clients and Belinda was waiting for a call back with arrangements to visit a hotel kitchen and restaurant he had worked on. She considered this similar to the Continental and the delivery kitchens. Belinda didn’t mind that he subbed out specialists’ work, she had always done that.
Belinda had hated the third contractor from the moment she walked in the door. It was just like visiting one of the big London refurbishment businesses who she detested. A uniformed receptionist glared over her computer at Belinda and, as she waited to be taken to a meeting room, she looked at the glossy photos that lined the reception walls. They all looked the same, the corporate offices of banks, insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Only the corporate colour schemes were different, they all seemed to have the same style of desks and chairs. After chatting to someone, who Belinda guessed was a salesman, it emerged that the company was the subsidiary of one of the big London contractors and most of the design work was done in London. Their projects were mostly for the Caribbean branches of British businesses. When Belinda asked about commercial kitchens and restaurants, she was shown pictures of a staff canteen. No, company number three was definitely not on her preferred contractor list.
As Belinda walked across the hotel car park her mobile rang and she saw that it was her husband calling. She said, “Hello darling, how was lunch?” “Pretty good, and Anderson is a nice guy with his head screwed on. I didn’t broach him joining, becoming a 10% owner of the Barbados dark kitchen. I think I will leave that to Alberto and Jinnie, but I reckon he would make a damn good junior partner. Anyway, where are you?” “In the hotel car park about to go and get the room key,” replied Belinda. “Don’t bother,” said Brian, “It’s in my pocket, come and join me in the cafe/bar. The tea is quite good, and they do a fantastic rum cake.”
Belinda agreed about the rum cake and thought that the tea wasn’t bad, at least it came in a pot, with PG Tips tea bags in what had been boiling water – one advantage of Barbados’s Commonwealth status. Having holidayed in the US she had learned to avoid places that served a Lipton’s tea bag in the saucer of a cup of warm water. That wasn’t tea. She told Brian of her day so far day and how only one of the companies had come anywhere near being on a shortlist. She said, “I must ring around and make some more appointments for tomorrow.”
Brian pulled a paper napkin from his pocket with the details of Anderson’s cousin’s company written on it. Handing the napkin to Belinda, he explained that it was Anderson’s cousin who had refurbished the beach restaurant and had apparently done a good job installing everything from the kitchen and ordering system to decorations and furniture. Belinda said, “It’s nice to get a recommendation, I’ll ring him when I’ve finished my tea.”
Before Belinda could finish her tea, her phone rang again. This time it was Jinnie. “Hi Belinda, we have been talking to the owner of Aunty JoJo’s and it looks like we could be on for a joint venture on a similar basis to how we set up DKL, with her putting in the business and us matching it with cash. They also have been thinking of expanding to a second business and have identified a site near Rockley Beach. Would it be possible for you to meet up with Brooke and Patricia, Aunty JoJo’s owner, to visit the site first thing tomorrow morning? We need you and Brooke to give it a once-over to get an idea of costs and whether it’s a viable site.”
“Is Brian anywhere near you?” Jinnie asked. Belinda answered, “Yes he’s right here, hold on and I will pass my phone to him.” “Hello Jinnie,” said Brian. Jinnie quickly got down to business, “You probably heard me telling Belinda we have shaken hands on a deal to set up a joint venture with Aunty JoJo’s. The deal is a 50/50 joint venture with them putting in the business and us putting in the equivalent cash. Belinda and Brooke are off to look at a possible second branch in the morning and they have agreed we can look at the books so we can agree a value. Belinda and Brooke are set to meet at Aunty JoJo’s tomorrow morning with Patricia the owner. Could you be at Aunty JoJo’s at nine-thirty tomorrow and Patrica will give you access to the accounts. You’ll be happy to know that these are on a fully computerised modern system. Unlike the Continental, the business is in fine repair, and we would need to spend nothing on refurbishing the branch.”
Jinnie headed back to the villa which was delightfully quiet. Izzy and the twins were on the beach, and the other adults were at the embassy. She decided she would make the lobster Ravioli for dinner she had talked about with Anderson. She had two cooked lobsters in the fridge that she had brought home from the beach restaurant last night. Looking at her cheap holiday watch, she decided there was plenty of time, so she sat down in an armchair and read through the report from the BPS on the raid on Dwayne’s home. She was inclined to agree with the conclusion, Dwayne had abandoned the house, and his cat, before the attack and was lying low somewhere on the island with several more drones.
While rolling the pasta, Jinnie’s mind was on the problem of where Dwayne was. By the time she had cut out the round raviolis, something the twins loved to do, she had concluded that he would eventually give himself away, possibly by the BPS spotting his car, but more likely it would be on the internet. She decided to have yet another look through his Facebook friends just as soon as the pasta was ready to be cooked and stored in the fridge.
Jinnie was still looking through Facebook when the twins burst into the room and rushed over to her. They were full of their day on the beach where they had been swimming in the sea and Izzy was anxious to get them showered and changed before dinner. With the twins out of the way, Jinnie returned to finish her Facebook search. A new photo posted by a Facebook friend caught her eye it was titled, ‘Jus Chillin with cousin James’. But it was ‘cousin James’ who caught her eye, she would swear it was Dwayne.
Grabbing her phone, she hit her sister’s speed dial number. “Hi Sis, what’s up?” answered Penny. “I think I’ve got a lead on Dwayne,” replied Jinnie. “Really,” said Penny. Jinnie explained about the photo on Facebook and directed Penny to it. “Well, if it isn’t him,” said Penny, “it’s his double.” Then Jinnie heard Penny call, “Hey people, come and look at this. It looks like Jinnie has found a lead to Dwayne.” She also heard Lenny say, “Well, it sure looks like him. Where is the bar?” “Speightstown,” replied Jinnie. “Well, I suppose we better hand this over to the BPS,” Jinnie heard her sister say. “We can’t get the friend’s address out of Facebook whereas the BPS probably can. No doubt they will raid his address and hopefully Dwayne will be there, or his friend will know where he is.”
Jinnie was telling her sister that dinner was made, and it was pasta. It was in the fridge and only needed a few minutes in boiling water when the three of them got home. In the background she could hear Dan on the phone to the police. Then she heard him say, “Right everyone, they are going to take it from here, there’s nothing we can do tonight so let’s go home and see what tomorrow brings.” Penny said, “Did you hear that? Reckon on us being home in 20 minutes.” “OK,” said Jinnie, “Dinner will be in 30 minutes.”
Alberto and Brooke deliberately arrived twenty minutes early for their dinner booking to see how the staff reacted. The receptionist immediately informed them that their table wasn’t ready for them quite yet, but perhaps they would like to have a drink in the bar while waiting. Brooke was driving, so she asked for a Pepsi Max. The barman told her that unfortunately they didn’t stock Pepsi, but he could offer a Coke Zero which was the Coca Cola equivalent and Alberto ordered a half pint of Banks draught. The drinks arrived swiftly, and the pair took in their surroundings. So far Jinnie’s assessment was correct, the service was good, but the bar had seen better days.
They were shown to their table at least ten minutes before their booking time, which was a big tick from Alberto. The table was pleasant, but obviously not one of the very best. Having perused the menu and made their choices they spent the short while before the waiter arrived to take their order taking in their surroundings. Once again, they agreed with Jinnie a major refresh was necessary. Brooke turned up her nose at the soft furnishings, saying they were not to her taste and needed to be ripped out and replaced.
For a starter, Brooke chose cured salmon with prawns, pickled salad & dill lime crème fraiche, while Alberto had tomato and basil soup. For their main courses, Alberto had pan-seared scallops in a lemon butter sauce with a fresh garden salad and Brooke picked minted lamb cutlets with sautéed potatoes, asparagus and honey roast carrots. The food was beautifully presented and extremely tasty. Alberto said to Brooke, “The quality of the food and service makes up for the shabby surroundings.”
For desserts, Alberto couldn’t help returning to his Italian roots and chose layered tiramisu cake, and Brooke had a lemon soufflé. Finally, they remembered the warning about the coffee and asked for tea which arrived in a metal teapot. Alberto asked Brooke what she thought, and she replied, “Well, the good certainly outweighed the bad. No, I’ll rephrase that not bad, but poor. The food and service were excellent, but as Jinnie said the place is in desperate need of a refurbishment. If the food wasn’t so good, I doubt the place would be so busy.” “I totally agree,” said Alberto, “fortunately the refurbishment is easily fixed, if the food or service were poor that would be much harder to fix. Once again, I must say Jinnie has sniffed out another jewel that just needs polishing to glow brightly. I will be voting to proceed with this project provided the finances add up.”
Jinnie wished she could join Belinda and Brooke’s visit to see the potential Rockley branch or spend the day on the beach with the twins and their nanny, but she felt she really needed to go to the embassy today. As with previous days, Lenny was already there and the jug of coffee was waiting. Paolo followed her into the room and headed straight to the coffee and biscuits. Jinnie chuckled to herself when the thought that Lenny made far better coffee than the Continental restaurant entered her head.
Jinnie had only just poured her coffee and switched on her computer when Dan and Penny bustled in. Dan was waving his phone and called, “They’ve got him. Senior Superintendent Griffith has just rung me. They raided his friend’s house at four this morning and Dwayne was asleep in the spare room. They will be interrogating him as soon as his lawyer arrives. It seems that it was impossible to contact the lawyer until he turned up for work this morning. Apparently, a search has turned nothing up as yet. Griffith has thanked us for our help and promised to keep us informed of developments. He specifically mentioned the forensics and anything that might come out of the interrogation.”
Jinnie asked no one in particular, “Does that make us redundant?” Penny said, “I don’t know, we are only here because the BPS asked for our assistance. Now we have found the main culprit for them it sounds like the BPS have dismissed us, but I guess it’s up to London to stand us down.” Dan took over saying, “I better phone the London ops room, I doubt they know that Holding has been arrested, it’s not been made public knowledge in case they get lines on his accomplices.”
Dan was on the red phone for some time before turning to the group and saying, “They caught ‘C’ at lunch in the director’s dining room. He says that we should enjoy our holidays, but to not clear this room and to be ready as he has a suspicion we will be required again. Penny, ‘C’ says that every leave day we worked has earned us two extra leave days. God knows how he will compensate Jinnie and Paolo.” Lenny laughed and said, “It looks like for me it’s all been in a day’s work. I suggest that you hang on to embassy cars and weapons until the end of your holidays. It will be too much like hard work to do all the paperwork to check them back in and then out again if we are needed.”
Jinnie nodded to Paolo and said to Lenny, “Well, if nothing else we can reward you, maybe not yet, but in a couple of months. While we have been here, I have been negotiating to buy a high-class restaurant. The deal hasn’t been signed yet and when it is we will close for a while for refurbishment, but Paolo and I will definitely be back for the reopening, and we would be delighted if you would join us for a meal at what is going to be the best restaurant on the island and the first in a chain.” “I’d like that,” said Lenny, “and I know my wife would adore it.”
It was mid-morning when Jinnie and Paolo, Dan and Penny walked onto the beach. As usual Izzy was under an umbrella reading a paperback while keeping an eye on the twins who were busy digging a big hole at the water’s edge. The four said hello to Izzy and before sitting down on a spare lounger, Jinnie wandered down the beach and tried to creep up on the twins before they saw her. She was within two yards of making it when Millie looked up, saw her, and shouted, “Mummy,” “Hi kids,” said Jinnie, “what are you doing?” “Digging our own swimming pool,” Millie replied. “We are going to dig a river to let the sea in,” added Willie.
Jinnie joined the other adults and relaxed for a while until her phone pinged with a message from Alberto reporting on last night’s meal at the Continental. He praised the food and service suggested one or two menu changes and additions, and agreed that a refurbishment was badly needed. He added that he had not seen the kitchen but with the quality of food he expected to find, it was in good order. In summary he concluded it looked an excellent investment and would be supporting it when the board voted. Jinnie sighed contentedly and settled back in the sun.
Shortly after a snack lunch, Jinnie’s mobile awoke her from a nap. Looking at the screen she saw it was Belinda. “Hi Belinda,” she quickly answered, “how did it go this morning?” “Pretty well,” replied Belinda “Obviously I was only looking at the building and the amount of work necessary to make it into a branch of Aunty JoJo’s, but it is bang on the busiest stretch of Rockley beach that was packed with both locals and tourists, but I’m sure Brooke will fill you in on location and trade prospects. As for the restaurant, it is closed for the moment as the owner has had a stroke and is looking to sell to raise money for his care. The place is big, far bigger than I expected and has a grassed children’s play area with swings, slides and climbing frames. There are also twenty or so of those fixed picnic table/benches in the garden. Say six people per table that’s 120 covers.”
Belinda continued, “Inside it is bright, clean and modern, the seating and tables are good, the flooring looks new, and the air conditioning was very effective. Even the toilets just need a repaint. As far as refurbishment work is concerned, the public areas really only need redecorating in corporate colours and we will need new signage, inside and out. There is currently space for about a hundred covers inside but Brooke, Patricia and I think we need to lose, perhaps, as many as twenty to set up a decent size takeaway counter and we may have to modify the entrance to accommodate the takeaway. I have sketched some ideas and will send them to Andrew shortly, only when we have got designs and some local costings back and agreed, can I give you all a final price and work schedule. Oh, the kitchens, they were clean and modern, mainly tiled, as for the equipment I think Brooke and Patricia want to talk to you about that. But to summarise, from a refurbishment point of view, it should be easy and quick. I think the long lead items will be the takeaway counter and outside signage.”
Brooke took over the call and said, “Hi Jinnie, Pattie has gone inside to check on Brian, so while Belinda and I are on our own let me say, I am very impressed with Pattie. She has a got grip of what is needed in a new branch and has picked a perfect business. The beach is very busy in the day and the local restaurants were doing a roaring trade. I drove about a bit and just behind the beach are several offices and businesses with what looks like some new low-rise office blocks going up. Pattie tells me that it has been designated a business development area. Then behind that are a few nice suburbs. It looks a great area to trade in.”
“As for the kitchen and restaurant,” Brooke continued, “we all agree that a big takeaway counter is necessary. Pattie says that there is a need for a couple of extra big deep-fat fryers, and they could take out some of the existing desserts section, the only really sell bought-in ice cream, cheesecake and apple pies. The only desserts they make are waffles and pancakes and there should be room for that. I think it would make an excellent second branch, but it will all depend on the costs and what Brian thinks of the books. Talking of which he wants a word.”
Jinnie could hear Brook handing Belinda’s iPhone over to Brian who said, “Right Jinnie, an interesting morning. The books look good, they make a healthy operating profit, pay decent wages, reinvest a fair proportion of profits in maintenance, and bonuses for the staff who are a happy stable bunch. The taxes and VAT look to be bang on. I can see exactly what Patricia told you, they make a good profit but much of it is ploughed back into the business not leaving quite enough to expand to another branch of the same standard.”
Brian added, “The problem is this branch is just too small to generate sufficient cash to expand. They are working to capacity here. An outside cash injection is what Aunty JoJo’s needs if the business is not to borrow. I reckon any bank would be delighted to lend the business money, but Patricia is adamant that is something she is dead set against. My suggestion would be do exactly what you have suggested, set up a joint venture and use the cash we put in to build the second branch. When the profits roll in and from what I hear from Belinda and Brooke they are confident they will, I would suggest we see if we can expand this branch. Standing here looking across the road I wonder if the franchise holder of the KFC might want to get out. I think it would be perfect to move Aunty JoJo’s over the road.”
Over the next few days, the family enjoyed their holiday, swimming in the villa’s pool and the warm sea, sunbathing, eating, and generally relaxing.
In Chapter 9 – B2 is recalled
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