The Luck of The Tides
Anyone that thinks the restaurant industry is easy has no idea. The hours are long and grueling, the stress levels are high, the daily demands are immense, and there is the constant pressure to create something that has both prosperity and longevity. Some say the first year of running a restaurant is the hardest to get through. When the second year comes along things get even bleaker.
— By Joanna Fox
According to the National Restaurant Association, 70% of restaurants that make it through their first year close within the next five. Every year after that, they’re basically holding their breath and rolling the dice, striving to not only meet customer expectations but exceed them time and time again. It’s enough to keep anyone up at night, and for some chef/owners, such as Guy Beasley of The Tides Restaurant in Barbados, it certainly has in the past.
After half a lifetime working as a chef and holding many prominent positions both in Barbados and in Europe, Beasley has finally found himself on solid ground: he’s been the chef of the very sophisticated, memorable and popular Tides Restaurant for the past 15 years. When you consider that the average lifespan of a restaurant is barely a year, that’s definitely something to be proud of. On top of that, 8 years ago, Beasley and his wife Tammie, who also happens to be his business partner, bought the The Tides property outright. So not only do they operate an incredibly successful business, they also own it.
For Guy Beasley, it’s really a dream come true after a long and winding career as a chef that all started as a stroke of pure luck back when he was finishing high school in England. Beasley explains:
“My mum and dad had put me through private school in England but I wasn’t ever really interested. My sister was doing hotel management so I thought to myself: if she can do that, I can do that. I interviewed at the college and I got into the craft course, which was cooking. I accepted, not knowing anything about it, but once I got into it, I realized it was just my bag. I finally had some success in cooking, whereas I had never found success in school. I was passing my exams and my tests, I was finally doing well at something. That’s how I fell into cooking and it’s really just grown from there”.
After Beasley finished his three-year culinary program he got a job in Jersey, the largest of England’s Channel Islands just off the coast of Normandy, France. It was there that Beasley met the people who would essentially change the course of his life: The O’Haras. The O’Haras had been living in Barbados since the 1950s where they owned the Coral Reef Club and happened to be visiting Jersey. Unhappy with his current position, Beasley asked the couple if there was any chance he could work for them. Shortly after, Beasley received a 6-month work permit for Barbados and promptly made his way to an island he knew almost nothing about.
Working in Barbados was an incredible experience, but once his work permit ran out, Beasley had to return to England. Being from Coventry, a landlocked city in the center of the country, as soon as Beasley got home he wanted to leave. This time he went to St. Lucia, working as a sous-chef. After having a taste of Barbados, Beasley found life on this smaller and less-progressive island very challenging.
“St. Lucia is very different to Barbados. Although Barbados, at that time in the mid 1980s, was behind the times, St. Lucia was in the dark ages. Really. Like no fresh milk, no cream, no dairy, nothing fresh, very little product there, so it was difficult. In the end I worked for about 4 months and decided this wasn’t for me. I called the O’Haras up again and they told me to come over. They organized another work permit for 6 months and I immediately flew from St. Lucia to Barbados to start at The Sandpiper Hotel. It was also during that time, that I met my wife, Tammie”.
After his second work permit was up, Beasley and Tammie moved to London together and began working with Albert and Michel Roux. The Roux brothers are often considered the godfathers of English cuisine. Beasley learnt from the best while training at their three Michelin Star restaurant, Le Gavroche, and started to find his culinary voice, while Tammie trained as restaurant manager.
After 4 years with the Roux brothers, Guy and Tammie decided to get married and move back to Barbados in 1991. Despite their temporary intentions, one thing led to another and the couple started a family, making the island their new permanent home.
After an entire career of working for other people, Beasley eventually wanted his own place. Desperate to find something that felt just right, he finally looked at a shell of a property on the West Coast, right on the water in Holetown. With no intentions of liking the place, the moment Beasley saw it he knew that this was meant to be. Guy and Tammie decided to put everything on the line to make this restaurant work.
“We had to borrow half-a-million dollars to set the place up, it was scary times for us. We put all the money into the front of the restaurant and spent very little money in the kitchen. I put all second-hand equipment in there and decided that if we made it through the first couple years, we would then spend money fixing that up. The priority was to get the restaurant looking fantastic and that’s where Tammie came in. She has a great eye for detail and she was paramount in setting all of this up”.
The restaurant opened in 2000 and in spite of a couple hiccups along the way, The Tides made it through its first year, then its second, and just kept on going strong from there. Looking back now, neither Beasley nor his wife, in their wildest dreams, could have anticipated how well the restaurant has done over the past 15 years. “Some people thought we were mad for embarking on this venture”, says Beasley smiling. “We proved that we were able to do it”.
With a style of cuisine that reflects his culinary past, Beasley likes to keep his food simple and not manipulate the ingredients too much. He likes to keep it as fresh as possible and uses a combination of local and imported produce to ensure only the highest quality. He recently hired a new head chef, Simon Tempro, who also happens to be newly married to Tammie’s niece. Simon trained in Miami and brings a more contemporary perspective to Beasley’s classical cooking style. They balance each other out.
It’s not only the food that has kept The Tides on top over all these years though, Guy and Tammie owe a lot of their fortune to the incredible staff led by their devoted restaurant manager, Henry Sealy.
“Our staff are phenomenal”, beams Beasley. “They are hugely loyal, dedicated staff. They’re proud of what we’ve all achieved together and we look after them. None of us anticipated how far we would have come and we’re thankful to all our staff who were able to help us keep going”.