A ‘new concept’ in bars is to open in Baytown Plaza following the successful transfer of a liquor license to the premises at the quarterly meeting of the Liquor Licensing Board of Grand Cayman, pending planning permission.
John A. Swanson will be the licensee of the new establishment, to be named Enigma. Mr. Swanson’s colleague Ishmael DaSilva explained the design and intent of the establishment to the board in some detail.
‘We plan on introducing an unusual concept; not a nightclub, not a bar and not really a lounge in the traditional sense,’ he said.
The establishment blends a European bar, Asian karaoke lounge and New York Manhattan interior design to create a prestigious and sophisticated image, he said.
There are to be four private rooms featuring karaoke in 25 different languages, with 250,000 songs. Each room will have Dish Network and DVD USB docks plus business meeting facilities as well as a Nintendo Wii, and one of the rooms is designed to accommodate the handicapped.
The main bar is designed as a bar and lounge area with recorded music and a small dance floor and the entire establishment will hold 150 people. Food will be served but out-serviced from partnership restaurants along the Seven Mile strip.
The establishment will be open during the day as well as the evenings and so far the design fees have topped $20,000, said Mr. Da. Silva and investment so far was around $250,000 prior to construction work commencing.
‘What we’re looking at is something that’s going to cater for white-collar professionals. It’s not a nightclub so we’re not looking at a massive amount of people in there so you can’t move around.
Mr. Da Silva said that Enigma’s target market is people who worked in hedge funds, the economy and legal industry. Their main competitors would be Nectar Lounge and The Wharf, which have similar clientele.
The entire facility is soundproofed, said Mr. Da Silva, including the individual rooms and the dance floor area, in order not to disturb nearby businesses and residents.
Objection letters had been received and there were objectors present at the meeting including local resident John MacMillan. Mr. MacMillan has lived in the area for 40 years and had also lodged a similar objection application with the Planning Board as he said the information available at the time was not sufficient to make a specific objection.
He said he believed that Mr. Da Silva and Mr. Swanson were honourable people but believed that it was important to express an opinion at this stage in the case of future alterations that could potentially cause problems. He noted that The Wharf had become noisier over the years, for example.
Having heard Mr. Da Silva’s description and heard the plans, however, Mr. MacMillan said that although steps had been taken to alleviate immediate concerns he was worried about future significant alterations in the establishment’s plans. The Licensing Board asked him about his thoughts on Enigma’s plans in the light of the information he had now seen.
‘From what I have heard so far and seen it sounds good,’ he admitted.
Another series of objections was raised by Elizabeth Mobley who was concerned about children, young people and teenagers in the vicinity of the establishment, which will be directly opposite her home.
‘In this area we’re trying to get alcoholics and drug addicts under control so one of my concerns is what would stop people wanting to drop in there and get more alcohol? We work hard on trying to help them get off drugs and alcohol but are we helping them to stay on it there?’ she said.
Mr. Swanson communicated his respect for the objections although pointed out that he may have personally sought to understand the project before expressing his opinions. He was bothered by the objections in one sense, however
‘It’s an indication that I’m not professional in business but I would like to point out that I was the first Caymanian to learn to fly and I landed the first jet here,’ he said.
‘I am simply trying to utilise my license to earn some money, feed my family and protect my family’s future. I’m not doing anything out of hand, out of turn and my track record of 25 years in the bar business with absolutely no police interference is evidence of my professionalism in everything I do,’ he concluded.
He added that there will be security after-hours to protect the establishment and the immediate area.
In response to objections, Mr. Da Silva said that clientele was unlikely to follow the license as it had been inactive for several years and for example one particular premium drink would cost $675 and that the establishment will employ a bouncer plus install security cameras round its premises. Noise levels would be controlled as they would otherwise be in breach of their lease agreement.
‘What we’re building here is an experience,’ he said. ‘There is alcohol as an add-on to that experience. We wholeheartedly disagree that it would bring down the prestige of the location; as a matter of fact we say that it will be the opposite.’