It stunned Saint James when, seemingly with no warning, fire broke out inside Smokey and Bunty bar at around five o’clock in the evening, April 29th, 2015.
Extensive videos and photographs were shared on social media websites, as the flames worked their way from the kitchen of Lanyap; a tenant of Smokey and Bunty which shared the same building, through the ceiling and into the upper floor of the establishment. While much of the building was ravaged however, it turned out that the main barroom of Smokey and Bunty, as well as the main structure of the building, seemed spared.
On Friday, May 1st, 2015, the owner of Smokey and Bunty; Ronaldo ‘Bunty’ Munro, along with his son; Jesus Munro, a few staff, a few friends and a few loyal customers, all gathered in the street light and the bar’s ashes, to drink, chat, relax and consider the future. One especially loyal customer known as ‘Baldhead’, was very knowledgeable of the history of the bar, and coined the phrase, “Smokey and Bunty burn down? We limin’ in the ashes!” As he described, in the two nights since the fire, they’d all returned to the spot, partly to socialise, but also to clean up and survey the damage.
According to Baldhead, whose real name is ‘Anthony’, Smokey and Bunty as a business had existed for about fifty-two years to the date of this incident, and was the oldest existing bar in Trinidad, founded by Ricardo ‘Smokey’ McKenzie and Ronaldo ‘Bunty’ Munro. Originally located at the Queen’s Park Savannah, the establishment moved to Saint James around 1989, and had quickly grown into a mainstay of Saint James nightlife. Celebrities, both local and international, had visited the bar, including popular cricketers, footballers, and other sports people, actors, entertainers, dancers and artists. Sadly in 2010, due to apparent medical errors while being treated for cancer, Smokey died from radiation overdoses. Bunty and his sons maintained the bar, however, and kept the business running until the fire.
Even though they limed in the dark because current was switched off, the mood of everyone present on Smokey and Bunty’s pavement, seemed optimistic. So long as the legal formalities are sorted out, the bar will be repaired and will continue to be a part of Trinidad’s ongoing history, nightlife and culture.
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