Opinion: Tantra nightclub wants bartenders from New York

POSTED: 09/13/11 12:58 PM

So how many local St. Maarteners are fit to work as a bartender in Tantra, the self-described hip nightclub in Maho? Take any number between zero and ten, but keep in mind that if you pick a number between one and nine, your answer is wrong. The correct answer is zero – and it is a serious number worthy of the attention of our Minister of Labor Cornelius de Weever.
One of St. Maarten’s main headaches is the insane rate of youth unemployment. It hovers somewhere around thirty percent which means that three out of every ten young people are looking for a job.
One would think that there are jobs for locals as bartenders and waiters available, but we found out that Tantra and Bamboo Bernies prefer to fly their waiting staff in from New York City.
Craiglist, a web site job hunters scour for opportunities, posted two vacancy ads on Saturday for both Tantra and Bamboo Bernies.
This way we learned that a company called St. Maarten Guest operates “several high volume restaurants, bar, and lounges in sunny and warm St. Maarten.” The company is looking for “qualified bartenders and wait staff with a minimum of 3 years experience working in full service establishments.”
It’s a mouthful, we agree, but basically St. Maarten Guest is looking for people who are able to carry a glass of beer or preferably a more expensive cocktail from a bar to a table occupied by paying guests. In Tantra, that seems to be not just any job.
“Tantra is a very hip night club along the lines of Tao Las Vegas. We seek efficient and fast bartenders. Flair skills are encouraged. While English is widely spoken a second language is helpful,” the post on Craigslist reads.
St. Maarten Guest states that it is affiliated with a number of restaurants in New York City and that it will be interviewing candidates during the next three weeks. For some reason, the web address brotherjimmys.com is added to this information.’
Interested candidates are asked to email a resume with a current head shot. A US or a European passport is a requirement. The company provides roundtrip airfare and housing for the first two weeks.
Here is the clincher: “We are looking for hip and youthful candidates. The work paper process in St. Maarten gives preference to female candidates for this profession as there is a shortage on island.”
Basically we learn from this post on Craigslist the following about St. Maarten Guest. Its opinion about local candidates for bartending and waitressing is low, to put it mildly. Since the company is looking for certain qualities outside the island, we take it that they do not find them here. In other words, the owners of Tantra find local bartenders and waitresses inefficient, slow and lacking flair. And maybe they fear that locals misinterpret the request for a headshot, and that they’ll be held responsible for the consequences.
St. Maarten Guest is also looking for a chef “with knowledge of Asian and Latin flavors” for its “hip Pan Asian restaurant and grill.” That’s Bamboo Bernies in Maho. We’ll forgive them for this one, because we figure that such chefs are thin on the ground in St. Maarten.
But even so. We always thought that all vacancies in St. Maarten have to be advertised locally. For good measure we plowed through all the pages of yesterday’s other daily newspaper, which is, by all means, quite an adventure.
That’s how we hit upon a vacancy ad for a maintenance mechanic and a diesel mechanic. “Only Antillean and Dutch nationals need to apply.” Another ad from Labor Xperts has jobs on offer for cashiers, cleaners and a nail technician. Same song: “Antilleans ONLY or persons with a valid work permit need to apply.” We’ll save you the exclamation marks that came with this sentence.
Cupecoy Development is looking for a general manager and an architect, the Mental Health Foundation wants a secretary to its director and Visser Pharmacy is looking for a pharmacist.
It’s not that there are no jobs on offer, but St. Maarten Guest, Tantra or Bamboo Bernies certainly did not find their way to a local newspaper office to publish their vacancies.
Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves here and those ads will appear in the very newspaper you are reading here today. But somehow we don’t think this will happen, ready as St. Maarten Guest seems to be to interview candidates in New York City, rather than on the Boardwalk or in Maho.
What is also weird is that the company claims that “the work paper process” prefers female candidates and that there is a shortage on the island. A shortage of what? Waitresses? Male bartenders? Are the women who apply for the job in New York maybe hired as so-called exotic dancers?
It seems appropriate for Labor Minister de Weever to look into this matter and to ask the company what is wrong with our local bartenders and waitresses. And maybe he could also look into who is involved in granting the company work permits for its imported hip, efficient and fast personnel with flair skills.

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Comments (1)


  1. Fozzie Bear says:

    Do you really think that they’d spend the money to fly people down here if the quality of labor was even remotely up to par with what is needed to run a business? I stood in line today at KFC for 45 minutes with only ONE customer in front of me while 5 employees piddled around doing nothing. Can you really blame a business that wants to make money?