Two Decades of Ser­vice

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of these ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

Does any­one out there still re­mem­ber Buddy Holly? He was the singing hero of my teenage years and my skin still tin­gles ev­ery time I hear his song, ‘Peggy Sue’. Of course, I don’t ac­tu­ally hear it on the ra­dio but I have my playlists on the com­puter, and Buddy is one of my favourites.

“If you knew Peggy Sue, then you’d know why I love you, my Peggy, my Peggy Sue”, or words to that ef­fect – you know what it’s like when you sing along – nei­ther words nor mu­sic fit ex­actly but you still feel the ec­stasy.

What’s all this about, you might well be ask­ing; well let me tell you about my Peggy Sue, bet­ter known as Sue, the amaz­ing lady who owns and runs Raz­mataz, the Nepalese res­tau­rant on the strip in Rod­ney Bay.

Sue and her hus­band, John, came to St Lu­cia more than two decades ago and set­tled down to a new life on the is­land – I don’t know the de­tails but, like many an ex­pat, they had done well enough back home and de­cided they wanted new chal­lenges. Hav­ing said that, we all know of other ex­pats who never achieved much back home and fled to the Caribbean in search of eas­ier suc­cesses. Well, as they say, mi­grants come in all shapes and sizes, as the coun­tries of Europe are now dis­cov­er­ing.

John and Sue first set up Raz­mataz on the site where they are build­ing the Har­bour Club Ho­tel (watch that space – it is go­ing to be some­thing very spe­cial) on the Gros Islet high­way by the Ma­rina. One year later they moved to their present spot in Rod­ney Bay Vil­lage, just op­po­site the Royal St Lu­cian ho­tel. Ev­ery­one thought they were crazy. They were the first res­tau­rant on the strip. Raz­mataz has out­lasted all the com­pe­ti­tion. Qual­ity clearly counts.

For old-timers like me, the evenings when John would don his guitar and sing for guests will re­main magic mem­o­ries. He had all the old favourites off pat and could pull them up at will. He also had a wicked sense of hu­mour – risqué was the least one could say of his jokes, blas­phe­mous oth­ers might say, but de­spite the tinge of blue that coloured most of his sto­ries he had a heart of gold and it was all great fun, es­pe­cially for us north­ern­ers.

“North­ern­ers” by the way, for those of you not in the know, are peo­ple for­tu­nate enough to have been born north of Birm­ing­ham – some say the Wat­ford Gap Mo­tor­way Ser­vice (Gas) Sta­tion, but that’s a bit too far south for my taste – where we say what we mean, speak our mind as it were, and don’t take crap from any­one. We also speak our own lan­guages; there is in the east the beau­ti­ful, ex­pres­sive Broad York­shire, and then there’s the other one, ‘on t’other side ot’ Pen­nines that lacks the melodic tones and har­monies of Broad York­shire. John came from the ‘wrong’ side but his skill with the guitar and his abil­ity with words al­lowed him to over­come these dis­ad­van­tages.

Mag­i­cal, magic Perry Como mo­ments; John could con­jure up fa­mous faces and celebri­ties from thin air. His guitar had been given him by Elvis him­self; Paul Si­mon was of­ten hid­den in a cor­ner … And then John died and the mu­sic stopped. It was quick in the end, very painful but mer­ci­fully fast, a brain tu­mour and Sue was left stand­ing on her own.

Now I have to tell you some­thing about Sue: she is a bit dif­fer­ent from other peo­ple. She comes from Cheshire, which is quite a dif­fer­ent place from Lan­cashire. Sue is one tough, lovely woman, For the past ten years or so since John’s death she has laboured valiantly to keep her busi­ness go­ing through many a lean year.

This month, Raz­mataz cel­e­brates it 20th an­niver­sary which is an achieve­ment that few restau­rants can boast of. Sue re­cruits, trains and moth­ers a staff that can vary be­tween 14 and 20 em­ploy­ees. The ser­vice is al­ways metic­u­lous, car­ing and at­ten­tive. The food is de­li­cious, some­times hot and spicy, other times just per­fectly pre­pared to bring out the de­li­cious flavours con­jured up by Nepalese Chef Diphen­dra and his kitchen staff.

Diphen­dra has been at Raz­mataz since the very be­gin­ning, de­spite nu­mer­ous at­tempts to lure him away by com­pet­ing eater­ies. The same res­tau­rant, the same chef in a 20-year part­ner­ship serv­ing visi­tors and lo­cals alike – not bad re­ally for a young lass from Cheshire.

If you have never eaten there, you should give your­selves a treat – who knows, you might find your­self sit­ting next to some­one re­ally fa­mous, like Elvis!

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