It did not take long before Marcy's Kitchen, the only business sponsored through the Government venture capital fund this year, to lose its whole staff (including its chief executive/creator) and its name--all in just a matter of six weeks!
The former chief executive, Marcellus Miller, explained this hit was due to the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund and its administrators, Baker Tilly Gomez, voting him out last month without cause, just after taking an 80 per cent equity stake in the business—leaving him a meager 20 per cent equity stake and nothing else. Miller expressed it was these individuals who had, just weeks earlier, helped him to realize his dream.
According to Miller, the airport restaurant was not even expected to gross $700 per day by the fund; yet, the net profits were rolling in as $2,300 to $2,700 per day just before Miller and his team were ousted by the then-left two-man Board of Directors.
Miller did note, however, that the venture capital fund’s administrators requested he form a five-member Board of Directors, whereas Miller could appoint two directors himself. The remaining board members were to be the two fund administrators, which was to include Jerome Gomez as chief administrator.
Admittedly, Gomez said that the $1 million per year government-sponsored fund does indeed retain a share in the businesses they sponsor as a means of protecting their investment.
Gomez also recently addressed a Nassau Institute seminar last week, in which he seemingly referred to Marcy’s Kitchen, explaining that there are occasions in which it is necessary to expel the original entrepreneur from a company’s Board--especially when his actions disregard previously-set arrangements.
"We had to do it recently with an equity project we had invested in, as the entrepreneur was doing things contrary to agreements," Gomez stated. "We had to convene a Board meeting, and voted him out. He just has an equity investment in it."
Gomez also explained that Marcy’s Kitchen was only invested in by the venture capital fund due to its three-year contract to manage a restaurant at that particular airport. He further stated that many of the businesses started through the fund had lost an approximate 50 per cent of its initial $4 million value since its incorporation five years prior. Additionally, he said that the fund regularly takes control of businesses that appear to not be succeeding, in efforts to recoup the loan from the fund.
This contradicts Miller’s position that Marcy’s Kitchen had exceeded its expected potential, explaining his confusion as to why he would be cast out from his own business venture and the name of his company being changed.
Marcy’s Kitchen, now Island Café, no longer has any connection to Miller regarding its day to day maintenance.
Gomez would also not answer as to whether or not Island Café was now owned by the fund, declining to comment any further on this matter and stating simply that he intends to draft responses to any article the media publishes regarding it.