Jinnie’s Story – Book Six, Chapter Twenty-Three

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WorthingGooner, Going Postal

On the evening of the last day of the cruise, as usual, everyone gathered on the balcony outside Jinnie’s cabin for their pre-dinner drink and canapés. For once the twins were with them, Izzy had managed to wean them away from Shaun the Sheep early and they were telling Granny and Grandpa that they had bought a load of Pick n’ Mix in the ship’s shop for the Reef Rangers and Lilly had kissed them goodbye. Jinnie called for a toast to a wonderful holiday, and everyone drank to that. Then she said, “I have something to tell you, Paolo and I have loved the time on board so much we slipped down to the future cruise sales desk and have booked for next Christmas and New Year. It is on a different P&O ship; a new, bigger ship and we are going to a lot of different islands. But best of all we had booked for all the family, it’s our treat, so it looks like we will all be missing the family Boxing Bay trip to see Barnet play and to eat in Trattoria Trevi, and Father Christmas will have to search for us again.”

When the party had finished dinner, it was agreed that it would be a single last drink in the Crow’s Nest and then back to their suites to finalise the packing. They had to have their hold bags outside their suite cabin doors by midnight. Then they would be collected by stewards and taken to a bonded luggage room where it was stored by flight number. Once the ship docked in Bridgetown the luggage was offloaded in wire cages and transported to the airport. The luggage was loaded directly onto the flight home and the next time the family saw it, would be when it emerged onto the baggage carousel at Gatwick.

The twins were asleep when Jinnie and Paolo relieved Izzy who went to put her last-minute things in her case and put it out. Jinnie put the last bits and pieces in their cases and Paolo made sure the address labels were correct and put the cases out. The twins’ PJs could go in their Paw Patrol backpacks and their travelling clothes were laid out for the morning, including pullovers and jackets as the January weather back in England was chilly according to Sky News International on the cabin TV.

They were docked at the cruise terminal in Bridgetown when Jinnie pulled back the curtains the next morning. They were supposed to be out of the suite by 08:00 but Ajay had told them he was happy for them to leave their hand baggage there while they had breakfast just so long as they didn’t mind him stripping the beds and towels ready for the next passengers who would be joining later that day. After breakfast, the family was on one last round the island sightseeing tour which stopped at several points, including lunch, before dropping them off at the airport in plenty of time to check in for their flight home. They had discussed the alternatives open to them, this tour, staying on board the ship in the public areas, or paying for a day cabin, and waiting for transportation to the airport. It was decided that if they stayed on the ship the twins would want to go swimming and that would mean a day cabin and that would be almost the same price as the final excursion.


As it turned out the excursion was excellent, they saw where Rihanna had been born, where she lived now, in the same block as David and Victoria Beckham’s holiday home.

They visited a couple of lovely viewpoints, a beautiful parish church, a pleasant restaurant where they had a most enjoyable lunch on the terrace and finally a nearly deserted beach on the Atlantic side of the island where the sea was rough and a few local children frolicked at the water’s edge. Jinnie thought it a wonder that no one had developed a hotel there, but the courier explained that it was a national park and building was strictly controlled. Fortunately for the twins, there was a mobile ice cream vendor where they stopped.

It was easy checking in at the airport without luggage as they had been given boarding cards back on the ship, so it was only a matter of showing them and their passports and passing through security. In the departure lounge they still had a two-and-a-half-hour wait before their departure, so Jinnie got everyone settled down comfortably to wait and wandered off to have a look at the two new group food outlets. The first thing she saw was a queue outside the Aunty JoJo’s branch. Unsurprisingly it appeared to be 98% local inter-island travellers. But equally satisfying was the number of people waiting to be served at the Artisan Sandwich counter. This queue was as white as the Aunty JoJo’s was black.

Jinnie looked around and recognised several people from the ship tucking into sandwiches and coffee at the tables in front of the outlet. One of the couples she had spoken to several times on the ship waved to her and she walked over to chat with them, but what she really wanted to know was what did they think of the offering. Jinnie said hello and they asked where the twins were. Jinnie explained they were settled down happily watching ‘Shaun the Sheep’ on their tablets, so she had gone for a stroll to check out the departure lounge. The wife said they had also gone for a look around and after buying some rum cake to take home had stumbled on this place.

The husband took over saying they often used their local Artisan Sandwiches outlet at home and had been delighted to see this one had opened since they had been here last Christmas. He went on to say, he loved the food on the cruise and had sometimes had one of the ship’s Grab and Go sandwiches at lunchtime, but although nice they just didn’t compare to this, and waved a ham salad on crusty white bread. Jinnie smiled and said, “Yes, I know the chain quite well and find they are pretty good.” Just then a voice behind her said, “Hello Boss,” and Jinnie turned round to see Monica standing there with a Security Pass on a lanyard around her neck and wearing a badge that proclaimed, ‘Aunty JoJo’s & Artisan Sandwiches, Monica – Area Manager.’

Jinnie made her excuses to the couple and slipped away to an empty table with Monica, who quickly explained that she had been on the lookout for Jinnie as she knew she would not be able keep away from work. Jinnie laughed and said, “You know me too well.” Monica said, “And you want to know how’s business going.” “Of course,” replied Jinnie. “Well, look around,” said Monica, “It’s been like this since we opened and it’s like this until they call the last flights of the day. When the flights go out to the US it’s all turkey and cranberry sandwiches, and at this time when the flights go out to England it’s mostly ham or beef. As the flights go to the rest of the islands all day, Aunty JoJo’s is always busy. So, to answer your question, although we have not been open a fortnight yet business is tremendous.”

Monica continued, “Patricia and Brooke are on St Lucia trying to get an outlet at the airport there. It’s not the most populous island but it gets loads of visitors and Patricia heard there was an outlet available at the airport. They are also going to look to see if they think an Aunty JoJo’s would work in Castries and Bisee, they are the only biggish towns and if Keith is going to the airport, we might be able to set up there as well.” “Great,” replied Jinnie, “I’m all for expansion. Are they looking anywhere else?”

“They have already identified a possible new branch in Oistins and talked to the board about it. We have been given the OK to sort out the costing. I think they would have said get on with it if you had been there, but they are reluctant to do anything without your OK.” Jinnie thought, ‘The board really is timid. They always need hand-holding by Brian and me,’ but she said, “Anything else?” “Oh yes,” answered Monica, “They are also going to Grenada, but I told them there is only one biggish town there, St George’s, so I think we would also need an airport outlet to make it worthwhile. I told them that if we are not ready to move on the northern Caribbean we should be looking at Trinidad, it has a big population, there are over 80,000 in Port of Spain, San Fernando and Chaguanas, we could have three or four branches in each and there are many other big towns, and the airport is a big Caribbean hub with flights to the US, Canada and the U.K.”

“Do you know how big KFC is in Trinidad?” Jinnie asked, “I’m not sure,” replied Monica, “but it’s over 50.” “Gosh,” replied Jinnie, “I think I agree with you, we should be looking at Trinidad, we know that most people prefer us to KFC when they try both. I also want to try it in the U.K. When Brooke and I get home, I think we can start looking for our first restaurant. How would you like to join us for a couple of weeks? I’m sure you can help, and you can visit our chain of sandwich shops. I want you to eventually run the Caribbean businesses as MD with Patricia as chairman. She has told me she would like to step back from the day-to-day company administration as it grows. She sees herself as the guiding hand and you running Aunty JoJo’s, sandwich shops and anything else we might branch into. What do you think?”

“I’d love that,” said Monica, “I have several ideas, like I don’t think we make enough of desserts, we could do rum cake, hummingbird cake, gizzard, bread pudding, tembleque, coconut sugar cakes, pineapple tarts and I haven’t even mentioned ice cream.” “I didn’t know you liked bread pudding?” said Jinnie. “It’s popular all over the Caribbean and every island has a slightly different version,” replied Monica. Jinnie thought for a few seconds then said, “Write me a costed report, and we’ll talk about it when you come to England. Do you think we could do our own ice cream parlours or just sell it in Aunty JoJo’s branches?” “Both,” said Monica, “but most of the desserts could be sold in the restaurants or at the takeaway counters.”


The family had the same seats as on the way out and of course, the twins got window seats. The big difference this time was that it was an overnight flight with dinner, a sleep and breakfast before landing at Gatwick around 5 am. As Jinnie sipped her pre-take-off drink, her mind went back over her conversation with Monica. The more she saw of her the more impressed she was. Selling more desserts was so obvious now Monica had pointed it out, but no one else had thought about it. Yes, she was a Bajan version of Brooke. As she thought, she wondered if anyone sold Caribbean desserts in England. If they tried them at the shop she wanted to open in Brixton, and they went well, she was ready to sell them across the country in any chain they could build. Could they make them in the Dark Kitchen, like they did the cakes for Artisan Sandwiches? Was there a market outside the Caribbean immigrants? She tucked that away in the back of her mind as ‘one for the future’.

The plane taxied out and took off and Willie cried out, “There’s our ship,” as the plane flew over Bridgetown. Jinnie closed her eyes, and her mind went back to work on her business plans. As she had not received any panic phone calls while away, she guessed everything was OK, but she was anxious to hear how Christmas and New Year trading had gone in the U.K. She knew things were good at Aunty JoJo’s and the Artisan Sandwich shop at the airport seemed to have got off on the right foot. Monica seemed to be on the ball and with Brooke out there looking at new sites she was happy with the Caribbean takeaway business.

Jinnie’s thoughts switched to TT Continental, she had no worries there, the business was doing well, it was just a pity that despite wanting to look for possible targets to expand the business onto other Islands it had proved impossible to be looking while on holiday. It would have been unfair on all the rest of the family. But she had heard what Monica had said about islands with bigger populations. From her memory that meant Trinidad, Jamaica, The Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba. She wondered about Puerto Rico, but it was American and that might not be so easy to crack. And Cuba was communist, so it was probably out of the question. Did Haiti have enough wealthy inhabitants to justify an investment?

Thinking about wealthy islands she wondered if the Cayman Islands were worth a look, wealthy bankers were always a good market. Then there had been all those yachts in Tortola, surely even if the residential numbers were low, they had loads of wealthy tourists. A good restaurant at Road Town or Pussers Landing might just work and of course, Bermuda or the Bahamas had lots of wealthy American visitors.

Jinnie must have dozed off because Willie woke her up saying, “Mummy, they are about to bring dinner round and you missed a gin.” Jinnie chuckled, missing a G&T wasn’t the end of the world, but she was hungry. After dinner the lights were dimmed and just as Jinnie was dropping off a voice said in her ear, “Hello again, I hope you don’t mind me asking but do you own Artisan Sandwiches?” Jinnie opened her eyes and slowly focused on the woman she had spoken to at the airport. The woman continued, “I couldn’t help noticing the girl with the area manager badge on called you boss.”

Jinnie replied, “Well no, I don’t own it, but I am COO of the company that does.” “Oh,” said the woman, “I just wanted to say we love the sandwiches and hoped you were going to talk to P&O about a franchise for sandwiches at the Grab&Go onboard. They already have Costa Coffee franchises.” Jinnie answered saying, “Actually no, the family was just on holiday, and I just happened to bump into the area manager at the airport, she was checking out our first and only Artisan Sandwich shop in the Caribbean.” “Oh, that’s a pity,” said the woman and carried on to the loo.

Now she was awake, Jinnie wondered if there was anything in what the woman had said, was there a possibility of a deal? P&O had seven ships, that was a lot of people and an awful lot of sandwiches. What if they had a counter by the pool like the burger outlet set up like the counter at Bridgetown airport? It might just work. But how would you get paid? You could give the sandwich away and get a fee from P&O or maybe charge per sandwich like Costa did with the coffee. Would people pay for an up-market sandwich, well, she thought, they pay for an up-market meal in the Epicurean. It was then that Jinnie drifted off to sleep.


It was the cabin lights being switched on that woke Jinnie. She looked at her watch and saw it was 03:45 and according to the moving map they were on time to land at 05:00. In the galley she could see the crew getting breakfast ready and she could smell bacon. Across the gangway she could see her parents were rousing and she could make out movements where her sister Penny, Dan and Izzy were sitting. But Willie was still sound asleep as were Paolo and Millie in front of her. All around people were stirring and stretching and several were making their way to the toilet. Jinnie gently woke Willie by stroking his arm.

Once Willie was fully awake, Jinnie woke Paolo, then she told Willie breakfast was on its way. Willie said, “Do you think it will be a boiled egg and soldiers?” Jinnie replied, “I doubt it, it’s usually an omelette, sausage, beans and tomato.” Willie grinned and said, “That’ll do, I’m hungry.” Jinnie chuckled and said, “You’re always hungry.” Jinnie was nearly right, breakfast was just as she had predicted, but they also had cornflakes to start, and fried potatoes added to the hot breakfast.

After breakfast, there was the usual rush for the toilets before the seat belt light was illuminated and the plane landed right on time. As usual the Premium Class passengers were first off, and it took next to no time for them to pass through the automated passport gates. The screens directed them to their flight’s carousel in the baggage hall and the men grabbed trolleys just as the conveyor started moving. The Premium passengers’ luggage was first up, and the family walked through a deserted green channel into the arrivals hall. Paolo spotted the sign directing them to the long-term car park transfer bus and they followed the sign to the stop that was just outside the north terminal. Jinnie stepped out of the door into a virtual wind tunnel, then quickly back inside out of the cold blast where she was joined by the other females and the twins, leaving the men and the luggage to wait for the bus outside.


On the way around the M25 Jinnie suddenly remembered what she had been dreaming about on the plane. She thought about it for a few minutes before saying to Paolo, “Do you remember that lovely meal we had in the ship’s Epicurean Restaurant.” “Yes,” he replied, “The best meal of the holiday.” “Absolutely,” said Jinnie, “Well, on the plane I dreamt that we were running a similar restaurant, you know, high quality ‘Table d’Hote’ menu, great service, say 60 covers. I have been trying to do the maths in my head as I am driving but I keep getting distracted. Can you run the numbers on your phone please”?

Paolo got his iPhone out and said, “Fire away.” Jinnie said, “Let’s start with 60 covers twice a night.” “Done,” said Paolo. “Let’s say we opened six days weeks,” said Jinnie. “So that’s times six,” said Paolo. “Times 52 for weeks a year,” added Jinnie. “How much will you charge?” asked Paolo. “Now that’s the question,” answered Jinnie. “The ship charged £30 a head but that was cheap. For the sort of thing I have in mind I think £35 would still be cheap but let’s add in a drink before dinner, wine with the meal and coffee after, I reckon we should be working on £50 a head minimum.” “Gosh,” said Paolo, “That’s £1,870,000. What’s the profit margin?” “At least 20%,” replied Jinnie, “I think I need a chat with Alberto. I think there is room for a new chain.”


The twins still had a couple of days off before going back to school so while Izzy took them swimming in Nigel’s pool Jinnie headed for her garden office to check her messages and emails. As usual, Larry accompanied her and knew the exact spot to sit to get the full benefit of the warm air blowing out of the air conditioning unit. Jinnie had purchased internet access on the cruise, but while away she had not really bothered to go through the dozens of communications she received every day. She had told Ro and Alberto that if anything important came up they should phone her on her mobile and no one had. First, she went through her DKL inbox, Ro had obviously been keeping an eye on things as several emails had been replied to and there was nothing she needed to deal with immediately.

The minutes of the last board meeting and the agenda for the next needed to be read, as did the departmental monthly reports. Some of the reports she hardly ever bothered to read in depth, like IT, she knew that if there was ever a problem Nigel would be on the phone or knocking on her door. The reports she always spent most time on were Brian’s financial and Belinda’s construction division. The majority of the company profits were still being generated by Belinda’s operations, although as more and more Dark Kitchens opened the construction division’s percentage of turnover dropped but it continued to increase in overall value. Jinnie always knew how much DKL work was going to Belinda, but every month Belinda liked to report on winning a job Jinnie had no knowledge of and this month was no different. She was delighted to read that the division had picked up a dilapidations contract for a landlord whose tenant was vacating five floors of an office building in the City of London. Belinda had told Jinnie that she liked doing dilapidations for landlords, they always charged the client for every possible thing at a high rate, and then often didn’t have all the work done meaning she could bid with a decent profit margin.

This month the reports from Belinda and Brian had been in slightly different styles and Jinnie realised they had been produced by second in commands. But both reported a healthy group, and Jinnie smiled contentedly, the company was running well and the work in the Caribbean was slightly ahead of schedule. She decided that before turning to Trattoria Trevi business she would make herself a cup of coffee and have a couple of Hobnobs. The rustle of the packet of biscuits stirred Larry.

The TT inbox revealed record Christmas and New Year trading at the group and the financial report said the savings account was particularly healthy and suggested a special dividend, speeding up the new build programme or looking for a new investment programme. Jinnie liked that, at the next board meeting she had made her mind up she was going to suggest going all out expanding Aunty JoJo’s with the existing programme in Barbados and St Lucia, but also into Trinidad, opening at least two branches a month. She was also going to introduce the thought of bringing the Aunty JoJo’s chain to the U.K. with a test opening in Brixton. The TT Continental was trading extremely well, and she wanted a commitment to expand the brand and thought that looking at Trinidad was probably the best way to go.

She wanted to put her plan to promote Monica into place and that would need the agreement of the board so that would have to go on the agenda. She also wanted to talk about a Table d’Hote chain but wanted to run the idea past Alberto before putting it on the agenda. Maybe it would be better to defer it to the next month’s meeting. Then Jinnie looked at Miranda’s report on Trattoria Trevi (Events). The business was now well-established with its Christmas parties. As usual it had traded well with the parties at the Vineyard, the County Show Ground and for SIS, but this year parties had been held at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow, The National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, The International Exhibition Centre in Edinburgh, Exhibition Park in Newcastle and the Leeds Exhibition Centre. The report said the business had traded profitably but it was impossible to give the accurate accounts for December as they had numerous items still outstanding. For the first time the company had run several country house parties for up to 50 guests and again the final accounts would not be available until next month, but the preliminary results indicated the venture was profitable. Jinnie was happy to see this as it would make the January meeting accounts look better.

Looking at her watch, Jinnie realised it was lunchtime, and headed for the kitchen, where she found Izzy and the twins eating beans on toast. Willie said, “Mummy, please can you buy hot dogs next time you go shopping? Millie and I have decided they are good for lunch.” Jinnie said, “I don’t know. When you are at school you don’t have lunch here so I’m not sure.” Izzy said, “There are still beans in the saucepan they just need rewarming, I’ll put bread in the toaster.”

Jinnie enjoyed her lunch, it was something different to the hot dogs, burgers or pizza of the last fortnight. But she remembered her conversation with the woman on the plane about sandwiches and thought she should add that to the chat she wanted to have with Alberto. The twins wanted ice cream after their beans, but Jinnie said no, Granny and Grandpa Walsh and Nigel were coming for dinner, and it was going to be roast beef and all the trimmings delivered from Trattoria Trevi. If they were hungry after that they could have ice cream.

In Chapter 24 – Another project

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