Whether you’re a doubles fan or you never quite understood the hype, the doubles vendor has become a mainstay of local cuisine.
In these current restrictive times where even large restaurant chains were forced to change the way they do business, the ubiquitous doubles vendor has been shut down.
And after two weeks of zero sales, the doubles vendors are feeling the pinch.
At least two popular doubles vendors, Sauce and Skates have advertised that operations would begin again but they’ve adapted to ensure they stay within the law.
The two vendors have decided to offer a call in and pick up curbside, similar to the larger restaurants, however, despite the similarity in approach, the vendors may be shut down when they attempt to open for business over this weekend.
In a media briefing yesterday, Minister of National Security Stuart Young alluded to “roadside vendors” who signalled their intentions to open on the weekend and he advised against it.
This has only added to the doubles vendors ire.
One Sauce doubles woman, who planned to open this weekend does not understand why the Government is refusing to let them operate.
“I understand that we are in a crisis. It is not something that is only happening in T&T, it is across the globe and I am thankful that the Government took the steps they took to manage the situation,” she said.
“I am one of those doubles vendors who say, look, if you selling doubles for ten years and you cant manage a two week shut down then something wrong with you, but then I see all the other restaurants carrying on their business with the take-away,” she said.
“We were following the rules and we see how it going and we weren’t in any rush to open but we have customers too whom the same way people will feel for KFC or Subway, they feel for doubles,” she said.
She said after Young highlighted that roadside vendors were planning to open this weekend, she felt that he did not understand how doubles vending had changed.
“What he does not seem to understand is that we have street vending and we have instore shops, not all of us selling under a tent and have a set of lines. We pay rent, we have taken doubles to a new level where we serve from inside of a shop,” she said.
“I do not see why if other eating places offering curbside, we can’t too,” she said.
According to a social media advertisement, Sauce planned on opening two locations Chase Village and Chaguanas only for call in orders and curbside pick-up.
“We did say what curbside means, you call, place your order and call when outside and someone would bring it to you. The customer won’t be coming in or even come out of the vehicle,” she said.
Another doubles vendor offering the call in service is Skaters. Originally positioned in the food court by the Piarco International Airport, owner Yansil Seeram shut down his business since before Carnival.
“We saw that the airport was not really doing anything really about sanitisers for tourists coming in. All they were doing was checking temperature, “ Seeram said.
“We were looking at the situation in other countries and felt like we couldn’t take the chance, so I have been shut down since before Carnival,” he said.
“We have people calling us, asking us to reopen, to do something because they want doubles and we decided to do it safely, just the weekend and pick up orders only. We not even wrapping them, they coming separately,” he said.
Seeram said he too did not understand why the doubles vendors were being singled out.
“I am thankful I have a wife who is a teacher, so we still have income coming in, but if I was single, I would be out of money by next week,” he said.
In Montrose, Curtis Ramnanan, the owner of Doubles Boss Empire is also worried about the prolonged shut down.
“It’s a lil pressure for us, we have employees who are out of jobs now and a lot of people are suffering,” he said.
Another doubles vendor, Melissa Thackordeen said her entire family is feeling the pinch.
“We have three branches between Penal and Golconda and its all been closed,” she said.
“There’s about 10 to 12 of us out of jobs,” Thackodeen said.
She said that she recently registered her business and bought a company vehicle and now has to pay loans and legal fees with no income.
“We are in the food service industry as well,” she said.
Guardian Media sought clarification on the issue from Young.
“Minister, two doubles vendors are advertising that they’re opening over the weekend. Would you advise against it? How are they any different from restaurants if hey are doing curbside pick up? Would they be shut down?”
He did not respond.