THE PLACE TO BE AT SUNSET ON ST HELENA | Darrin Henry
Rosie’s Bar and Restaurant on St Helena welcomed over 450 guests on Friday night, 8 December 2017, for a sparkling Grand Opening event, with owner and first-time entrepreneur Rosemary Bargo, known to all as Rosie, realising a dream that began over 14 years ago.
…Then Life Happens!
The brand new two-storey building at the top of Ladder Hill and the bottom of Half Tree Hollow, overlooks the vast South Atlantic and glows orange in the evenings as the sun dips into to the sea.
On the ground floor of Rosie’s Bar and Restaurant is the 60-seater dining area and kitchen. On top is the spacious Lounge Bar opening onto a wide promenade of a veranda where customers will be able to chill with cocktails while trying to spot the green flash at sunset. The whole place can be configured to accommodate up to 530 people.
“Since 2003 when I returned to the island I knew I wanted to do something like this,” said Rosie, “a bar and pizza type place was what I had in mind. I felt the island needed a facility like this as options were quite limited at the time. But you know, then life happens! You get kind of side-tracked, but it was always on my mind.”
“It was a worrying time”
About seven years ago Rosie decided it was time to make the project happen. “I got serious,” she told me.
“For me, the most challenging part was going into a business where I didn’t have the experience.”
Six and a half years were lost in procedure as Rosie battled to overcome the challenges of securing land, planning approvals and all the other tedious regulation boxes that needed to be ticked on a project this size.
Rosie’s career to date has always been in finance, more recently as Manager of the Bank of St Helena. Not knowing both the building and entertainment/catering trade caused plenty of headaches. “It was a worrying time. I was scared about getting the right builder.”
Things changed after Rosie approached local building expert, Phillip John.
“I think Phillip took pity on me,” said Rosie, laughing at the memory, “he really helped with professional advice and direction. This then led to Johnny Isaac (Isaac’s Contractors) coming on board as the building contractor and that was it, he was absolutely the right builder who turned my dream into reality.”
Rosie’s Bar and Restaurant – The Inspiration
Actual construction on the site itself took exactly six months and two days, start to finish, that in itself an incredible achievement on St Helena.
Inspiration in the design and concept of Rosie’s Bar and Restaurant has come from Rosie’s life experiences, living and working on Ascension Island and the USA.
“I wanted a place that was open all the time, where people didn’t have to pre-book for a meal,” explained Rosie, “they could just turn up during the day, in the evenings or after work on their own terms and get good service.
“During my four years living in the States I took note of the customer service attitudes and wanted to bring that high level of service to my business.
“I know what I’m doing is very ambitious, but you know, I keep saying, ‘why not?’
“A lot of people have told me ‘you can’t do that,’ or they’ll say ‘it won’t work Rosie.’
“But I don’t believe a place like this can’t work here; why not? Why can’t we have a place that’s open seven days a week, all day long?”
Rosie also acknowledged that her plan is big and it might turn out she’ll have to scale back to meet the realities of operating. But she’s also fiercely determined to give it a good go.
Grand Opening of Rosie’s, An Amazing Night
“On the night I was overwhelmed by the response, even just that everyone showed up,” said Rosie afterwards. “At the same time I was worried, trying to coordinate all the little things in the background that no-one could see. I guess I’m now at the beginning of that steep learning curve!”
If Friday night’s opening event is anything to go by this project has as much chance of success as anything ever launched on St Helena. It’s an establishment that’s effortlessly classy and inviting.
The atmosphere in Rosie’s Lounge Bar was electric. The venue was brand new yet it immediately felt familiar and welcoming. Rosie herself is a St Helenian well known for her glamour, her infectious sense of fun, energy and friendliness, and somehow she has woven these aspects of her character into the building itself.
From the first moment the place came alive with excited chatter, the bartenders were kept busy and the dance floor filled with smiling faces eager to enjoy a historic night.
The atmosphere was incredible.
As Saints we are immensely proud of Rosie and what she has achieved and just like the many, many people I’ve spoken to since Friday night, one of our own who’s really done good. We wish Rosie’s Bar and Restaurant the very, very best for a prosperous and happy future.
Here are a few pictures from that wonderful Grand Opening night.