Anyone who’s walked or driven along West Hill Street probably can’t help but notice the healthy palette of colors on the buildings facing Graycliff Hotel and Restaurant. Paolo and Sharon Gazaroli, a husband and wife duo who are part of the Graycliff family, have undertaken a long-term commitment to revitalize West Hill Street, a main component of the area known as Historic Charles Towne.
The neighborhood includes historically and socially significant sites like Government House, Hillside House, the Greek Orthodox Church, John Watlings, Graycliff Hotel and Restaurant, St. Francis Xavier Cathedral and the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Part of the movement to draw attention and visitors to the area has involved making it more pedestrian friendly with an increased police presence. The Gazarolis’ commitment has led to the development of the Historic Museum, based in Mountbatten House, a former residence dating back to the 1850s, and the Heritage Village Artist Studios.
The studios are based in a former convent dating back to the late 1800s and offer practicing artists and artisans a location in Downtown Nassau to make and sell their works. Now, between the two is The Drawbridge by Graycliff, a café where passersby will soon be able to grab an affordable sandwich, salad or sweet treat while they meander the neighborhood. According to Paolo Gazaroli, the Drawbridge – recognized easily by a shocking blue wall and the actual drawbridge leading into the café’s courtyard – is “one of the pieces to the puzzle for the whole Heritage Village”.
While its full menu isn’t available yet, The Drawbridge is open for business. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday, visitors are invited to enjoy a coffee or refreshing gelato in the café’s courtyard. Chefs Felice Pietrobon and Antonio Dean prepare fresh pastries from original recipes – some of which date back decades through the Gazaroli family. The Drawbridge anticipates a full opening with all the menu offerings, which include vegetarian options and a daily special, within the next two weeks.
Among the café’s current offerings are a selection of chocolate – with more to be found across the street at the Graycliff Chocolatier, pastries and cookies, an array of gelato and Italian ices, coffee, Graycliff memorabilia and locally made jams. And while they welcome the addition of The Drawbridge and are confident it fills a certain niche in Downtown Nassau’s offerings, the Gazarolis’ momentum won’t slow anytime soon.
Next up on the agenda are a spa store, offering spa products and chair massages, and a food and market place. According to Paolo Gazaroli, the market will offer traditional Bahamian favorites, like peanuts, a conch stand, daiquiri stand and local fruit stand. Later on, a winery will join the list of things to do and see in Historic Charles Towne.
It seems fitting that Graycliff would add to its cigar factory and chocolatier, which allow customers to make bespoke cigars and chocolate bars, with a place visitors could blend their own bottles of wine. “The Heritage Village is really meant for the local Bahamian public and also to attract tourists,” explained Paolo Gazaroli. “It’s more of a creating an authentic Bahamian experience that we should be proud of and very much trying to have something that you can showcase.” For more information on The Drawbridge by Graycliff, contact Graycliff at 302-9150.