The brain behind this operation is Kathy Ann Alexander, a Trinidadian with a personality that’s as spicy as her menu. Raised in the country side of Trinidad in Siparia, Alexander has been in Canada since 1986 and that signature Trini accent is still in her voice; a happy sing song lilt that makes you want to dance whenever she speaks. She’s the founder and head chef at Trin & Bago’s, but still finds time to go from one customer to the next making sure they’re enjoying the food. She gets a round of smiles and thumbs up; people are busy devouring doubles, pholouri and roti.
“I’m really excited for the launch. We’ve been operating quietly at this location for a few months so it will feel good to officially make our mark on July 20,” says Alexander. “When people see this little house from the outside they think of home cooking and that’s exactly what they get. I cut up all my herbs like I would at home. I don’t like to depend on powdered seasoning to cook my food. I cook one little pot at a time so it’s always fresh. My hydro bill is kind of high but at least I know the food is healthy and tasty.”
Trin & Bago’s used to be Four Girls Restaurant (inspired by Alexander’s four daughters), also located in Whitby just around the corner from where it is now. But what a difference one block makes. On Dundas Street near Centre Street, without easy parking for customers Alexander found it hard to get people’s attention. When the Brock Street location (with parking at the rear) became available 18 months later, Alexander jumped at the opportunity and has seen a world of difference with business almost tripling.
“We are so busy sometimes there are even long line ups in here especially at night. Even during slow periods, someone is in here every 15 minutes or so. On the weekend we stay open until 3am to serve the party crowd, so we make a lot of our business there,” says Alexander.
Before Four Girls came to Whitby, the restaurant was located in Ajax, an opening Alexander struggled to pull off. “I got the place totally renovated and by the time the launch day came around I realized I had no money to even buy food! So I literally went home and scraped up all the spare change and cash around my house and came up with $67. I bought a small amount of food and started selling. As we made money during the day we kept going back to the local grocery store to buy more supplies. I made that $67 stretch!”
It’s the kind of resilience Alexander learned from her wise grandmother who taught her how to cook. “I remember her having me stand on a stool over the kerosene gas stove or fanning the coal pot. I was 8 years old when I made my first dish. It’s a spinach meal called crep croc. She showed me how to “oil” it down in coconut cream. And I knew I did a good job when my grandfather tasted it and smiled. He said, you’re going to be a great cook one day,” says Alexander.
Kathy Alexander is so excited for Durham residents to come get a taste of some authentic Caribbean food fused with a few familiar dishes. During the grand opening Trin & Bago’s is giving away a 32” Flat screen TV to one lucky Facebook Fan. There will be $5 meals all day, and 2 for 1 for purchases from 2-6pm. Free doubles will be provided for all meal purchases over $5, all day. The first 50 customers will also get a free Grace drink with any meal purchase. Live entertainment and lots more prizes to win. Kids will be treated to hot dogs and drinks for the price of $1, proceeds will be donated to charity (TBD).
“I’ve come a long way, says Alexander. “I’m really looking forward to the launch... it’s nice to know that this time around I’ll have a lot more than $67 to start with,” she says with a wide smile.
Address | 148 Brock Street North, Whitby, ON L1N 4H3
Date | Saturday July 20, 2013
Time | Opening hours 9:00am to 3:00am
Ribbon Cutting & Live Entertainment | 2:00pm to 5:00pm
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