"I moved back and felt driven to create something that I felt would be a true representation of a romantic Barbados."
- Brian Ward, Owner of The Cliff Restaurant
Brian Ward, owner of The Cliff Restaurant, talks about his journey which led to him opening up one of the top restaurants in the world. His experiences, close working relationship with the British Chef, Paul Owens plus left feeling as though the media was not representing his hometown correctly, led him to build a space which conveyed the spirit of his childhood and that truly represented the romantic side of Barbados.
TTG: Tell us about yourself
BW: I was born and raised in Barbados. I eventually moved to London for a stint working in the fashion industry and then moved back to Barbados.
TTG: What was your experience like growing up in Barbados?
BW: I had a fabulous childhood, growing up in a densely forested oceanfront hotel owned by my grandfather. Swimming, fishing, surfing, basically living on the beach; proper beach bum lifestyle.
TTG: Tell us how you came about owning your own restaurant?
BW: I worked as a hotel manager at Treasure Beach Hotel in Barbados which was built and owned by my parents. I eventually became involved in the restaurant side of the business. My father was in charge of reservations and my mother looked after the property and landscaping which she thoroughly enjoyed and loved doing. After a few years I met and began a great working relationship with Paul Owens, an English chef who is still with me to this day. He was so successful at the hotel that the demand for reservations from outside of the hotel allowed us to only guarantee guests a reservation at the restaurant on the first night of their stay. However after many years of restaurant management, the overly demanding nature of the business made me rethink my future. My parents eventually sold the hotel and Paul Owens and I went on to Carambola restaurant also on the west coast of Barbados, as was Treasure Beach.
"My primary inspiration was from a memory of fishing at night using kerosene coke bottle lamps, hence the now present flambeaux lining the rails and roof of the restaurant."
- Brian Ward
TTG: What has your vision been for The Cliff?
BW: I then sold Carambola restaurant and moved to Canada for a brief period. While living there I saw Barbados continuously misrepresented in the media. I would see such things as an image of Tahiti beach setting in a Barbados advertisement with many others anomalies appearing frequently. This felt fundamentally wrong to me as a Barbadian who loved and missed his home. I moved back and felt driven to create something that I felt would be a true representation of a romantic Barbados. I then designed The Cliff restaurant in such a way that it would convey the spirit of my childhood. My primary inspiration was from a memory of fishing at night using kerosene coke bottle lamps, hence the now present flambeaux lining the rails and roof of the restaurant. I wanted the entire place lit by firelight. I reconnected with Paul Owens and our culinary journey began. The romantic design, Paul’s amazing cuisine, the warmth and genuine nature of Barbadians coupled with sophisticated European style service just felt to be the real recipe for success.
What is your proudest moment at The Cliff?
BW: When the Cliff was voted in the 50 top restaurants in the world.
TTG: Tell us about what you do at The Cliff.
BW: Keeping The Cliff successful and relevant is a full time job. We have a large client base of high profile guests who we need to keep happy. I spend my days overseeing and maintaining the high standards which our clientele have come to expect over the course of nearly 25 years. Unfortunately I am not in a position to mention the many funny anecdotes of our celebrity guests as I am very strict on maintaining our policy of ensuring our guests privacy.
"The Cliff was voted in the 50 top restaurants in the world."
- Brian Ward
TTG: What do you think makes The Cliff popular on social media?
BW: I think people just love to share their best experiences. The Cliff provides an incredibly dramatic setting and I have always strived to make each and every one of our guests feel special. With the photogenic fire-lit environment and beautifully presented food, I believe that The Cliff is the perfect place to spend time with friends and loved ones.
TTG: What has been your best experience during the The Cliff?
BW: Honestly, it’s hard to pick a single moment, but it was quite special when we discovered that we had ocean dwelling diners in the form of huge tarpon fish as well as rays. As the kitchen fillets their own fish the chef decided to feed the ends/scraps to our sea world friends one of whom (ray) was named Bob due to having a stump for a tail.
"As the kitchen fillets their own fish the chef decided to feed the ends/scraps to our sea world friends one of whom (ray) was named Bob due to having a stump for a tail."
- Brian Ward
TTG: What makes The Cliff unique?
BW: I believe that any time someone commits themselves to try and make something great, that it makes it unique. While I fully believe in what I have created, I think the longevity of the business should be credited to Paul’s commitment to maintaining the best quality of food possible with his unparalleled kitchen team and to Peter (Huggie) Harris “the host with the most” welcoming hospitality and floor staff.
TTG: Tell us why people visiting Barbados should make a stop at The Cliff
BW: I would recommend it as the ideal venue to celebrate a special occasion whether as a couple, small or large private group to create wonderful and lasting memories. A gentleman once told me he would return as it made him feel as if he was part of a romantic ceremony.
TTG: Sum up the The Cliff in three words.
BW: Close to me.
TTG: Where do you go in Barbados to escape?
BW: Martin’s bay. It’s on the south east coast and about as isolated as you can get in Barbados.
"Get to know some locals at a rumshop and soak up some of our local beverages, food and culture… I do, it’s a lot of fun."
- Brian Ward
TTG: Tell us one thing that tourists don’t really know about the island.
BW: We have the smallest snake in the world.
TTG: When you're not at work, where on the island would you be most likely be found?
BW: Having tea on my lawn with my dogs, next to my greenhouse where I grow organic heirloom tomatoes as a hobby.
TTG: If you could only recommend one thing for visitors to do on Barbados during their stay, what would it be?
BW: Get to know some locals at a rumshop and soak up some of our local beverages, food and culture… I do, it’s a lot of fun.