ON a sliver of land, not much more than 50 feet wide and maybe 100 feet long, on Shirley Street in Nassau, sits a red double decker bus just like those you see in London.
Wedged between New Oriental dry cleaners to the east and the looming Doctors Hospital to the west, the two-story vehicle with the red and white striped awning isn’t going anywhere. Just to make sure it doesn’t rev up and roll out, there’s a chain link fence adorned with bright plastic flowers blocking it in.
I confess I’d been curious about the red double decker ever since it landed there a little over a year ago, but I also admit I was not curious enough to take whatever action was necessary to satisfy my curiosity. The few times I gave it any serious thought, something more important came up. So the bus and I sat, not knowing much about each other, for a good while until one day a friend called and with great enthusiasm burst out, ‘Hi Di, I just had a unique experience, you really should try it, that double decker bus by the hospital. The food was so good and it was fun.”
At last, a clue – the bus was a restaurant and apparently the food was worth calling someone about. So we gave it a try and what we discovered was more valuable than whatever fish or burger or chicken dish was on the menu (though food was fresh, cooked to order and tasty, my friend was right, but that is not the point).
We discovered one of the most interesting characters in The Bahamas, a man named Keevon Maynard, someone who has the certification to be a lawyer, the wisdom to know how he wants to practice and the courage to do so looking at the stars from the rooftop of the double decker bus. He doesn’t always stare at the heavens. Sometimes his laptop which doubles as his office is perched on a stool inside the room that holds the restaurant’s freezers and refrigeration.
Maynard, 37, is yes, part of that Maynard family with something like seven or eight attorneys, though none in his immediate family. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, now chair of UB and former Attorney General, is his second cousin, former Deputy Prime Minister the late Clement Maynard and former Bahamas Bar Association President Peter Maynard are both relatives. Law may be in his DNA, but cooking, entrepreneurship, technology and nature are in his soul. Maynard’s caseload as a sole practitioner is full, often keeping him under the stars at his laptop until midnight. He once practiced with one of the major law firms but the hours and confinement did not suit his spirit that has a touch of wanderlust, searching for something new he can develop, like the app he just completed called Searchkey, a tool that makes buying or selling a service, product, event ticket, or just about any task except banking you can do online easy.
Or like opening a restaurant in a 1988 Leyland Olympia model bus.
“I was fascinated by the double decker bus when I was in London,” says the bachelor who graduated with an LLB from the University of Law and was called to the Bar in the UK and in The Bahamas in 2015. And who, by the way, holds three undergraduate degrees and two Masters, one in International Relations and the other in Public Diplomacy, saying that the relative of a former girlfriend he wanted to impress inadvertently propelled his education journey.
When he decided to leave the large law firm and after working in international finance, Maynard’s thoughts of bringing a double decker to Nassau grew more intense. Shipping the bus to The Bahamas, clearing and positioning it on the narrow property his grandfather loaned him was the first hurdle. The second hurdle was the re-fit. Maynard converted the bottom level into a kitchen. He re-worked the seating, turning the original seats on the top level around to create two rows of three booths with tables he also built by hand. The upper deck seats 12 comfortably or a max of 24 under awning and there is seating for another 30 or so in a garden-like setting with attractive Balinese style furniture.
But the biggest hurdle was opening week, November 4, 2021. For one week, Maynard waited for someone to walk through the gate and discover what he thought would make for a novel experience for visitors and locals. “No one came. I looked around and thought it was the biggest mistake I ever made.” Over the next few weeks, he tried everything, breakfast, lunch, dinner, hoping the experience of eating on a double decker in The Bahamas would appeal to some and it would magically catch on. (Now open for lunch Tues-Sat, lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturdays).
“I was convinced the concept would drive people in, an out of town kind of feeling right in town,” he said. Still no one noticed it. And then slowly, one by one, locals mostly began to discover the red double decker bus in an unlikely place and the artistic, creative lawyer whose energy for exploring the unlikely in entrepreneurship seems to know no bounds.
At night, when the stars are out, the staff has gone home and the restaurant has closed, Keevon Maynard sits atop his 2-storey open air office, researching a case, completing submissions or just gazing at the stars and thinking how magical life can be if you just give it a moment to breathe.
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