By Theresa Goodwin
A committed businessman who spent most of his life working hard in every capacity to provide a better life for his family, is how relatives are remembering Tenniel Miller, former proprietor of the popular Millers by the Sea restaurant at Fort James.
In addition to building a name for himself, he also worked to ensure that others in the business world, entertainment industry and his community achieved similar success.
The 70-year-old Antiguan businessman and beloved father died on Tuesday morning in the United States after a prolonged illness.
His wife, Frances-Ann Mellanson-Miller, said he was a very ambitious person who always looked for an opportunity to build his skills in any field. She told Observer that he was a very “giving person” who went out of the way to provide for others around him.
“He was very kind. He has always given back to his community and the less fortunate right up until the time he got ill in 2010 and had to relocate to the US for medical care,” she said.
Teon Miller, the youngest of the deceased’s seven children, said his father had a way of making people feel loved and wanted, regardless of his relationship with them.
He also explained that the elder Miller had that same effect on his employees, many of whom have worked for the company for several years.
Asked how he would want his father to be remembered, Teon replied, “as a family man and an astute businessman who loved his country and his family, and a mentor to a lot of people within the hospitality industry”.
He added, “He also had a firmness about himself and was very composed. If you had a disagreement with him, he would never hold it against you, but would rather talk with you to work it out.”
Meanwhile, reflecting on his life and career, Miller’s wife explained that her husband started his professional career working at Horizon Hotel, before eventually departing Antigua and Barbuda for St Croix where he continued work in the hospitality industry.
In the early 1970s, he migrated to New York where he spent most of his life in the same field. Not wanting to stop there, he later opened an underground nightclub in the Bronx called “The Den”, which attracted a lot of West Indian clientele.
Miller also managed a second business in New York which was later closed, along with several other similar underground bars and nightclubs due to a fire in the Bronx in which more than 75 people died. The fire brought an abrupt end to a thriving underground nightlife.
“After the fire, he got an opportunity to take over King Short Shirt’s Beach Bar in Antigua which was named Millers by the Sea. The restaurant was destroyed due to the passage of Hurricane Luis in 1995,” Mellanson-Miller said.
The passage of the hurricane did not stop the vibrant entrepreneur who was destined for success.
With the assistance of Antigua and Barbuda’s first Premier, Prime Minister and National Hero, Sir Vere Cornwall Bird Snr, Miller later acquired lands at the historic Fort James Beach. This paved the way for the establishment of Millers by the Sea, a premier entertainment spot on the island, which was also branded as the entertainment capital of Antigua.