Celebrating a Belizean Landmark Through Art
Downtown Belize City is a milieu of old and new buildings and is celebrated for its historic significance. But there is one particular location that is as important to residents of the Old Capital as it is to visitors who journey to Belize every so often for vacation. That place is Dit’s Restaurant. It’s been a fixture on King Street since the late fifties and stands as one of the few remaining black-owned businesses in the downtown area. The Craig family which is in its third generation of managing the restaurant has commissioned a painting to honor the history of Dit’s. On Monday, News Five’s Isani Cayetano caught up with Rhondine Craig and artist Alex Sanker as the finishing touches were being applied to a painting of the landmark building.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
Belize City is dotted all over with landmarks, many of which place its rich culture and history into a broader social context. King Street, for instance, was once synonymous with three iconic businesses, two of them are now defunct, leaving Dit’s Restaurant, a famous downtown eatery, to remind visitors of its former glory.
Rhondine Craig, Manager, Dit’s Restaurant
“Now we’re in our third generation. It started off with my grandfather and my grandmother, Donald and Edna Craig, and also his sister Aunt Dit, where the name comes from. Growing up, Dit’s is all I’ve known, you know, and for a lot of people it has become a landmark. People that went to the States and come back are so surprised when they still see our doors open. So that’s what brought about the slogan: “A piece of Belizean nostalgia” because it just brings every that comes back visiting Belize or even people that live here, they still can’t believe that we’re still operating.”
And to memorialize that sentimental recollection, a work of art has been commissioned by the Craig family which will endure as a symbolic passing of the torch to its third generation. Well-known Belizean painter Alex Sanker stands before the easel.
Alex Sanker, Belizean Painter
“What I’m doing since this year started is trying to capture what we would call a slice of Belize, right, in my term. Because at the end of the day when you talk about an institution like, because this is an institution, Dit’s [Restaurant]… That’s why the original name for this is Passing the Baton. If you notice, she has a baton in her hand because what I was trying to capture is just trying to promote our legacy, stuff that make Belize. If you could notice this painting says so much because it has actually beome a collage basically, like a mural, giving back. Like wahn tribute to dehn although get paid to do this or whatever, when the family called me in and be like, “Alex, you da di right person fi dis” and ah seh, “You know what, of course I am.” So I always try and do this not for the pay check but to give back to we, the community and society and Belize in general.”
“So what is this piece particularly depicting?”
“What it’s depicting my brother is, at the end of the day let’s deal with facts, this restaurant has been around since the fifties. It’s also, it’s a family owned and family run. That’s very important because a lot of things now di happen weh people di buy business and have Belizeans run it as the front, that’s just reality. But this is family owned and family run, so just the title as I look upon that, I say let me represent them to the fullest because they have given so much to Belize.”
The management of the restaurant has at times been difficult for Rhondine Craig whom the proverbial baton has been passed on to.
“At some points it’s been challenging. At other times, you know, it’s been a proud feeling to know I’m a part of something so big, you know, and that my daughter has an opportunity to be a part of it as well and my niece.”
Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.
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