Fridays and Saturdays just got a little more exciting this year in the Palauli District of Savai’i since the opening of Elisara’s Bar in Salailua.
Last year, Itulagi Elisara and her family were contemplating opening up a tyre repair station on their land until a family member opened one across the road from them ruling that option out.
Deciding to do something different and interesting, Mrs. Elisara and her two adult children chose a path not often travelled in the most relaxing yet traditional of the two major islands of Samoa. They decided to open up a bar, which would bring up the tally of private pubs in Savai’i to two in total.
“The whole village supported us,” said Mrs. Elisara. “We built this place last year in November because I wanted to make something different to anything on this side of the island. The other option was to open up a shop in this spot but because it’s far away from the village and quite isolated, it’s not ideal to open a shop here because you’ll have to stay there all day and all night. So we thought, let’s open up a bar because we only have to be open after work just a few days a week.”
One of the reasons the bar opening was supported by the village was because of the bar’s distance from the denser residential areas and Mrs. Elisara said having a buffer there meant that they didn’t disturb any families who were resting at night.
The Elisara family commenced building in November not thinking to open it until 2018 but according to Mrs. Elisara, their customers were not willing to wait that long.
“Everyone was saying to us, please can you just open now,” she laughs. “People just wanted a place to have a few drinks with friends and have some entertainment so we will still build while people were coming in, so I can’t really pinpoint the time we officially opened.”
Since developing the opening date, Mrs. Elisara says initially they were opened only on Friday and Saturday, but due to public demand, they extended their opening hours to include Thursday evening.
“The public practically forced us to open on a Thursday,” she laughs. “And we may open more if they continue making requests to us. We always make barbecue during the day into the evening for the people at the bar. If we have a dance, we can have more than 200 or 300 people in there.
“We mainly have locals but some nights we do get in some tourists who are staying at Satuiatua Beach Resort. We always get together with the owners and they always bring their guests to our bar so it’s really nice.”
Having never run a bar and entertainment establishment before, Mrs. Elisara who is a practicing nurse at the local hospital says it has been an interesting experience so far but that they are enjoying being in this new industry.
“I’m a nurse and my son and daughter who went into business with me are also nurses at Sataua hospital and Tuasivi hospital. It’s been very interesting running this kind of business. Since the beginning, we didn’t earn a lot of money because it depended on the amount of people who turned up. There are weeks when we can earn more than $2000 tala and then when there are not that many people than it’s roughly $800 tala.”
Having three nurses on shift during the bars opening hours comes in handy if any medical emergencies arise and the Samoa Observer asked Mrs. Elisara about the kind of security her bar establishment has for those extra rowdy customers. Without blinking an eye, she tells us that she has the best bouncers in the village.
“We asked some Matai of the village to come over and watch over their own people. Everyone is aware of those Matais. There are four or five of them and they are all responsible for looking after them especially the youth. And if someone does anything stupid on Monday it will be dealt with,” she smiles.
Mrs. Elisara said they have saved up enough money to build an extension to the outside deck to cater to bigger numbers as the word gets out about their bar and entertainment on a remote side of the big island.
“This week, we will extend the front. Sometimes there are many people and we need more space for the dance floor. We are enjoying this time with our new venture and it’s hard to say no to our customers. On Thursdays and Fridays we are flexible with our customers’ requests and we can close at 1am but come Saturday we definitely close at midnight for Sunday.”