Sur Club, the $1.2 million sushi restaurant at Elizabeth on Bay, has received more than 500 applications in anticipation of its opening next month.
While the development has suffered a setback with the closure of Blu, the property next door is now 95 percent complete. American investor Guy Gentile has transformed what used to be a Burger King into a trendy restaurant that will transform into a nightclub after hours.
Gentile, who is also the principal of Swiss America Securities Ltd., has also rented out a large office space for his online trading division SureTrader.com.
In all, that gives him 8,000 square feet to play with in Elizabeth on Bay, making him by far the largest tenant. He told Guardian Business that he has invested more than $1.5 million into these projects so far – and he’s not going anywhere.
"I don't think past failures are a reflection of us," he said.
"The realty is I'm bringing in experienced management. I'm bringing in people that have been in this business for 20 years. But you can't figure out any business from day one. You have to change and learn."
That's exactly the kind of thinking Elizabeth on Bay needs. The polished plaza, an oasis of commerce in an otherwise barren strip of East Bay Street, has struggled to gain serious momentum with tourists and Bahamians alike.
Llewelyn Burrows, the owner of Haagen Dazs in The Bahamas, said Blu’s closure was the reason he decided to temporarily close the store. He added that Haagen Dazs could reopen once anchor properties, such as Sur Club, move in and starting driving more numbers to the area.
“I’m not one to give up easily. We will keep trying to work with the landlord and get it back open again,” Burrows said.
Gentile believes that Sur Club’s 500 applications are a testament not only to the strong need for work in Nassau, but also the potential for the area.
He plans to over-hire at Sur Club, bringing on around 45 people to work on a rotational basis.
During a tour of the property, he told Guardian Business that the restaurant will have two bars and seating for at least 100 people. It also features a large outdoor area over-looking the harbor and cruise ships, serving as a constant reminder that millions of tourists are right there for the taking. The key is just making them turn left, rather than right.
"If you have a good product and good service, I believe customers are your best advocates. We are also going to be in all the publications. We'll test a number of ideas until it works. We might put people out by the cruise ships and direct them over here," according to Gentile.
The U.S. investor already hires six Bahamians at SureTrader.com. The online brokerage has 2,000 active accounts, he said, he hopes to grow that business considerably alongside Sur Sushi. The fully refurbished office space is still in its early stages of development with plenty of space to grow.
"I am proud to be an investor in The Bahamas and eager to plan and develop future business opportunities that will promote The Bahamas positively and provide job opportunities for people," he said.