Bill Lauries Steakhouse Mandeville

by Andrew Hernandez
(Ontario)

As a young man just starting out in the working world, I had the good fortune to work for about a year or so in Mandeville. This lead to two very memorable experiences, one was my discovery of Treasure Beach, which was just becoming more widely known in those years, and the other was Bill Laurie's Steakhouse on the outskirts of Mandeville's city center.

This was in the early 1980's. By then Bill's hay days were perhaps behind him, but this only served to heighten my awe at his amazing restaurant and home.

I don't know very much about Bill's story, save that he had come to Jamaica from Britain several decades before and had fallen in love with Mandeville. He eventually opened his restaurant, which became known for its steaks and genuine English pub experience.

A group of us from the office went for a lunch there one day. The pub was on the upper floor of a fine old Jamaican residence complete with dark stained wood floors. White painted balcony railings enclosed the wide verandah which over looked one end of the town of Mandeville. While the view itself was wonderful, I still remember catching my breath as I walked along the verandah and entered the pub. It was another world, the dark wood bar counter, brass-work, wonderfully ornamented and decorated mirrored shelves behind the counter on and on.

Bill was quite the collector, and the pub had just so many interesting nick-knacks. An old airplane propeller of WWII vintage I believe, the de-rigueur darts board, antique styled dark wood tables and chairs. At one side of the bar sat an old record player and beside that a choice collection of records circa early Beatles and before.

It was absolutely the most bone fide rendition of a genuine British pub I had encountered in all my travels around Jamaica then and since.

The Old Indies Pub in Kingston was plain and dull in comparison, and thats the "old" pub which was destroyed by fire in the late 90's I believe. The "new" Indies Pub - don't even know why they would call that a pub.

More recently, I visited a pub in Kingston Ontario which was established 1890's and billed as one of the most genuine British pubs in Canada. Sorry, not a patch on Bill's.

Even as amazing as the pub was, what came next hit my soft spot. Bill was also a collector of cars! I should have know this from the '56 blue and white Chevy Belair out in the parking lot. Out back there was a convertible British two seater, I think it was a Riley, but can't recall clearly now. Wooden dash and steering wheel, leather seats still in fair shape. It was maybe a 1950's model. There was another older car fitted out with the venerable rumble seat and one of my favorites although a bit newer, the bug eye Healey Sprite.

I was fortunate enough to have met Bill then, I complimented him on the place and we talked cars for a while. He passed away maybe ten years after that and I believe his collection was auctioned off. Unfortunately I had already left Jamaica as surely I would have purchased some memento of this special place. Perhaps it would have been the business card board just inside of the entrance to the pub.

Over the years guests of Bill had left their cards there, many of them visitors to the island or expats. I spied the card of the father of a good friend of mine. He was an expat who had worked in Jamaica coincidentally with a distant relative of mine who ran a paving company. He was the engineer engaged to repave the Fern Gully Road into Ocho Rios back in the early 1970's, which I believe stood up for many years and may even still be there.

I don't know whether the house is still there, it would be a shame if it wasn't. It would be great if others could share their memories of this lost piece of Jamaica.

Comments for Bill Lauries Steakhouse Mandeville

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No Disrespect.
by: Chris

Andrea,
Neither Andrew, the author of this article on the Steakhouse, nor this website, intend any disrespect to you, your mother or your family in any way.
We can and have only written what we know on a place that we all loved.
And as frequent vistors to Bill Laurie's Steakhouse over many years your father was the person we came to know most of all, to a great extent because of his love and our love of old cars.
Thank you so much for enlightening us as to the part your mother played.

Back bone of Bill Laurie's steak house
by: Andrea Laurie

Thanks for keeping my parents pride and joy alive ... Although the restaurant was called Bill Laurie's Steak House, my mother Enid was the back bone of the restaurant.
Some how you for got to mention that both my parents were fully involved ... and I spent a lot of time in the belly and heart of the restaurant, where my mother prepared all the wonderful and delicious foods.
That's where we, the children, would do homework.
Your article yes is true ... you just forgot to mention Bill had a family.
My father, who has been gone now for 26 years and is very missed, would have gotten upset that the woman he loved was disrespected.

Thank you Andrea Laurie

Your Treasure Beach Story
by: Chris

Andrew, I will certainly look forward to your memories of Treasure Beach, as I am sure will the many visitors to Jamaica No Problem.
In case you are confused, there are two different Chris's commenting here. The other, Christine, owns the lovely Two Seasons Guest House in Treasure Beach, also featured on JNP.

Treasure Beach
by: Andrew H

Chris,
Thanks for adding your comments on the house. It was obviously a historic building, but now I know thanks to you that it is the Bloomfield Great House. Jamaica's history is fascinating to me and I will surely look up the history of the house.

When time spares, I will have to add the story of my very first visit to Treasure Beach. Even then, I was well off the beaten track, in an already undiscovered jewel of Jamaica. Hopefully I will have the chance to visit again soon.

Andrew

Come back to Treasure Beach
by: Chris

I enjoyed reading your post on Bill Lauries Steakhouse.
When next you visit Jamaica and Treasure Beach, do come and stay with us at Two Seasons Guest House which offers you a warm welcome and cool runnings in a quiet neighbourhood atmosphere.
Enjoy our private pool,free Internet access, expansive grounds and entertainment area with stereo and dvd players and board games. We are 10-25 minutes walk from beaches, restaurants and bars and about 2 kilometres from the Treasure Beach Sports Park.
Use Two Seasons Guest House as your base to explore Jamaica's south coast or just to relax and rejuvenate your spirit.

Christine.

Great Memories
by: Chris

Thanks Andrew, this brought back lots of good memories. I remember Bill and his cars and artifacts well, and this was one of my favourite places. The house is still there and still a restaurant, and is now known by it's original name "The Bloomfield Great House".

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