See You at Five (the Eatery)

Trinidad’s often blasé dining scene has received a much needed, fresh injection—of talent, taste, and innovation—in the form of Five the Eatery, the newest, trendiest kid on the block.

The quirky bistro-style Maraval outpost boasts no gimmicks. You won’t find rainbow bagels or diabetes-ridden franken-shakes on this menu. Instead, the eatery lists bona fide, belly-warming comfort food that syncs local staples with a multi-ethnic attitude.

Faithfully Caribbean ingredients like plantain and avocado sit side by side with heady Thai lemongrass, spicy Spanish chorizo, and tangy North-African shakshuka. The effect is explosive, and a welcome respite from a culinary collective mired with one (or ten) too many Chinese and Italian restaurants.

The uncharacteristically playful menu is a result of both guidance from a number of consultants and co-founder Daynah Buxo, and her sisters’ metropolitan inclinations. For Buxo, who studied Business and Hospitality at George Brown College in Toronto, this is her first foray into the food world, but it’s the support from her team, family, and her own love of food that’s held Five together from the very first day.

Named after a compendium of fives—the five senses, five star meals, the five locations they intend to have, but most importantly, the five women at the helm of the operation—the eatery is a female-focused family affair.

At its wheel is 26-year-old Buxo, whose decade-plus stint in Toronto helped shape the family’s vision for the space. “We engineered it backwards. First, we fell in love with the space, then we decided what we wanted to do with it. It was always going to be food, but the tricky part was figuring out what kind. Ultimately, we realised there was this huge gap for places that offered gourmet comfort food with a healthy twist, and so Five was born.”

Bucking the “lazy millennial” narrative, and supported by her three siblings, mom, and dad, Buxo began an 11-month long initiative to bring Five to life. “It was a learning curve, but we had a great team of family and friends who helped us through it all,” she added.

When its glassy doors opened in November 2018, it didn’t take long for the eatery to lure in a steady following of adventurous Gen Y and Z-ers eager to sample the goods. They came, they ate, they Instagrammed.

Today, the enamoured come from as far as deep south to indulge on a weekend, praising the brand’s commitment to delicious, locally sourced food that’s vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore-friendly. Their chilled grab-and-go section has also earned plaudits, with an expertly curated selection of small, local Trini businesses that peddle everything from drunken desserts to finger-foods and soups that patrons can opt to eat in-house. But perhaps their greatest accommodation (at least for the more health-inclined) is a range of trainer-approved meals available on request, a tip of the hat to their relationship with international fitness franchise, Gold’s Gym, which resides upstairs.

They came, they ate, they Instagrammed.

The overwhelming response has not been without a price: hard work. The family had to double down and do it fast, shouldering the gamut of food and beverage operations—from front-of-house customer service to marketing and mise-en-place—as a team.

“Sure, we have our disagreements, like any family, but at the end of the day, it’s good to know that there are people who have your back, and who better to do that than family?” says Buxo.

Finding the right staff to carry on the Five brand has been one of their main challenges. Up until last month, Buxo and her sister-in-command Brittany moonlighted as hostesses and staff, while the rest of the family routinely chips in for shifts.

These days, the impassioned duo have made their way to the back, learning knife skills and traditional culinary techniques, all in a bid to expand their culinary acumen. It’s a labour of love, and it shows. From the staff’s friendly demeanour to the cosy intimate space to their chic B&W branding, everything about the eatery radiates true Trini warmth. It’s a breath of fresh air in a rather frigid service industry, and boy, are we here for it!

Five the Eatery is located at 35-36 Saddle Road, Maraval, and are open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. Find out more information through their website, on Instagram, Facebook or by calling (868) 236-4806.