Off Season Blues

I noticed three openings recently, a major one at Palm Beach Plaza, Los Soles, an upscale Mexican restaurant. The place enjoyed a soft-opening last week, with mall tenants in attendance.

Mom’s recipes are the inspiration for the cuisine, says Carlos whom I found in the dining room overseeing last minute details before the guests arrived.

He runs the place in collaboration with his brother, all living in Venezuela, and sharing their time between their new restaurant in Aruba and a few well-established eateries in their suffering homeland.

The place is tastefully decorated, and super cute, with an outside lounge area and inside air-conditioned seating.

Then I noticed on the Bakval/Salina Cerca road two places, a coffee and tea house by the name of Aroma & Mocha, and a take away, Beach Food, open from 7am to 3pm.

For Aroma & Mocha, they serve D&E Dutch coffee, which is widely available, but they have lots of interesting Chinese teas, against blood pressure, sugar spikes, aging, and a million other afflictions.

I cannot say anything about Beach Food take away except that it is decorated with reclaimed wood, and looks beachy. I drove by a few times in the afternoon but they are closed. I guess when they say they open from 7am to 3pm , they mean it.

One of my friends wrote to me yesterday: If you ask about the current F&B scene in Aruba, just pick up a newspaper and you are bombarded by Early Bird specials even from high-end corporate brands.

The offers are attractive, Florins for Dollars, 3-course dinners at $19 to $22.

As a result, restaurants do fill with those attracted to a cheap meal or pizza at $14,00 per person.

Besides, all dishes, from appetizers, to main courses and desserts are being shared and there is no restaurant that escapes this “sharing economy.”

Reservations made and cancelled are at the order of the day.

Aruba has too many restaurants with new ones entering this very competitive and saturated market, every week.

Add all-inclusive and group travel that usually includes F&B events, and taxi drivers being bribed to deliver tourists to certain establishments, and the professional concierges dominating “where people go” through their activities catalogue – then you will conclude that the restaurant business is high risk one.

So we make our money in the high-season and tighten our belt in the low-season.

In general, we have seen a big decline in “foodies” in comparison to last year and the amount of people that are really willing to spend a fair amount on high-priced, quality restaurants has diminished.

Cost of business in Aruba is high and I sometimes wonder how some restaurants that offer major bargains secure the quality of their food, AND pay their pound of flesh to social security, pension funds, and the ever-present tax man.

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August 30, 2017
Rona Coster