‘This is our life’; Treats reopens after two challenging years

Raj Kasthuri and chef Henry Reid prepare a cake for a customer. Treats reopened its main location in West Shore Center on West Bay Road two years after a fire forced its closure. - Photo: Matt Lamers

Raj Kasthuri was on vacation in India when his business partner, Raj Kumar, reached him on the phone to deliver the news: A fire had ripped through their popular restaurant Treats.

“I was shocked. Days later we learned there was more damage than expected,” Mr. Kasthuri said.

No one was injured in the August 2016 incident, but the damage was severe enough to force the closure of the business that employed 15 people.

Now, after two trying years, Treats has reopened at its original location in West Shore Center on West Bay Road.

A soft opening was held Monday, Sept. 10, and a grand opening is still being planned.

Mr. Kasthuri said that walking through the doors last Monday was one of the best days of his life.

But it was a long road.

“Every day was a challenge. We never thought it would be a long process to reopen the restaurant like this. We were thinking we could move back in six months,” he said.

Weeks turned into months, and months into years.

After the insurance settlement was finally paid to the landlord in December 2017, construction started on the extensive repairs.

Since then, hurdles came one after another: Planning approval was needed; there were construction delays; plumbing had to be redone; new floors installed, walls and ceilings erected.

“It’s completely brand new,” said Mr. Kasthuri, who moved to Cayman in 2006.

All that was salvaged from the original location were kitchen equipment, tables and chairs.

After the fire forced Treats to close its doors at West Shore Center, the owners secured a temporary location down the street.

From that location on Lawrence Boulevard, Messrs. Kasthuri and Kumar were able to keep their wholesale business and a “simpler,” scaled-down version of the retail business going, but it meant working days and nights.

“We never stopped the business. This is our life,” he said. “The hardest part was not knowing when we could reopen.”

Treats originally opened its doors three months after Hurricane Ivan devastated Cayman in 2004.

Since then, it has been something of an institution on the island, offering up cakes for weddings and birthdays, along with a wholesale business catering to restaurants and hotels.

Despite the frustrations, Mr. Kasthuri never doubted that Treats would reopen.

“We always had the confidence in our business and customers. We’ve built our reputation since 2004,” he said. Henry Reid, a chef, has been part of Treats since day one.

“We were away for two years. But now we’re back, and I couldn’t be any happier,” he said.

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.