When Matthew Demeritte opened Blue Jays Sports Diner & Bar in its new waterfront location at Elizabeth on Bay, there was a particular woman on his mind – one he wanted to reach out and thank for giving him the courage at 24 to be an entrepreneur.
On Wednesday, she walked into the restaurant. He turned, saw her, his eyes grew as wide as the grin that covered his face and in the moment of surprise reunion, it was hard to tell which one jumped higher or hugged harder.
The woman is his former supervisor, Rebecca Burns, Royal Caribbean International Restaurant Operations Manager.
Demeritte worked with her at Perfect Day at CocoCay, the cruise line’s private island destination in the Berry Islands, Bahamas, for four years.
“From the time he started as a bar utility (assistant), I knew he would be a success,” said Burns, who was in Nassau this week to board a ship. “He was always willing to go above and beyond, to lend a hand, to do more than was expected of him. He always wanted to help everyone around him so when I heard he opened a restaurant, I had to come and surprise him.”
Burns not only recommended him for promotion when he was with Royal Caribbean, she instilled in him the confidence that enabled him to do what he is doing now – taking a risk and working hard to make a go of a very challenging business.
“She taught me so much,” said Demeritte. “She was my life mentor. I looked to her for advice on just about everything and no matter how busy she was, she always found time.”
Demeritte rose to a supervisory position, cabana lead. But cooking and entrepreneurship were never far from his mind.
Now at Blue Jays, the sight of the cruise ships is never far from view. The restaurant with a tight interior wraparound bar and sports lounge and a spacious outdoor seating area specializes in dishes like cracked conch, conch quesadillas and burgers served with tropical drinks that look as good as they taste.
“I couldn’t have done it without her,” he says, holding on to Rebecca for the moments she’s standing on his turf. He turns to her and adds, “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you.”