By Davina Bagot
Waterfalls Magazine – Boasting a one of a kind, fine dining restaurant and the first movie theater to grace Region Three, the West Central Mall has finally opened its doors to the public, following two years of construction.
With the region already abuzz with economic development stemming largely from the oil and gas activities, a Meten-Meer-Zorg family responded to the needs for an all- inclusive recreational facility that offers a memorable experience for everyone.
From getting your bills paid, to purchasing dredging equipment or supporting a small business, the West Central Mall at Leonora, West Coast Demerara caters to the needs of all.
The US$5 million facility officially opened its doors on Saturday, following a humble ceremony on Friday. The Waterfalls caught up with the Managing Director, Bhabita Albert yesterday, who is the daughter of Hemraj Albert, Developer of West Central Mall Inc.
She said when the family acquired the land about two and a half years ago, they brainstormed ideas to bring a fresh product to their home Region. “We recognized the gap for a Mall but we never imagined we would have had a facility of this kind, but with the help of architects, stakeholders and other supporters, we were able to finally open the West Central Mall,” she said.
It wasn’t long after that the family began raising capital with the aid of local financial institutions and private investors to begin constructing the facility. West Central features three floors, with most of the construction work completed by locals. In fact, the Managing Director said that while such large businesses may require a project manager or a construction manager, her family personally managed all of the building works.
“We have not had any international help in the construction phase of the mall itself so it’s just us- we designed, we planned and we moved forward, made our changes with our local architects and so on,” she explained.
Presently, West Central features 84 businesses, offering Justice of Peace (JP) services, a salon, laundry, café, Muslim attire boutique and the fast food favourites such as DQ, Mario’s, Jade’s Wok and KFC. The Managing Director said she is most honoured to offer concessions to young entrepreneurs to help push their businesses.
West Central Mall also offers a club and lounge to cater for its visitors. Presently, about 105 persons are employed at the facility with a few vacancies still to be filled.
While West Central Mall was a product of local skills, the movie theatre is being operationalized with services from Bardan International to add a unique flare.
“They are one of the best and fastest growing companies in the United States currently for movies, equipment and implementation systems and we are happy to be working with them,” Albert noted.
She said that the movie theater has two screens, a 2D and 3D screen that are expected to be opened by the end of October.
Unique to Guyana and the local movie experience is the motorized love seats for couples to enjoy film watching.
“The systems are phenomenal and what we did too is to incorporate special seating so our seating ranges from love seats in front for a cozy viewing with your partner- of course just to look at the movies- and we have recliners at the very center of the theater. We are gonna release those prices very soon but I can say it’s very affordable and not very far off from what you pay at the other cinemas,” Albert explained.
She added that even the regular seats in the movies can tilt to offer a more comfortable experience.
Already, West Central Mall is looking at other ways to diversify the movie experience by allowing customers to order food from the restaurant. West Central Movies will be operated by the Guyanese family and is one of the first local theatres.
The Managing Director said that while brainstorming ideas for the land, they realized that the Region also needed a fine dining restaurant where locals and foreigners or Guyanese visiting home can have a place on the western end of the Demerara River to enjoy tasty dishes and a one of a kind ambience in Atlantis- the lost city.
She said, “Atlantis Cuisine is the only fine dining restaurant, not just in Region Three but I would say in Guyana as well. The idea of Atlantis is to give you a feeling as though you are under the water. Atlantis itself is known as the lost city so we decided why not gives you this missing restaurant on the west side, so it’s found. We really wanted to bring something that gives life so my sister and our family decided to give life to the ceilings so when you look up, you get that under water feeling.”
Patrons can also look forward to unbeatable prices and the best customer service, in an air conditioned environment at the restaurant. It also offers outdoor dining and a spectacular view of the surroundings. The local chefs are internationally accredited to serve succulent steak pieces, salads, burgers and the best desserts.
Though there were not many patrons at the Mall when the Waterfalls visited yesterday, a few persons told this publication that they are very excited for the new facility.
Nalini Persaud from Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo said, “I feel real nice, great. I just come to walk around and the environment is real nice, it’s a beautiful mall. I would be using here to pay my bills, we would visit the other malls but it lil far so this one we could always come out here.”
Meanwhile, 15-year-old Maria Ally, with the consent of her mom, said she was excited that a new mall is now closer to her home in Meten-Meer-Zorg. “I am so glad they bring out this new mall. It gives life to our Region and more people will be coming here soon and the students too will come so I am glad.” She said she was most thrilled about the movie theaters.
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