YBP: Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur in Ottawa?
TM: Umm. Honestly, the plans for the restaurant were in the making for about 10 years. We use to do Carivibe. I don’t know if you remember at the Ottawa-Carleton Raceway, that’s when we started doing catering at that event. It was called the Jerk Spot back then.
Then we came out to do Carivibe in Orleans and realized how big the market for Caribbean culture is on the whole, so we started doing catering at the beach events. It started getting bigger and bigger. This year we decided to call it Bananas and it started to spin off. We started looking for a location and found this place in April.
The demand is there. We just decided to jump on it. I was nervous at first but after speaking to people and getting the push from the Mayor (Jim Watson) and Bob Monette (City Councilor for Orleans), they both agreed the timing was right.
YBP: What are your business goals? How do you see your business venture growing in the next five years
TM: We are planning location #2. We are definitely franchising the business, but this is going to be the “hub” where everything happens.
We are looking to open a second location downtown that is not a take-out venue but a sit down venue, more like a Banana lounge. It’s not a club. It’s not dancehall, but a place you can come to after work and listen to some good music and eat some good food. We will have some comedians, live entertainment, but something different. We believe this is something Ottawa needs right now. That’s Part II coming soon.
YBP: What struggles did you face in getting your venture up and running?
TM: I mean it wasn’t really struggles, it was more prioritizing because we do so many things. We do the club stuff, comedy shows, Carivibe, with all these different events we just didn’t have the time to focus on it.
So this year, I did the beach festival with Denis and Dave. After the beach festival I said I am going to take some time off from the parade and work on this. So while they were working on the parade, I was working on getting Bananas up and running.
We knew this was going to happen, it wasn’t any real struggles, it was just prioritizing and putting the time in place.
YBP: What have you learned getting this up and running? What can you share with our members about starting a business?
TM: Honestly, the biggest thing. I mean before we started jumping into it we always thought it was impossible to do. We thought it wasn’t going to happen unless someone came along and invested in us. But I said, you know what, let me just try it. I did not know anything about being a restaurateur. I just knew I wanted to do it. So, I just started doing my research and asking questions of other owners. To be honest, it wasn’t that bad. You just have to do it. That’s what it comes down to. Learn as you go. I can’t sit here and say it was that hard because it wasn’t that hard.
Because of our background in marketing and promotions, we already knew how we were going to market it. The concept was already there. It was just funding. We got through that and after it was pretty easy. Easier then I had expected. You just gotta do it. Get ‘er done.
YBP: What makes you smile?
TM: Getting up and doing what I love to do. Being an entrepreneur. Being a DJ, promoter, and now restaurateur.
I do not wake up thinking I have to go to work. I live at work. I work from home and because I am home, I am always working. I do try to balance it out with my family. I wake up in the morning smiling knowing I am going to work to do something I like to do.