Last Tuesday saw the launch of yet another culinary option in Georgetown for persons who favour eating out, with the formal opening of the Silhouette Restaurant.
Located on the middle floor of the building housing the popular fast food facility, JR Burgers, at Sandy Babb Street, Kitty, the Silhouette marks the latest business investment by the well-known Rahaman family.
Ryan Rahaman, who agreed to speak with Stabroek Business about the advent of the Silhouette says the new restaurant affords Guyanese the opportunity to immerse themselves in a fine dining experience. Interestingly, the launch of the Slihouette coincides with the establishment of a surfeit of fast food franchises in the capital.
Ryan’s mother, Carolyn, who also spoke with the Stabroek Business, says that her own personal challenges in finding a suitable restaurant where she could eat out with her family helped to influence the decision to create the Silhouette. Carolyn says she believes increased travel abroad among Guyanese who still reside in Guyana has created a heightened demand for experiences similar to what they enjoy abroad.
The Rahamans say that they were encouraged by the public’s response on Tuesday’s opening night and are banking on the prospect that the restaurant’s varied menu will also attract the growing numbers of employees of international organisations represented in Guyana, tourists, short-term visitors and Guyanese families looking for good food.
There is evidence that in planning the venture the Rahamans have done their homework. Their choice of manager, Kim Ward, comes from Barbados, the lead country in the regional tourism industry. Ward has more than fifteen years of training and practical experience in the fine dining industry. She says that “as you come to dine you are looking for a special ambience and service; you come to be served in a special kind of way.” Allen, the Silhouette’s Head Chef and another Barbadian with considerable experience in the food industry agrees. His focus, he says, is on using the Silhouette to raise the bar as far as fine dining in Guyana is concerned.
Food apart, the focus at the Silhouette will embrace all of the various protocols associated with dining out. Staff manner, treatment of guests, correct table settings, fine wines and a la carte menus will be common features at the Slihouette, the Rahamans say.
Black, white and red are the chosen colours for the interior of the Silhouette. It seats 65 guests simultaneously. The interior of the restaurant seats fifty guests while the balcony, which overlooks Sandy Babb street seats fifteen persons. The restaurant is open from 18:00 hrs to 23:00 hrs daily.
While local cuisine will feature prominently on the Silhouette’s menu, the restaurant’s culinary offerings will include an assortment of steaks and seafood. And while the restaurant favours prior reservations it will accept walk-in customers on the condition that it is not fully booked at the time.
No courtesies are spared the Slihouette’s customers. On arrival they take the elevator to the middle floor where they are greeted and escorted to their seats. If customers arrive early they are shown to a waiting area. Alternatively, they may be invited to enjoy the hospitality of the Altitude, a bar opened a year ago on the top floor of the building.
Carolyn believes the Silhouette could be ideal for intimate and family occasions – like anniversaries, birthdays, special or regular family dinners. Prices, she says, have been set at a level that is designed to encourage patronage.
The Rahamans say that their quest to provide “the very best service” meant that they challenged themselves to recruit competent staff. In the process they were required to look outward, to Barbados, where the experience of a mature tourist industry meant that they were more likely to find what they were looking for; hence the recruitment of both the Restaurant Manager and a Head Chef from that island. The Rahamans say, however, that the imminent completion of studies abroad by another family member will significantly boost capacity since plans are in place to establish a school locally for training in the various aspects of fine dining. The Rahamans are banking on the likelihood that more training will significantly reduce the current high staff turnover.
Nor do the Rahamans regard the location of the Silhouette as a deterrent to patronage. They believe that the Silhouette offers the opportunity to retreat from busy downtown areas though they recognise that these days the challenge of parking is not confined to the city.
When the Silhouette opened its doors on Tuesday it became the third member of a family of businesses in the hospitality sector housed in a single building and owned by the Rahamans. They believe that the location of the three facilities – the Altitude, the Silhouette and JR Burgers – in the same building provides some particular advantages in the area of management.
The Rahamans say they cannot put a number on the size their investment. Their constant search for improvement and upgrading means that the project is still a work in progress. Growth will depend on customer response. What the Rahamans are hoping is that the increased local investments in the food and hospitality sector will persuade government to grant investors tax concessions similar to those extended to hoteliers during the period leading to the 2007 Cricket World Cup.