Guiyave Restaurant building on Cork Street, Roseau
Guiyave Restaurant building on Cork Street, Roseau

As of Saturday 10, July 2021, customers who enjoyed having the taste of the mouth-watering, savoring meals from Guiyave -one of Dominica's longest-serving family restaurants- will be forced to satisfy their taste buds elsewhere as the establishment is no more.

At 2:43 pm on Saturday the former top-class restaurant and catering service with the tagline 'where our food is our passion and our passion is your pleasure,' issued a message on their Facebook page to inform the public of the news.

The notice read, "the general public is hereby regrettably informed that Guiyave will cease operations as a restaurant and patisserie from July 12, 2021. Any plans to continue catering will be announced at a later date. Management apologies for any inconvenience caused and wished to thank its many patrons who have supported the establishment over the last 40 years."

While management from the company declined to comment on the reason for the closure of the four-decades-old business, an employee who spoke to the Sun was due to financial hardship caused in part by the COVID-19 pandemic and years prior to Covid and the strengthening competition.

"The company has been struggling for some time now to stay afloat and the pandemic really pushed it to its knees," the former longtime employee stated.

Though there is a level of normalcy here in Dominica, we've been told that sales just weren't what they used to be for the company that had no financial cushion and one that has weathered several economic challenges in the past.

The reactions from the public since then have been disbelief, mixed with sadness.

Out of the nearly 100 comments on their Facebook page, one former customer said, "This is a place I loved going from since a teenager and when I am home. Strangely I sense an innovation on your part. I encourage you to wheel and come again. You have been a pillar to the island. Sometimes we all need a break. Don't give up. The name itself is iconic; you already have the bragging rights. Blessings and I will remember the business in my prayers. I really love this place."

Others stated, "This just broke my heart. It's my prayer that you guys will be open back soon," another, "An icon in the Dominican landscape. Guiyave will be missed;" and "Ronald will miss the cooking. Hope it's just to see you later and not goodbye."

The company was started in 1981 by Hermina Astaphan, a mother of four and secretary at then Roseau Credit Union and cook extraordinaire.

It was her dream to provide delicious local meals in a relaxing atmosphere; so with a double helping of faith, courage, and business vision, she retired from her job and entered into the world of professional catering, a mere two years after Hurricane David had ravaged Dominica and eating out was not a cultural custom here on the island.

With the assistance of her small team of five led by Head Chef Hermina, the creation of the Guiyave 'smiling guava' logo with signature green and yellow colours and recipes was created.

The restaurant gained a reputation for authentic tasting local food and became the place to go in Roseau to enjoy mouth-watering meals and fresh tropical juices.

In 1989 Ronald Astaphan joined the team on his return from the Hotel & Catering Institute in Cyprus and has been heading the company ever since.

Inside the picturesque early 20th century building, the dining area was cosy and the balcony with fretwork and plants provides an eating nook for patrons who can view the street activity from above, without the same visibility from below. The Patisserie was added in 1991 on the ground floor and the favourite Paté banane became a staple pastry item on the menu.

The 40-year-old business created tool kits for establishments in six islands including Bahamas, Belize, and St. Lucia, providing a guide to preparing local produce at an international standard.

For over a generation, Guiyave has been the most popular dining choice in Roseau for many Dominicans and visitors. In 2004, based on Guiyave's reputation for excellence, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Culinary Institute of America selected the restaurant to implement a tourism project.