Young People in Business: Barbadians ‘Bowl’d’ over by new flavour
Co-owner Christopher Squires (right) and two line cooks assisting Bowl'd customers.
A bowl filled with bold flavours and bold colours which leaves your taste buds in delightful shambles is what one of Barbados’ newest food establishments offers.
Bowl’d has been knocking it out of the park for quite a few Barbadians since its opening at the end of 2017, and co-owner Antonio Welch could not be happier.
The business partners – Welch and Christopher Squires, were tired of keeping their idea shelved and on the backburner and finally, after about a year, it has come to fruition in the Dome Mall in Warrens.
Loop chatted with Welch as patrons walked up, peeped and chose to try Bowl’d for the first time.
Asked about the name, he explained, “I guess I always wanted to do like a build a bowl concept. I was just kinda thinking about it and I was thinking about all kinds of names and I was like bold, because I want everything to have bold flavours; everything has to kind of stand alone, and then together everything kinda zings, that’s kinda what I’m going for; something that everything punches, the flavour punches through. So that’s what we’re really trying to achieve. Something that is a little different, that’s not everyday, but still familiar.
“That’s kinda how I came up with it. Playing on the word bowled – to be bowled over, bold flavours, everything, so that’s kind of how.”
This is Welch’s first business and surprise, surprise, his background is actually in I.T.
With a smile, he said, “I’ve always really wanted to start a restaurant. I’ve always been around the kitchen experimenting, doing things and that sort of thing, and I just always been trying to look for something to do, and being in the area, I kinda saw the need.”
From frequenting the Warrens area he said that he found the location was missing this piece in its cuisine puzzle. Looking around the food court he explained that he would come out and can’t find something to eat, “no insult, but you want something a little different, a little nutritious, a little better, good price, so that’s kinda how I built on Bowl’d.”
And he really is offering options which are not on any other menu. For example, instead of regular carrots, Bowl’d has pickled carrots – “a little acid, a little sweet but they work”.
The sauces also pull from different places so there is the mango scotch bonnet, the pineapple ginger, and more, which he promises, “It’s all really for your palette.”
Noted as a must try was the rum sauce and plantain, which he said, “Some refer to it as bread pudding”.
Apart from the business partners, there are five female staff members – Supervisor Ayisha Sandiford, Head Cook Shanice Reid, and Line Cooks: Tee-Anna Roach, Aliya Carrington and Tynisha Watkins.
Well-known Chef Dane Saddler consulted on the project.
Welch told Loop:
“More or less I came up with a lot of the menu myself, then Dane just helped me kinda bring it out, in terms of pairings and building out flavours and stuff.” But with a huge grin, he added, “Some of the recipes are mine, and some of the recipes are Dane’s.”
Everything on Bowl'd's menu is under $25. Welch is trying to keep prices competitive yet still offer healthy.
Up and running now for just over a month, the focus is on making the business even greener and healthier.
On the plate is possibly adding caloric values to the menu items for those health conscious calorie counters. Also, he confessed, “I don’t want to sell soft drinks. Right now, it’s relatively healthy. It’s not for someone competing in competition but for the health conscious – yes!”
At Bowl’d they use environmentally-friendly takeaway containers too. “Sustainability is a big part of who we are. We’re not 100 percent sustainable but hopefully, we would like to get there. A lot of principles I am trying to incorporate.” Amongst them are considering the environment, working and give back to the local farming community and such.
Glancing at the line of customers growing as they wait to order, Welch was still in a little disbelief that his vision was real. He quietly said, “You know you can put off and put off and put off, but at some point, you just have to start, just start.
“This was a thought for over a year, different opportunities came, things fell-through, people rotated out, it was a very trying process but we just had to keep going.”
Showing the Loop journalist his cell phone, he added, “My WhatsApp status is ‘Stay focused, ignore the noise’. I live by that. That got me through everything.”
To others putting pen to paper and sitting on their dreams, he advised, “People gonna tell you this ain’t gonna work. You should do this. Yuh should do that. I mean, people’s opinions count, but you gotta follow your gut. You just have to follow your gut and start.”
And if you’re lucky to be like Welch who has all his friends and family rallying behind him “hard”, though it may be a “ginormous undertaking” you won't regret getting started. “I am so grateful. You have no idea.”
Welch and Squires are both 35 years old and the pair attended the Louis Lynch Secondary School.