Jinnie’s Story – Book Six, Chapter Thirty-Four

The opening of DKL Barbados

WorthingGooner, Going Postal

Jinnie just couldn’t believe how well things were going. Brian had made agreements to purchase the empty shop and the convenience store. He had an agreement with the cafe that if they helped them relocate to new premises, they would sell them their freehold. The only problem was the ship’s chandlers and obtaining their two units was essential to the plan as it was bang in the middle of the run of units and was where Belinda’s designs showed the new kitchens. The plan was to extend the restaurant into the ground floor of the convenience store giving them an additional 50 covers. Moving the kitchens to the space occupied by the chandlers gave them the full run of the first floor for rooms, while the ground floor of the cafe and the empty unit became the larger reception needed for the hotel, offices and a coffee shop. Somehow Belinda’s plans squeezed in a total of 96 bedrooms.

The fly in the ointment was the ship’s chandeliers. Brian had made several increasing offers, but they just didn’t want to sell; they had a long-established, successful and profitable business. Jinnie asked Brian just where their business was as it clearly wasn’t with the big ships that used Southampton Port. Brian explained that they mainly dealt with the owners of yachts that used the Ocean Village Complex or the many moorings and boat clubs further up the river Itchen. Jinnie said to Brian, “Wouldn’t they be better off being located nearer their customers?” And Brian replied, “Yes, of course.”

The little discussion gave Brian an idea and he started an internet search for vacant commercial premises in or close to Ocean Village. He found several of the right size, but they were too expensive for what he had in mind. Moving his search further up the river Itchen, north of the road bridge, he found several marine moorings and boat yards. This was a much more likely area. A quick search found several commercial estate agents, and on ringing just two, his email inbox was quickly bulging with likely sites for a relocated ship’s chandlers, all priced at very much less than his current offer. Brian printed off several of the agent’s flyers, his personal favourite was a warehouse at Shamrock Quay. It was half as big again as the space the chandlers business currently occupied and two-thirds the price. In addition, it was bang in the middle of their customer base and amid numerous other marine businesses like yacht repairers, storage yards and even yacht builders.

Brian thought if the chandlers was his business, he would rather be located on Shamrock Quay than where it currently was. Over dinner that evening, Brian discussed the plan that was forming in his mind with Belinda, as she would have to be involved. Throughout the lamb shanks and the apple pie that followed, Belinda kept asking probing questions trying to find a flaw in the plan. She asked about his rough costing, who would implement this idea, and whether he had considered moving costs and a timescale.

It was only when they had loaded the dishwasher and sat down in the living room with their coffee that Belinda said, “Well, you’ve convinced me. But I really need to see the inside of that warehouse to give you a proper costing. I wandered around the chandlers last time I was in Southampton, and it looked like a disorganised mess to me. The shelves at the front of the building were sagging with stuff and the bigger things on racking at the rear looked like they had just been thrown there. The two old men behind the sales counter appeared to be the only ones who had any idea what was in stock and where it was. Perhaps we need to talk to Nigel about computerised stock control. They are obviously still working a system from the 50s or 60s. I am also a bit bothered about moving costs, I think you are underestimating them. But I think you are right; they don’t want to sell because they can’t see beyond the current business and need help seeing how much better off they could be amongst their customer base in a modern environment. Let’s talk to Jinnie and Nigel in the morning and see what they think.”


The following morning Jinnie was busy in her garden office going through the endless number of emails she had been copied into. Larry was dozing in his favourite spot in the middle of the floor where the air conditioning blew strongest, but Jinnie knew he was still alert as his ears kept swivelling.

No matter how hard she tried to tell people only to copy her into emails if it involved her, she still had to wade through hundreds a day. She had just deleted an email about the cost of a plumber called to fix a leaking tap at Turners Hill when her computer pinged and an invitation to a ‘Teams’ meeting popped up. The only person who regularly talked to her on Teams was Ro, so she automatically accepted the offer without looking at the meeting’s subject or other attendees.

Jinnie was surprised to find herself looking at Brian, Belinda and Nigel. After saying ‘Hello’ Jinnie recovered and listened as Brian launched into a précis of his plan. “As you know our project at Southampton is stalled by the chandlers refusing all our offers. Without those units, the project, as envisaged, becomes useless and we will have to rethink what we can attain. So, I have been thinking about a way to get them to move. Belinda and I think the reluctance to move is that they are content with their business, it makes them a decent living and they have no vision of what they could be earning if they moved and modernised the business.”

“Go on,” said Jinnie, “I’m interested.” Brian continued, “What I am proposing is that we show them what a new modern outlet could look like. We help them move to a new warehouse close to their customer base and computerise their stock control and sales. Nigel will tell you it’s not a very expensive bit of software to install and run, it’s loading the data that’s more difficult, but we have a plan for that. I have found a big warehouse for sale on Shamrock Quay, bang in the middle of two marinas and surrounded by businesses servicing yachts.”

Belinda joined in saying, “If you give the OK, I will be heading to the warehouse directly after the meeting. I can measure it up and have Andrew’s people produce drawings and rendered images in a couple of days. We can show the fit-out with a sales counter, shelving and racking. It is 50% bigger than the current place, which is pretty big and chaotic, so we have space for offices, a staff break room, computer room, and even a customer coffee corner and customer toilets. Nigel added, “Brian is suggesting we offer to move them and I think as each piece of stock comes out of the old building, we have a team with laptops recording what comes out and attach a stock number to it. When it goes into the new building, we record exactly where it is put and ‘hey presto’ the computer system knows exactly where everything is and what it is.”

“Let me get this right,” said Jinnie. “You are proposing we buy this warehouse, fit it out, move them, and computerise them and the stock control system. How much more does this cost us?” Brain smiled broadly and said, “But this is just where the beauty of the plan is. The building is substantially cheaper than the current offer price. So, on balance it costs us slightly less than we have already offered. Oh, and I forgot to mention the warehouse comes with 30 parking spaces. I suggest we work the project up and price it fully, then we pitch to them that we move them into the new fitted-out freehold building and support their IT for two years. Nigel confirms it should cost us very little if we use our in-house people and in return, they hand over the freehold to their units.”

“If I was offered that deal, I’d jump at it,” said Jinnie. “How long do you think it will take to work up a costing and drawings?” “Not long,” replied Brian. “We have most of the costs already from working out what to offer this last couple of times. We need a bit of input from Nigel and Belinda, but I think the images will take the most time. They must look good.” “Let me know when you are meeting them to present this, I want to be there. In fact, I think we should all be there and we can have a poke around the TT Ennios at the same time.”


The meeting with the owners of the chandlers was fixed for 11 o’clock so the party met at Waterloo for the 08.35 fast train. Settled into a nearly empty First-Class carriage, Belinda popped the cap off the cardboard tube she was carrying and pulled out a sheaf of drawings and renders. On the top was an outside view, a rendered isometric showing the main entrance with several cars parked outside. Belinda explained that Andrew had looked at the photos of the outside of the building and asked what Belinda proposed doing about the double-height roller shutter and wicket door that dominated. Belinda said she had costed to scrap the roller shutter and part fill in the opening with a metal wall to match the rest of the building but to install a shop front with double glass doors in the lower section.

Andrew had asked, “Is there a back entrance?” and Belinda said she had called up a picture of a loading bay at the rear with another roller shutter which was only about eight feet high and had an access door to one side. Belinda said Andrew had suggested that was perfect saying, “We leave the back as it is. Who wants to lug a heavy item like an anchor or a yacht engine from racking through the shop and out of the front door when it can go directly onto the bed of a pickup or van via the loading bay? At the front we still take out the roller shutter, but we replace it with a glass curtain wall and double doors. It will look stunning and flood the place with natural light and I doubt it will make a lot of difference to the cost.”

Jinnie examined the image and she had to agree it looked good. “So, what effect did it have on costs?” she asked. “Very little,” replied Belinda, “when I costed it all, including leaving the rear roller shutter and entrance and a bit of paint, it was a couple of hundred pounds more, but I think it is worth it.” “Well, so do I,” said Jinnie. “It makes a great initial impression,” Belinda unrolled several more renders of inside, showing acres of shelving and racking, the coffee corner, the counter, even the toilets. Andrew had been careful to show the sunlight pouring in through the double-height curtain wall. Jinnie had to admit it looked most impressive.

Belinda produced two further drawings, but these were ordinary orthogonal plans. One was the existing building and the other was as proposed. Finally, Belinda said, “I don’t think I will present this drawing initially. I might save it in case a question is asked, or we need to show how the place could be enlarged. As I have mentioned several times, this is a double-height building, so I got Scott, one of Andrew’s team to show a storage mezzanine over the back third of the building. As shown, it wouldn’t need planning permission, only building regulations. Of course, if they wanted something bigger or offices on it or even public access, then the rules change, but as shown that would cost about £70,000, take about a month to manufacture and four days to install. Or they could install double-height racking but then they would need a special high-lift forklift which would cost more than the mezzanine floor.” “I’m inclined to agree,” said Jinnie. “Let’s keep that up our sleeve.”

The chandlers clearly expected an increased offer and had come prepared to turn them down. When Jinnie opened the presentation and produced the image showing the new building with the curtain wall she noticed the managing director sit up and take notice. Jinnie blue tacked the drawing to the wall and the MD got up and closely examined the drawing. “Does this building exist?” he asked. “Yes,” replied Jinnie, “it’s at Shamrock Quay, but it doesn’t yet look like this. This is how it will look when Wright Refurbishments have finished working on it and fitting it out and we hand it over to you.”

The MD snorted and said, “And just how much is this going to cost us?” “Well,” said Jinnie, “I don’t want to steal Brian’s thunder, but what we are proposing is that we swap premises. We give you this freshly refurbished building in exchange for your units.” “Really?” said the MD. “Absolutely,” said Jinnie, “but Brian and Belinda will now run you through the rest of our proposal and if they don’t answer all your questions, we will be more than happy to answer them after the presentation.”

Brian and Belinda were a perfect double act bouncing off each other. Brian explained the offering while Belinda produced the drawing and renders and explained what they showed. Jinnie watched several on the other side of the table making notes and managed to read one note upside down. It said, “What’s in it for them?” When they had finished the presentation, Jinnie said, “You are probably wondering why we are making this offer. Well, the answer is twofold. Firstly, we know you are reluctant to move and this idea would make it as simple as possible for you. In total monetary value it is a slight increase in our last offer to you. But we will do all the work you that would have to do if you took it up. We have found what we think is a perfect building for you. We have designed the fit-out, we will look after all the work, you don’t have to do a thing. What else do you get, a bigger building newly refurbished, with parking, racking and shelving, new toilets, a coffee corner, and a computerised stock system with IT support from Nigel and his team for two years.”

“What do we get,” Jinnie continued. “Well, to be honest we get all the units in the block. We can then move on our plans to increase the number of rooms that the Ennios has to offer. I don’t want to reveal much more than that, but I will say that without your units we will still own a hugely successful restaurant. Now are there any questions?” The Chandlers’ MD held up his hand and said, “If you don’t mind, can I call a short break, I really need to talk to my negotiating team. I understand there is coffee in the side room over there and there are toilets through the door on the other side of the room”. And with that he led his team out of the room.

Jinnie saw Nigel’s coffee and poured herself a cup of tea. Brian emerged from the toilet and Jinnie said to him, “He’s going to accept, but he’s going to try and squeeze us first. When he does, I’ll answer, I don’t want to pay a penny more, so I’ll say this is our best and final offer and if he doesn’t accept, we will walk away and use what we have and convert the cafe into a sandwich shop.” “Hold on,” said Belinda, “I think I have missed something in the layout. We have allowed for a boardroom and offices, a staff room and everything but there is no MD office. We need to make some rooms a tad smaller and make one a bit bigger to appeal to his ego. It won’t cost us anything overall, some bits will be cheaper and his office will cost a touch more. They will cancel each other out.”

When the meeting resumed, Jinnie realised the atmosphere had changed, it was more friendly, and questioners prefaced questions with statements like, “When we move …” when previously it had been “If we move…” Jinnie was waiting for a question from the MD, but he was biding his time. Finally, he asked, “Which office do you envisage being mine, they all look alike.” Belinda replied, “Sitting here, I have just realised that all the offices are the same size. They are all bigger than your current offices but there isn’t one that is obviously the MD’s. This is what I propose.” Walking over to the proposed plan view, she pulled out a red pen and said, “I think this office in the corner is the best; it has dual-aspect windows.” Jinnie saw the MD nodding in agreement. “If we make it a bit bigger,” said Belinda, drawing a red line taking in a chunk of the next office in the run, “then we divide up the rest of the run in equal-sized offices, we get something that looks like this.” With a scale rule in her hand, she divided the run into equal sizes and said, “Each of the remaining offices is a tiny bit smaller, but they are still bigger than the current director’s offices and each one still has a window and a radiator. I will need to swap the doors a tad, but I reckon it makes not an iota of difference to the cost and I can get the revised drawings to you by the morning.”

“That’s more like it,” said the MD and looking left and right at those on his side of the table he said, “Are we in agreement gentleman, we accept this offer?” He saw a sea of nodding heads and a chorus of yeses. Before she released what was happening Jinnie was shaking hands on the deal and promising to be in touch the next day with a programme. Belinda said, “I’m going to phone the office right now and get the drawings amended and a programme produced. I’ll get them couriered to you in the morning.”

The group moved next door and spoke to the Ennios general manager. Jinnie introduced herself and explained that in future he would be reporting to her. They sat in the manager’s office, and he called for coffee. Jinnie accepted a cup and said to him, “Please don’t take this wrongly but the coffee here is not up to Trattoria Trevi standards. It’s not awful, I’ve been served much worse, but I think it will be one of the things Alberto will want to change.”

As they chatted Jinnie realised that the manager had no idea of their plans for the hotel and restaurant, so she explained to him what was going to happen. As she talked, she saw the relief in his eyes and guessed he was expecting to be made redundant. Jinnie said, “You are free to tell everyone here that their job’s safe, I would appreciate it if you didn’t tell anyone of our plans quite yet. The rebuilding and alteration here will start to become obvious soon, but it will be done in stages. But I can tell you the restaurant will be enlarged soon and some more rooms will be added over the convenience store at the same time. We will be spending a lot of money here and we will be hiring and not losing people.”

Nigel and Jinnie were particularly interested in seeing the whole site, so the manager took them around ending up in the restaurant. Jinnie told the manager that Alberto had been a little disappointed with the wine list and he would have liked to have seen a larger offering. Belinda said she hoped that in the enlarged restaurant, she had allowed enough space to satisfy Alberto but there was a space limitation. The manager asked, “Have you made use of the cellar?” To which Belinda said, “What cellar?” The manager unlocked a door, switched on a light and led them down a flight of steps into a cavernous space. Belinda said, “I asked the restaurant manager what was behind that door and he told me he thought it was a small unused damp storage space.” “That was the story put out by the previous owners, because it runs the full length under the build and has not been divided up. There used to be access to this area from each business in this block, but as far as I know it has never been used because it was a security risk.”

Belinda was looking around; the cellar was dirty and a little musty but appeared to be bone dry. Nigel said, “It seems a shame to have all this space and not make use of it. Could I make a couple of suggestions? If we had a wine cellar, dry goods storages and walk-in freezers and fridges down here we could free up space for more tables in the restaurant.” “I was thinking on those lines,” said Belinda, “but that would only take up a fraction of the space. “How about we add an enormous cellar bar with direct street access? We would have to put in several accesses to comply with building regulations, and fire regulations might be a bit tough, they would demand fire breaks and a fireproof ceiling. Isn’t there a campus of the University of Southampton just over the road?” “It’s the Waterfront Campus, and National Oceanographic Centre,” said the General Manager. “The students might like a cellar bar, do you think it would be possible to put on live music?” “Anything is possible,” replied Belinda. “But I think it would need soundproofing, air conditioning, a drench sprinkler system and who knows what else.” Brian added, “I think it would cost an awful lot of money, but it could make an awful lot of money. I suggest we put a cellar bar on the back burner until we have rebuilt our reserves. Jinnie thought, ‘But I might be able to supply an awful lot of money sooner than you think.’


Jinnie was enjoying her flight to Barbados in Virgin’s Upper Class. It wasn’t quite BA First Class, but it came damn close for less money. She sipped the vodka and lemonade with ice and a slice and turned over the page of the Financial Times she had picked up in the First-Class Lounge. She scanned one page and then reversed the paper to look at the next page where a headline grabbed her attention, ‘Sir Nigel joins the board of his favourite restaurant.’ Jinnie and Nigel had given the story to Bill Furr, and he had promised to write it up to their satisfaction and leak it to the FT. The story was a straight lift from Bill Furr’s piece that the Potters Bar Press had splashed on its website this morning. For it to be in today’s FT, Bill must have leaked it to them yesterday evening, before the paper went to bed.

A quick read through the article had Jinnie grinning. It was exactly what they had planned. It told how Sir Nigel had bought into the fast-growing Trattoria Trevi Group and been rewarded with a seat on the board of directors. When asked why he had chosen to invest in the group, Sir Nigel was quoted as saying, “Why not? It is a tremendous investment. I have put money into a group that owns my favourite place to eat in the whole world and as a director I can now get a table whenever I want. But seriously, it is really a wonderfully managed company that is growing so fast I am having trouble keeping up. The latest Trattoria Trevi in Birmingham is doing unbelievable business, its fast food division is opening a new Artisan Sandwich outlet at least every month, its new Caribbean fried chicken outlet in Brixton has proved so popular that a second outlet will be opening in London in a couple of weeks and several more are planned.”

The article continued, ‘Aunty JoJo’s, the fried Chicken business, is based in Barbados where in next to no time it has gone from one small branch to eight. It has now expanded to neighbouring islands and has opened on St Lucia and last week, to many excellent reviews, it opened its first branch in Trinidad. We understand that a large programme of openings is planned in Trinidad and Trattoria Trevi’s COO Dame Jinnie De Luca has confirmed that the group already has secured 16 further sites on Trinidad and one on Tobago which are planned to be open in the next six months. As readers might remember, Dame Jinnie is MD of Dark Kitchens Limited, a highly successful joint venture Trattoria Trevi shares with SuperBurger. DKL operates delivery kitchens all over the U.K. and if you order a meal to be delivered from SuperBurger, Trattoria Trevi or your local Chinese or Indian takeaway, it is likely to be prepared in a DKL kitchen and delivered by a DKL van or bike.’

‘We learn that DKL has also ventured into the Caribbean and that Dame Jinnie will be attending the opening of their first kitchens in Bridgetown this weekend. Of course, AuntyJoJos will be launching its first delivery service on the island by utilising the new Kitchens and in a few weeks DKL will be opening a second Barbados site. Between the two facilities they will cover the whole island.’

‘Trattoria Trevi is a privately owned company, but SuperBurger is a Footsie 250 quoted company.’

Jinnie folded the paper and put it in her bag. She would show the article to Patrica and Brooke, when they met with her, Lenny from the Embassy, Brian and Belinda for dinner at the TT Continental that evening. Being in Upper Class, Jinnie was one of the first off the plane and even managed to grab one of the few seats on the bus to the terminal. Other advantages of Upper Class were that no one else was waiting to use the electronic passport readers so she was quickly through immigration and the Upper-Class luggage was already circulating on the carousel when she reached it. She only had a small bag as she was only staying a few nights, but she opted for a luggage trolly as she knew it was quite a walk to the Avis desk and her hire car.

Jinnie was quickly on the road to Bridgetown and Brian and Belinda’s house which took her about 30 minutes. She used the gate entry system to announce her arrival and while waiting to be let in she wondered if there were any other houses for sale on the estate. In a few months she should be able to easily afford one and it would be lovely to spend school holidays here and cruise over Christmas and the New Year. As she drove up the drive, she reflected on just how well things had gone recently and for a moment she wondered if things were going too well.

Belinda met her at the door and took her to one of the spare bedrooms. While climbing the stairs Belinda explained that Brian gone into town, to the British supermarket, to buy eggs & bacon for breakfast. Jinnie said, “I hope that’s not on my behalf.” Belinda answered, “No, it’s for Brian, if he doesn’t have an egg & bacon butty for his breakfast, he is grumpy all day.”


Jinnie drove out of the gates followed by Brian and Belinda, who were heading directly to the TT Continental. Patricia was picking up Brooke and she was picking up Lenny from the embassy where he was working late. The arrangement was that Jinnie should speak to the Barbados policeman on the gate, and he would call Lenny down. That would save any fuss with security passes. Jinnie pulled her car over and approached the armed Barbados Police Service officer who saluted her and asked her business. As soon as she mentioned Lenny’s name, the officer smiled broadly and ticked an item on his clipboard and picked up the phone in his box to summon Lenny.

The meal was fabulous. Jinnie was delighted to see the standards imposed by Alberto hadn’t dropped an iota. From her seat she could see it wasn’t just her table that was getting faultless service and food. Everyone was getting similar service. Jinnie wondered aloud if she should ask the head waiter to visit the U.K. to give that little extra polish to the TT Ennios. Brian replied, “Why not, it wouldn’t do any harm and might do a lot of good. Besides it would show the head waiter how appreciated he is.”

Over coffee, Jinnie pulled the FT article from her bag and showed it to her dining companions. Nearly everyone was delighted but Lenny was a little quiet. On the drive back to the embassy Lenny explained that the embassy had picked up a rumour that several groups were not happy about the success of Trattoria Trevi and its subsidiaries in the Caribbean and an article like that didn’t help. Although the FT didn’t have a wide circulation in the West Indies, it was sure to be picked up by the local press and it said she was going to be at the opening ceremony for the DKL kitchen and he considered that a security problem and suggested he should accompany her to the opening. Jinnie said OK if he thought it necessary but who on earth would wish her harm?

Lenny said, “Well, I can think of several. Firstly, you are head of a company that in Barbados has taken a lot of money away from Chefette, and the delivery business is predicted to hit them even harder. Then KFC will have been watching what is happening in Barbados closely. They have a lot of outlets in Trinidad, and they will be worried. I’m not for a minute suggesting a huge company like KFC would want to hurt you but they have many outlets that are franchises and people have their life savings invested.”

“However,” Lenny continued, “my biggest fear is Dwight Holding’s associates. The BPS are certain there are a number still free on the island and I believe your name has somehow been leaked to them.” Jinnie was shocked, if she was in possible trouble how about her friends and colleagues like the people she had been dining with? She pulled up by the embassy gate and joined Lenny beside the personnel entrance. The BPS officer was obviously familiar with Lenny as he said, “Good evening, Sir, I trust you had a good meal.” Lenny said, “Wonderful thank you, Winston, Mrs De Luca’s restaurant is the best in the Caribbean.”

Jinnie agreed that Lenny should meet her at Brian and Belinda’s villa in the morning and ride shotgun at the opening. Jinnie thanked him, said, “Good night and I’ll see you in the morning,” and stepped off the pavement to get in her car. She stopped in front of her car as a black limo sped down the street. As it passed, a hand holding a pistol emerged from the front passenger window. She saw the gun flash and felt the bullet hit her left shoulder before she heard it. As she collapsed in agony, she heard the BPS officer’s automatic rifle fire a short burst followed by another and the sound of an explosion further down the road.

Jinnie was beginning to feel numb and put her right hand on her shoulder, it came away soaked in blood. She realised that Lenny and the policeman were kneeling next to her and some kind of pad was being applied to the wound. Jinnie realised her vision was getting fuzzy. Dimly, she heard a voice saying, “Hold on, an ambulance is coming,” and she could hear several sirens screaming. But she was losing consciousness. A black curtain was descending and she thought, ‘I knew things were going too well,’ before she finally lost consciousness.

Is there going to be Jinnie’s Story Book 7? Is she dead or alive? Is it going to be Penny’s story instead? Only time will tell.

© WorthingGooner 2024