ONE ON ONE WITH.....
Bay Inn Estates, Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera
Captain Bud's Restaurants, Nassau, N.P.
"Think about it... What is authentic Bahamian cuisine? What sets us apart?"
Meet Zandria McCardy, owner of three Captain Bud's takeout restaurants in Nassau (formerly Twin Brothers) and of the Bay Inn Estates, a small twelve-room hotel, bar and restaurant in Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera.
It's a warm Monday afternoon and as we sit in her vacation home in Eleuthera sipping on sweet hot tea with milk, Zandria exudes a natural beauty. She flashes me a dazzling, albeit somewhat nervous smile and recounts her story. It took me by complete surprise. An unexpected tale where she found herself inheriting many businesses when her husband, Buddy McCardy, passed away without warning just a few years ago. She was running a clothing boutique and knew very little about his businesses. That was something that he took care of. But she quickly found herself having to self-educate, just to keep the businesses afloat and to provide for her family. Although she had been in the industry her whole life, she still found herself in quite a predicament in addition to now being a single mother.
As it turns out, she had always dreamed of working in a restaurant from a young age. With a sparkle in her eyes, she vividly recalls when she made her first meal at only 5 or 6 years old. She was with her family in Exuma and had made conch 'n rice 'on the rocks' and ate on 'plates' of grape leaves. She studied home economics in high school and had always wanted to be a cook. It was but a few years ago that she found she had no choice. She was thrust into this leadership position and it was sink or swim.
It was shortly thereafter that I was contracted to help with onsite operational matters at the Bay Inn Estates. The twelve-room property is so quaint and charming in Hatchet Bay, an authentic Bahamian settlement in Eleuthera. It consists of cottages and hotel rooms on a sprawling one acre property. The bar is well known across Eleuthera for its frozen sweet daiquiris - strawberry, pina colada, miami vice and if you're lucky, on some days, mango too. And if you are so inclined, add a drop of rum to it too.
Today, with some business experience under her belt, Zandria tells me that her biggest challenge in operating restaurants in Nassau is finding qualified staff to help with sales and marketing. Recognizing that running a restaurant is so much more than the love of cooking, she is vastly aware of all of the competition. She has learned that you need to pay for the quality of marketing required. In her case, she not only runs one restaurant, but three; plus a hotel, restaurant and bar in Eleuthera. Since the passing of her husband she says running multiple businesses has forced her to start the businesses anew in view of the related legal implications.
As Zandria looks back on it, she can definitely say she loves what she does and is very passionate about it. "Cooking is fun", she exclaims. Food enables her to unleash her creative side. Of course there are challenges, but Zandria happily states that she wouldn't change a thing today. For the next generation, she recommends that you love your career choice. "You need to be passionate about it, because not only is this business very hard work, but the quality of the product you produce will be far superior if you love what you do."