Touya Deina Leones
Touya Deina Leones “Bidu” – Life At The Beach
Throughout Haiti, Bidu’s restaurant in Port Salut is known for its incredible lobster. Located just 45 minutes from the Hope for Haiti office in Les Cayes, the restaurant has been a favorite weekend getaway for the past five years.
Born Touya Deina Leones, “Bidu” started his restaurant as an independent smallbusiness. Growing up on a small farm, Bidu learned business from his mother—who sold fried snacks and homemade coffee in the local market. Entrepreneurship was a value he learned at a young age. “When I was a kid, I knew I would want to help my mother when I grew older. I thought I would become a fisherman and catch crabs for my mom to sell.”
Instead, the family home became the site of Bidu’s first business venture.
“I started a small restaurant out of our kitchen when I was young. Then, I moved to the beach and worked as an apprentice at the established restaurants. I prepared the spices, the oil, the water… I learned all the basics.” After years of training, Bidu decided to open his own restaurant independently. “For me, travay se liberte –work is liberty. I found Soco, our chef, and started the business.”
Business has grown tremendously and now features chicken, lambi (conch,) lobster in sauce, grilled lobster, and salted fish. As the popular site of Hope for Haiti’s staff gatherings, celebrating the accomplishments of our team of medical staff, community health workers, and program officers, Bidu’s personal attention to detail always makes an event successful. “The most difficult part of my job is when a big group of clients order a bunch of different items. You have to manage cooking times, make sure all the orders are right, and make sure they all come out at the same time.
I’m especially proud of our hospitality. We are always respectful and thankful to our clients and try to add what they want to the menu.” Bidu and Soco most recently added rum sour drinks, using Haiti’s famous Barbancourt rum. “I’m proud that my restaurant is Haitian and serves Haitian delicacies. You have to know how to make the best meals the right way!”
Bidu’s love for his country shines through in every conversation with visitors. The lifetime resident of Port Salut believes in the opportunity of tourism. “Here in Haiti, we have a lot of freedom. Port Salut has pristine beaches, delicious lobster, dancing to the local ‘Ra-Ra’ bands, beautiful waterfalls, nice little markets, and good hotels. Life here is secure and tranquil.”
When he’s not at the beach chatting with customers, Bidu is at home with his wife and three children. “My work enables me to provide for my family. I want my kids to be happy and do well in school, so they have freedom to do what I couldn’t. They could become doctors, nurses, and engineers, whatever they want.” Through education, Bidu hopes for his country’s improvement overall. The Port Salut beach area was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy, a threat to Bidu and his family’s livelihood. “Everywhere should have roads, electricity, and water. I don’t need riches; I need a comfortable life. I don’t need a car; I need healthy kids.” From all of us in the Hope for Haiti family, we invite you to dine chez Bidu and visit us at beautiful Port Salut!.