Re­lax­ing at BLUE RIDGE RESTAU­RANT

Jamaica Gleaner - - LIVING - Ka­reem LaTouche/Gleaner Writer

EV­ERY­THING ABOUT Blue Ridge Restau­rant is an ex­pe­ri­ence to re­mem­ber, and this in­cludes the jour­ney, a 25-minute drive from Pap­ine, which will take you through the scenic moun­tain­side of Gor­don Town.

Once I was on the prop­erty, ev­ery­thing felt dif­fer­ent. The drive­way is lined with pine trees and the restau­rant is made with wood and glass, which re­minds me of a log cabin.

Owner Ta­betha Phillips stamps her unique sense of styling through­out the es­tab­lish­ment. “Ev­ery­where I travel I carry back some­thing and add it to the dé­cor of the place. It can be some­thing as sim­ple as a sign or a but­ton. When per­sons come here, they must feel dif­fer­ent from any­where else.”

De­spite open­ing only five years ago, the restau­rant has amassed quite a large fol­low­ing due to the tran­quil­lity and the qual­ity of the food. How­ever, Phillips has faced nu­mer­ous chal­lenges in the last few months, re­sult­ing in her clos­ing her busi­ness mul­ti­ple times.

“At one point, the road to get up here was re­ally bad and I didn’t feel com­fort­able hav­ing my cus­tomers drive on it. So I closed shop and started to seek help from the Government. To my sur­prise, Mrs Hol­ness [mem­ber of par­lia­ment for the con­stituency] called me one day and said she was go­ing to send a team up here to pave it,” she said.

Dur­ing the road work, Phillips stopped her busi­ness for four months, and hap­pily re­opened in Fe­bru­ary, much to the de­light of her cus­tomers. “Busi­ness picked up re­ally fast, we truly have some loyal cus­tomers.”

In short or­der, on March 14, she had to close once again due to the coro­n­avirus. “This was a hard one be­cause of the eco­nomic im­pact it was go­ing to have, es­pe­cially on my staff. Ev­ery­one I hire is from the area and this is their only source of in­come, so break­ing the news to them was hard.”

COM­ING BACK FULL FORCE

Now, with the econ­omy slowly re­open­ing, Blue Ridge Restau­rant started back busi­ness for the third time on June 6. “We are func­tion­ing in a slightly new way, as we are fol­low­ing the so­cial guide­lines by the min­istry.” Due to this, there is a re­stric­tion with the num­ber of per­sons who can visit the prop­erty.

“I have to im­plore our guests to make a reser­va­tion be­fore they come, so that we can en­sure they have a seat­ing space. Plus, our food is done to or­der, so it usu­ally takes a while to pre­pare.”

Plan­tain wrap with ba­con en­trée.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHO­TOS

Blue Ridge Restau­rant, a view of the in­side.

No sur­prise that a per­fect blue drink is wait­ing.

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