A Bodden Town bar that has seen its share of trouble in the past year is being remade into a family style market and eatery.
Buddy Wood, who ran the Ever-glo Drive-in Theatre the 1960s, is breathing new life back into the property.
Mr. Buddy has declared enough is enough and is spending his time remodelling the bar and restaurant to make it a place that showcases Caymanian heritage and culture.
‘I had the Ever-glo property for a long time and for a while I was going to lease it but having all the ‘bang, bang,’ noise and trouble from teenagers was a bit much.
‘Teenagers need to learn to appreciate and respect their district, peers and elders in the community,’ he said. ‘Through the years I have found out that Bodden Town is a hard place to make a living. Maybe, changing the atmosphere of the place may somehow change the attitude of many,’ he said.
According to Mr. Buddy, the remodelled facilities now painted a bright pink, will not only be different but will have a Caymanian feeling as well.
‘Good, clean, family- oriented recordings from local musicians such as Andy Martin, Dave Martins, Lammie, Barefoot, Chuck and Barrie and various artists will be played at the premises – the establishment will not be re-opened as a dancing facility. There will be no loud music, just soft music catered to Caymanian culture,’ said Mr. Buddy.
The market will also offer a wide array of local cuisine, fresh produce, island music, local and bar drinks and local meats.
Freshly grown produce harvested at his farm in East End will also be sold at the restaurant.
‘All the produce picked daily will be offered at the market. When you come in to the restaurant, the steak you will be eating will be from my local beef, which will also be sold at the market. All the jams, breads, tarts, cookies, juices, cakes, candies, patties and tamarind balls will be made on the spot. Persons visiting the market will be able see bakers, cooks and produce sellers at work,’ he said.
Mr. Buddy is even exporting his jams, which is developing into a thriving business, he said.
‘The market will have a bar, which is separate from the restaurant and produce department. If someone wants to come in and have a drink at the bar, they can do so without disturbance.’
Buddy’s Produce Market will be open seven days a week from 8am. On Saturdays and Sundays the restaurant will offer a buffet service. The outside area will be fixed with booths so people can enjoy the cool breeze while dining under the trees.
‘When I am finished this place will be known as Cayman’s favourite local hang-out,’ he said.
Buddy’s Fresh Farm Produce, set to open next month, is on the highway just past the Bodden Town Police Station at Pease Bay.
Buddy’s farming history
Caymanians were self-sufficient in local produce and meats when he was growing up, said Mr. Buddy.
‘I will always remember the sayings of my father, William Wood, around the dinner table, ‘look at this, the only thing we have to buy is salt and even that we do not need because we could have gone to the sea and gotten a little salt water and saved that money too.
‘My dad was a seaman like most Caymanian men in those days, but after a mishap, which nearly cost him his life, he returned home. That was when he started farming because money was coming in the Island and residents could purchase produce,’ he said.
Mr. Buddy said his father grew yams, cassavas, plantains, bottlers, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and peppers.
‘My father had a lot of cattle and butchering would be done Friday evenings and sold Saturday morning under the tree. Local produce was also on sale and residents could get a week’s meal right under the tree. When there was a surplus, my father would send it into George Town,’ he said..
‘We also had chickens in the pens and lots of eggs to harvest. We were well off as far as having something to eat. We only had to hussle to get something to wear, but apart from that, we were self- sufficient.’
Mr. Buddy said he still raises chickens and his eggs are used for baking.
The chicken run is in the back of his property and he picks up 10-12 eggs every day.
‘I remember older persons in the Bodden Town community such as Mr. Scopull, Ed Terry, Radcliff Moore and Conrick Bodden doing a lot of farming in Bodden Town,’ he said.
Mr. Buddy also did carpentry work in his time and went to sea, as most men did in those days.
‘I liked the sea life but came home to start a family and that was the time I started Ever-glo Theatre, which I ran successfully for 19 years without a vacation,’ he said.
After that Mr. Buddy went into a number of other business ventures. His latest is purchasing the farming property of Franklin Smith.
Since purchasing the property he said there have been challenges due to hurricanes and pests, but he persists.
He said his best selling crops are mangoes but only once a year, that is why he depends on other short- term crops such as tomatoes, callaloo, watermelons and peppers.
Peppers are also a good seller. He said he could sell a hundred pounds a day because peppers have been scarce since the hurricanes.
‘We do not even have a banana or plantain that is fit because of the hurricane. People do not realise but the farms in Cayman got a big hit from the hurricanes. I lost thousands of banana and plantain suckers and over 60 mango trees. I spent many hours trying to upright trees and covering exposed roots with soil. Luckily they all caught and are in full bloom now. Come May we will be harvesting mangoes,’ he said.
Mr. Buddy said nothing on his farm will be wasted. ‘I intend to make use of all by-products. I have 40 head of cattle and when the plantain or banana trees are cut or knocked down it will be fed to the cows or mulched back into the land.’