Austin Husbands – Man of Many Talents
Austin Husbands is a man from Barbados, of many talents; he has a zest for life and energy to match.
“I like to do a lot of things – anything that involves people. I like people.”
His people skills, tenacity, and love for life have led Austin to build a diverse portfolio of ever-growing achievements, including:
» He is the Director of ‘Radical Water Sports,’ a watersports company.
» He is the joint owner of ‘La Bouche,’ a thriving restaurant in Speightstown, which he works in almost every day.
» The construction, development, and management of holiday homes in Barbados.
» He used to be the Director of ‘Burger Bee,’ a fast food chain on the island.
» He plays the bass guitar, and has recorded with the likes of ‘The Cardinals’ and ‘The Electrons.’
» He is the ‘Deputy Chairman’ of ‘The Beach Operators Association.’
» He was President of ‘The Barbados Beach Association’
» He has entered the last two elections in St James to win a seat in ‘The Democratic Labour Party.’
The late Kenmore Nathaniel Rhysone Husbands, or “Doc” Husbands as he was more commonly known, was Austin’s mother and father’s cousin. Austin grew up surrounded by politics. He remembers taking part in many a political discussion from a very young age.
“When Doc Husbands talked politics with my parents, we were always brought in and allowed to participate from the age of six.”
In 1968 Austin joined the Democratic Labour Party. Today he is the caretaker of the St. James parish and has run for a seat twice. He lost the 2003 election by 1201 votes and 2008 by 223. Austin chose a position that is difficult to obtain, but he has always loved a challenge.
“As long as the party runs I would like to keep running – I wanted to go into politics so that I could help people.”
Austin started off his career in a very different place – he worked as a banker for Barclays Bank.
“I became interested in banking because a Barclay’s accountant boarded with my family when I was growing up. I regularly chatted with him and got a taste for it.”
Austin always wanted to run his own business so learning about banking and finance was a must.
But this is just one side of Austin. He has also got a keen interest in music. Austin’s incredible bass playing has led him to record with the Electrons, the Cardinals, the Solid Senders among others.
“Music is my passion, it soothes me, I still play my bass guitar, and I practice every day.”
Austin still jams with David Reese and has a piano at home. Austin believes that Barbados music needs a lot more exposure and that Barbados hotels should pay for full bands, rather than just a lone musician.
“It’s an insult – musicians have to either travel to make their living or set up a one-man band – and in my opinion, you need a full band to get a particular sound.”
After working in the bank, Austin left to work for himself. He built up a watersports proprietorship while undertaking the responsibility of being The President of The Beach Operators Association which involved the formulation of Barbados’ water sports regulations. Austin believes Barbados has more to offer than is advertised.
“I think we need to do a lot more to promote recreational sports in Barbados – we need to highlight the fun and camaraderie.”
Following this Austin did some contracting and built some holiday homes which he still lets today. Meanwhile, his son Tony followed in his footsteps and moved into water sports.
Tony, now 42 years old, set up ‘Radical Water Sports,’ of which Austin is a Director, nearly ten years ago. Tony has one son (Austin’s grandson) who is 14 and wants to be a full-time musician.
“He plays the piano and violin and sometimes comes to my house to practice.”
Since the birth of his son’s water sports company Austin has continued to build his ’empire’ and now has his restaurant in Speightstown called ‘La Bouche.’ Austin explained that Speightstown is one of the last places to be conquered for tourists; is one of the only places that’s retained its character – this is why he chose to open his restaurant there.
Austin’s restaurant, ‘La Bouche’ can comfortably seat 18 on the upstairs balcony, 30 upstairs on the inside and 18 on the downstairs terrace. It is situated right next to Speightstown’s esplanade and retains an original rum shop downstairs; however, when you come inside it has been decorated beautifully.
It sells local fare – lots of fish and chicken cooked Bajan style as well as:
» Curry on Tuesday,
» Curried Chicken on Wednesday,
» Cou Cou, the traditional Bajan dish, with codfish and lots of gravy or steamed fish on a Thursday,
» Pudding and Souse on Friday and Saturday.
» Currently only the bar is open on Sunday unless they are holding a specific event or function.
The customers are a right mix of visitors and locals, and the prices are very reasonable; for instance, a family of two can come and have a couple of main courses for less than $60. Austin opens the restaurant at 10 am, and he stays open,
“…until whenever – usually very late! We normally have locals and visitors sitting at the bar – it’s a place for conversation.”
Austin supervises the kitchen and bar, alongside his business partner, Wayne Babb, who is very experienced in the hospitality business.
“My partner has more than 30 years restaurant experience, while I do the cooking and financing. I am on site almost every day – it’s my second home!”
Austin’s advice to entrepreneurs is to work hard and be honest, and if you don’t know how to do something, seek help or employ someone who does.”
“In life, you don’t always get what you deserve, so you have to keep trying until it happens to you. You have to be prepared to work hard.”
Author: Brett Callaghan