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Jun 22, 2018

The Hustle and Bustle of the Entertainment Strip on Newtown Barracks

The Newtown Barracks area in the city has flourished into our own entertainment strip. Restaurants, bars, clubs, casinos, call centres as well as the popular B.T.L. Park can all be found in that stretch of road. The area is full of night-time activities, which often interrupts the peace of the neighbourhood. But at the same time, over one thousand five hundred persons are employed at various establishments along the strip. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Employment and job creation along the burgeoning entertainment strip on Newtown Barracks has seen the rise of numerous small, medium and large businesses in this most frequented neighborhood in the Old Capital.  Everything can be found here, from a gourmet seafood platter at one of a handful of nearby restaurants, to the ebb and flow of customer service representatives, as they enter and leave any of three call centers in the vicinity.  On weekends, the strip is alive with nightlife, at times much to the chagrin of its surrounding residents.   The number of persons that are working in the area continues to grow at record pace.


Jose Luis Najera

Jose Luis Najera, Executive Chef, Ochuna Restaurant

“I’m the executive chef for Oshuna Restaurant and I’m here to showcase some new Mediterranean dishes and local [dishes].  So we’re having international dishes in our restaurant and we are trying to promote like fructe de mare, that is mostly octopus, fish, lobster, shrimp into our pastas.  Having like Mexican dishes like the roasted pork.  It’s a pork prime ribs with an orange Grand Marnier sauce and we are trying to promote a new restaurant, new recipes for our local Belizean people to taste different flavors from Mediterranean to Caribbean.”


Jose Luis Najera is one of a handful of culinary experts working as a restaurateur along the vaunted entertainment strip, a narrow corridor complete with mom-and-pop, as well as high-end eateries.  Since the rejuvenation of BTL Park under the previous city council administration, there has been a boom in proprietorship in the area, as residents of the Old Capital flock to the area in search of recreation.  Around here, there is Thirsty Thursday, Sit and Sip, the Tap Room, not to mention Midtown Restaurant and the Hour Bar.  The new kid on the block, however, is the Tropicana.


Kara Nisbet

Kara Nisbet, PR, Casino Tropicana

“We’re changing the game when it comes to service in Belize.  I believe that we have a top-of-the-line service team and we’re catering to people that want to be entertained, not just with respect to gaming but if you choose to just come and have a meal here or if you are interested in just having a drink, we offer all those things in one place.  So you could bring your friends and there may be someone interested in one thing and others in another, but it’s a night where it’s a wide array of entertainment.”


The location of Belize City’s premier recreational space, BTL Park, may have been chosen by default when it was first launched over two decades ago, but when it was given a much needed facelift by former Mayor Darrell Bradley, little was done to improve parking in the area.  Employees of the Ex-Servicemen’s League which is also located on the strip have complained loudly about the lack of adequate parking on Newtown Barracks.  With a new player on the scene, the issue has resurfaced, presumably, to a better outcome.


Kara Nisbet

“We have parking on our grounds.  There is one in the front on the side which is right off Newtown Barracks which is now considered the strip and we also have parking located at the back of the Pickwick premises.  So you could either choose to park on either side.  Some nights there might be parking available in one and not at the other.  We also offer valet parking on the weekends for those people that opt not to park in the back, we’ll offer that service for you.  If you do decide to park in the back, we have security on the grounds stationed at areas in the back, as well as if you’re walking from the back parking lot to the premises itself.”


On any given day, there are several hundred employees working on Newtown Barracks.  The economic stimulus generated by the many businesses, including the trio of call centers and gambling dens that litter the strip, is a plus for the city.


Jamie Williams

Jamie Williams, Cashier

“The betting on sports is something new here so we try to do a lot of different advertisements for not only locals, but internationals to come and make bets on their favorite teams.  Here you can do betting on baseball, basketball, American football, soccer, hockey, UFC, boxing, cricket, tennis, horserace and dog race.  Surprisingly there are a few Belizeans who have interest in horseracing.”


That’s just one area of indoor recreation.  In June 2017, there was a move by the Belize City Council to enforce noise abatement regulations within the area.  The idea was met with mixed reactions from business owners.  One such establishment was the Pickwick Club.  The management locked horns with City Hall and after taking a hit, was rebounding fairly well until tragedy struck with the drowning of a high school student back in March.  Today, much of that open socializing has moved indoors.


Desiree Bahadur

Desiree Bahadur, Bar Manager

“Right here, you can come sit and relax and you can either make your choices of a cocktail, a mixed drink.  We have a Mixology bartender so make your choices, we have pina colada, we have margaritas, we have pink lady.  We have all different choices.”


With the number of recent graduates joining the workforce, quite a few of them will find jobs in this part of town, their colleagues either becoming customer service representatives or waitresses and bartenders at the various nightclubs. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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1 Response for “The Hustle and Bustle of the Entertainment Strip on Newtown Barracks”

  1. Marie says:

    Sounds like a pleasant atmosphere. For Belizeans and visitors. Hope the prices are reasonable to attract customers and at the same time create employment.

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