Passions Restaurant Rocks, Permits Ussues

If you are a frequent visitor to this site by now you know that the tone written here is predominantly positive. However, once in a while I call out certain actors/partners in tourism when I see things which I feel are wrong. Lately beach-spaces have been under pressure on several fronts and I’ve been pretty vocal about it. This is from the recent increase in legal construction project but also the tolerated illegal ones. At the end, the latter bothers me the most, because put together it does more damage on the land than otherwise.

Passions Rocks

Passions Restaurant at Eagle Beach, known for its food, service and overall ambiance, was single out this week by the Department of Infrastructure as the only beach-restaurant to have legal title by paying a sort of land tax for the use of the beach. Good for you and thank you for showing the proper respect for public domain. Passions Restaurants is located on Eagle Beach, across from the Amsterdam Manor Resort [also a great establishment]. It’s open daily from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. I would highly recommend this place for sure. Again, food’s good, service’s good and view’s awesome.

Eagle Beach from La Cabana
Amsterdam Manor’s Passions Restaurant at Eagle Beach not only serves wicked food, but is also a good “citizen”

Other beach-restaurants

The rest of the beach-restaurants don’t pay for the usage of the land. I’m already hearing their excuses: “others are doing the restaurant thing on the beach without paying, why should we”, “they have never taxed us, it’s the tax collector’s office’s [read: government] own fault” and a the last one if my favorite “we pay enough taxes as it is”.

All excuses are invalid. Period. If you are using public spaces without permits or without paying land taxes you are acting illegally. Yes, even if the government did a poor job of regulating the public spaces, such as beaches. You know that the beaches are not there for your benefit without compensation. Obviously the government doesn’t go without blame here.

Why regulation

I hate bureaucracy. I hate Aruba-bureaucracy even more. Regulation would mean more administrative control, inefficiency and in Aruba it would mean more public officials which I absolutely don’t want. We have more than enough.

However, strict regulation is needed to halt the free for all on our beaches. In the past perhaps there wasn’t much need for regulation because there were only a handful of restaurants and tourism numbers were small but now not anymore. Now it seems that the current government understands the urgency to control the public-spaces and have announced steps to regulate this sector.

In my opinion the biggest reason we need new regulation in this area is to stop judges making laws. The – by me – much hated jurisprudence [definition: the course of court decisions]. In reality this means that there’s a deficit in organic laws thus obligating judges to make up their own rules. And guess who judges side with? Our judicial systems allows it, but I think it’s immoral. The sovereign [definition: supreme lawmaking authority] needs to wake up. Lawmakers and Ministers need to step up and start passing legislation quickly. Limit the bureaucracy, let the business come to code and stop judges play lawmaker.

Not everything is illegal

Using the beaches for unscheduled activities such as weddings or parties isn’t illegal and shouldn’t be regulated. It’s impossible to regulate it anyway.

Sunset Palm Beach Aruba
Removable structures aren’t illegal, such as a wedding at the Hyatt

New: Asian Bistro

Asian Bistro
New Asian bistro opening soon

South Beach Centre at Palm Beach has another client: J. H. Yee’s Asian Bistro. After losing a Jamaican themed restaurant now they can welcome an Asian themed restaurant.

A new rival in the – for some – overcrowded landscape of restaurants is opening in the middle of the restaurant hot-spot of Aruba: Palm Beach.

It certainly is interesting to see who is going to survive the killer competition between the restaurants. Recently I’ve written a piece about the restaurant business and the competition: State of Aruba.

Update: Starbucks Aruba Soon

Starbucks coming soon
Starbucks Aruba coming soon at Renaissance Marketplace

Correction
As confusing as the banners may be – the banner on the left (below picture) says “Coming soon… Operated by Taste of Belgium” and the banner on the right (above picture) says “Coming soon… Starbucks Coffee (logo)”, plus they even have the same font type – Taste of Belgium isn’t the operator of Starbucks Coffee Shop in Aruba. Most probably the mall itself printed the banners, therefore causing a lot of confusion.

Nevertheless Taste of Belgium is awesome and I still would highly recommend it.

My report about Starbucks coming to Aruba is confirmed. In a big way I might add. In fact, the franchise holder, “Taste of Belgium” screams it out loud. They seem very proud. View below pictures.

To my understanding being able to get the franchise of Starbucks isn’t easy. A lot of requirements has to be met in order for a local company to land the Starbucks franchise. Franchise holder is local Taste of Belgium company, which is a catering/restaurant/chocolate company. Their restaurant, or bistro, at Paseo Herencia is awesome. I would highly recommend that place.

Starbucks’ business has been hit by the economy last year and the company had to take measures in closing several locations. It also received bad – opportunistic – mainstream press for being over-priced among others. Recently I spoke with a Seattle-based Starbucks executive here in Aruba on vacation about the whole situation. He had lots of interesting things to say, with the most important message to me that Starbucks’ coffee is awesome and the company is recovering. Oh, he added that they do sell simple, inexpensive coffees as well.

Starbucks coming soon
Taste of Belgium is franchise holder of Starbucks in Aruba

New in Palm Beach: Burger King

I write mostly about what’s happening in broad area of Palm Beach, specifically about the beach and real estate. The latest news in Palm Beach has a little bit to do with real estate. And restaurants. There is a new gastronomy member in Palm Beach: Burger King.

I’m sure this news makes some people – the purists mostly – shiver. Not necessarily because of the food – admit it, who amongst us hasn’t eaten a whopper in their lives – but mostly because of the perception by some that another piece of Aruba has lost its authenticity. Another American brand, as they say. I think most of Palm Beach has lost its authenticity anyway. And not now, since 1959. It was then, when the first high rise – Aruba Caribbean Hotel – opened its doors.

New Burger King Palm Beach
Burger King Palm Beach, across from Occidental Resort

This particular branch of Burger King is not new. It relocated from Oroubo Plaza (shopping and restaurant area at the main bus station in town) to Palm Beach. Apparently the rent at Oroubo Plaza was steep and the foot traffic poor. Competing rivals McDonald’s and Wendy’s are a big block or two away, meaning now that Burger King has taken a huge advantage over the two, therefore will take tourist market-share from it rivals. Local customers will remain steady at McDonald’s and Wendy’s due to the drive thru window, which Burger King lacks.

New Burger King Palm Beach
New: Burger King Palm Beach

Starbucks Aruba

Starbucks
Starbucks coming soon to Aruba [Starbucks NY, image by FreeFoto.com]

I’ve read unconfirmed reports that Starbucks Coffee Company is opening a coffee shop in Aruba. The proposed location is Renaissance Marketplace – former Seaport Marketplace – in downtown Oranjestad.

Aruba is filled with international – mostly American – brand establishments in the food & beverage industry. The breakfast/coffee sector, however, is still poor in my opinion. Especially on holidays it’s very hard for tourist to get a decent coffee and breakfast.

Starbucks might improve that. Having said that, I must admit in all fairness, that there are a couple of good vendors of coffee – such as Segafredo and Salt & Pepper – in Aruba that are focused to the tourist sector, but there’s always room for improvement. Starbucks’ proposed location seems to focus on the local market. There isn’t any word about when it will open. Again, the news is still premature. To be continued.

Official: Hard Rock Cafe Aruba Grand Opening

Hard Rock Cafe Aruba
Last construction phase finished

Just over a month after the inauguration, yesterday it became official: Hard Rock Cafe Aruba opens officially to the public. The construction of the retail section and the eating area has finalized. Hard Rock Aruba organized a major opening with many local VIPs attending. Some members of the Seminole tribe that owns the Hard Rock brand were also in Aruba. They were escorted by the local Harley Davidson club on the way for the inauguration. The Wailers – Bob Marley’s band – performed as well.

“Love All, Serve All” is the famous creed used at Hard Rock Cafes around the world, and now also here in Aruba. Soon after it opened I visited the establishment and I had a positive experience there. The menu is very large, thus choices in abundance for food and beverages. Though, it is tad pricey.

Despite the fact that for years there were Hard Rock Cafe Aruba t-shirts in circulation – obviously fake – there wasn’t one on the island. Now there is a store with genuine merchandise. Hard Rock Cafe Aruba is located in the heart of Palm Beach, in front of Radisson Resort and opening hours are daily from 11 am until 1 am. On Friday’s and Saturday’s closing time is 3 am.

hard-rock-aruba-opens
Tradition Hard Rock-inaugurations: smashing of guitars. Middle (wearing leather jacket) Aruba’s Prime Minister accompanied by company officials smashing guitars [image by Awe Mainta].

Pictures: Hard Rock Cafe Month Old

Hard Rock Cafe Aruba
Aruba has the world famous Hard Rock Cafe Guitar

Earlier this month Hard Rock Cafe Aruba celebrated its first month of existence. When it opened parts of the construction was still ongoing, however now completely finished.

Comments I received from people who visited is predominantly positive. I personally enjoyed the experience as the menu is very extensive, but at the same time pricey.  More picture after the jump.

Hard Rock Cafe is brand that has been widely expected to open in Aruba. Thanks to some Venezuelan entrepreneurs the franchise opened at South Beach Centre at Palm Beach.

Hard Rock Cafe Aruba
Hard Rock Cafe at South Beach Centre

Hard Rock Cafe Aruba
Freshly planted landscaping

Hard Rock Cafe Aruba
Iconic Hard Rock Cafe Guitar

Hard Rock Cafe Aruba
Menu displayed