Downtown institution Bacchus closes

After more than eight
years at its Fort Street location in downtown George Town, Bacchus Restaurant
and Wine Bar closed for business Thursday.

Its owner, Keith Griffin, confirmed over the weekend that
the restaurant would not be re -opening.

“[Business] wasn’t that bad, but I could see it becoming
bad,” Mr. Griffin told the Caymanian Compass on Saturday. “We’re looking ahead
at the cruise ship schedule and offices are moving out of town.

“I couldn’t see a business reason to keep the place
open.” 

Mr. Griffin said the property owner plans to turn the
location on Fort Street next to the Legislative Assembly building into retail
shops. He said he has no plans to re-open Bacchus at another location and has
not decided what he’ll do next.

On Saturday, work crews were cleaning out the business,
indicating they had to move from the
location by Sunday.

Bacchus first opened in late 2002 on Fort Street, but Mr.
Griffin said that spot had been a restaurant of one kind or another dating to
the 1970s. 

Recent changes in the fortunes of the downtown George
Town area have essentially made it difficult to attract “foot traffic”, Mr.
Griffin said.

Cruise ship calls, particularly from the higher-end
cruise lines, were scheduled to drop off in Grand Cayman during 2011. However,
Mr. Griffin said his restaurant has also been affected by a number of offices
moving from downtown to places like Cricket Square and Camana Bay.

“I just don’t think it’s getting any better in George
Town,” he said. “The fees and licences just keep going up, and business keeps
going down.”

Bacchus is hardly the first restaurant in the area to
close its doors.

Just across the street, Senor Frogs shut down for good
last year, citing a drop in the number of cruise ship customers it served in
2010.

Also, the weekend of 23-24 April, local restaurant Al La
Kebab – located just down the way from Bacchus on Albert Panton Drive – was
shuttered. It was not clear at press time whether the business planned to
re-open at some point.

The Al La Kebab store at the Marquee Plaza remains open
and operating as usual.

A reported drop in cruise ship calls between January of
this year and January 2012 is playing a role in the troubles of downtown
businesses.

According to figures received by the Compass, Royal
Caribbean, Princess Cruises and Celebrity Cruises will make a combined 54 fewer
cruise calls to Grand Cayman in the one-year period ending 31 January, 2012,
compared to the
previous 12 months.

The reduction represents a 26 per cent decrease in calls
from ships from the three cruise lines. Liberty of the Seas is scheduled to
make only four calls to Grand Cayman in 2011 after being scheduled to make 24
calls in 2010. Celebrity Century is scheduled to make 26 fewer calls during
2011 than the 36 it was scheduled to make this year.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. This is the voters wants and needs in action. Get rid of expats. Well. Your government elected leaders are listening. They are getting what they wish.

    The entire business and island prosperity and stability that has taken 40 years to create. Is being flushed down the toilet basically in less than 4 years.

    And the proverbial turd that would stop all this, is that dirty word roll over. By getting rid of it. To increase the island numbers back to 50k. Where the island seems very stable and secure. Jobs a plenty. But no one wants to unflush that. So, what you get is a spiraling- isn’t going to stop, flush of the economy.

    I wonder when those that can change this situation, are going to figure this out on their own.

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  2. Very sad to see the Bacchus go, an institution indeed and very handy for a weekday lunch.

    It’s understandable though, with George Town being somewhat of a ghost community there to serve cruise tourists only, and with no real life of its own, that the evening trade would continue to suffer.

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  3. In response to ‘Big Berd’ –

    The issue has never been Caymanians versus Expats. It’s a class issue. Rich versus poor.

    The Caymanian vs. Expat issue has always been used to stir up ignorant supporters much in the same way right wing supporters in the US drum up support to get tough on illegal immigration – The foreigners are taking our jobs!

    The truth is that the roll over policy wasn’t meant to kick out expats – just the poor ones that send their money elsewhere – the same poorer people that the country depends on to do menial labor. The rollover is insurance that poorer people can’t get residence and possibly turn Cayman into a welfare state (although some would argue that it already has in a different way through bloated government employment and a widespread culture of entitlement).

    At the end of the day, you have leaders that want to protect the class structure.

    Expats or poorer and middle class Caymanians – we’re all pawns in a much larger game.

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  4. Big Berd, I’d like to bring you attention to a comment made a week ago, seems this is just the beginning of all the hopes and Dreams of Caymanians coming true. This is just what they’ve been asking for, Foreigners are leaving and businesses are closing and expat are getting kicked to the curb in droves. And as he said below, all Caymanians should have jobs and big homes. I think I’ll just sit back and observe the outcome of all this.

    Comment from Article Miller Pushes Fair Trade Commission April 26th

    A year from now Cayman would be cleansed of all working foreigners who have been taking Caymanian jobs.

    Of course Government revenue will be slashed too. No more work permit fees. No more foreign attorneys paying 50,000 a year or maids paying 3,000 a year.

    Import duty would be slashed too. Half the population requires half as many goods.

    Tourists would still be welcome and Caymanians would be cooking and serving in Caymanian owned restaurants. Caymanians would be able to work as maids and gardeners in Caymanian owned hotels.

    While government revenue would be down some 75% there would be less people to take care of. The roads would be traffic free and people would have snapped up some fabulous homes at bargain prices

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  5. Agreed, NJ. but you forgot a few important things too.

    No more luxury homes (90% of the Caymanians won’t be able to afford them, with all the higher paying jobs, leaving the island) Expats leave, so do the high law/finance/banking firms. Want to argue, look at the past 3 years 8). And it will get worse if current trends are not reversed.

    No more air conditioning for each home. Can’t afford airconditioning when most Caymanians will be making less than 10 dollars an hour. Since the only jobs left will be mostly customer service jobs.

    Electricity will be 2x’s as expensive. Since there isn’t the volume of people to pay the fuel costs. Those will get passed down to any people left on the island (generators must be run, no matter if they are fully utilized or half utilized, they still burn the same amount of fuel)

    No more brand new cars en masse, or luxury cars on the island in the numbers we see now. After all, who can afford a luxury car, being a waiter or working at the movie theater as a pop corn server.

    The list goes on and on. I honestly don’t think, the people that vote. Really grasp the entire concept. They are like kids at Christmas. Thinking that they are going to get everything they expect and dream big. Only to find out you got 1/4 of what you expected. And even then, the toys were not all that they were like on television!

    Oh well. I just sit and smile.

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  6. Big Berd, I agree completely. A lot a people tend to look at that big house on the hill and think that if they were not there I would be, they see the guy driving the Mercedes down SeaView Road and think if it was not for him that would be my car. So they are hoping that with all the Expats gone the Caymanian working at Kirks stocking shelves will suddenly have that Job at Fidelity as an Investment analyst or the Young Lady Cleaning Rooms at the Morrits will suddenly have that job at Solomon Harris as a Paralegal. And all the High end Condos and Mansions from South Sound to Seven Mile Beach will be priced as low as that 2 Bedroom home in West Bay.

    This unbelievable comment I read says it all, I copied it below for your review of what it seems Caymanian are hoping for.

    From Alden makes bid to oust Mac
    Posted on Wed, 04/27/2011 – 17:47

    Submitted by Born Caymanian (not verified) on Thu, 04/28/2011 – 09:04.
    Great Idea, Get rid of this Upward thinking Government, all they do is try to make money for Cayman. We need to put someone in place that will first of all put a stop to all this Development and then do what it takes to get rid of all these foreigners on the island like revoking any Status grants and stop issuing work permits. Once we lock our borders to outsiders there will be no more of this crime and we will be much better off. Hopefully the new government will also revoke any property ownership rights for foreigner who took advantage of Cayman People by buying their land when that they had no birth right too, once the deeds are repossessed by the new government they can sell the property to locals at a price they can afford. And the same should go for foreign own businesses, if they are taken from the foreigners and given to us, we will be able to make a living. I say thank you to the PPM for doing what it takes to get the island back to it roots down with Mac , no one here want your ideas of growth for Cayman we like it the way it was and want that life back.

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  7. Problem is the global financial system is broken. Cayman is not immune. Increasing fuel prices and business closures are just symptoms of a deepening crisis. Make no mistake the Cayman dollar is the U.S. dollar and as goes the U.S. dollar so will go Cayman. I will explain more in future posts.

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  8. On the matter of Bacchus, it was a nice little place for a bite to eat however it was no good for business lunches. In truth there is nowhere in GT to take a client to and impress them. Guy Harveys has the view but little else. Put an impressive restaurant (like Abacus) in GT with a nice view and watch the corporate money roll in…

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