HELP, Wedding and move in Oct.
My sweetheart and I are coming to stx for 12 days at the end of March/beginning of April. This will be our third visit, staying at the Cottages by the Sea, just south of Fred. We will be planning an October wedding, also to take place at Cottages, and then will be staying on the island for good.
I have quite a few questions:
1). We are searching for an existing bar/restaurant to take over and have found many leaseholds available.
the Sunset Grille, Off the Wall bar and grille, Changes in L'Attitude, Matojo's Stable, Smuggler's Cove.. All of these have either been listed with realtor's or have been mentioned as available at one time or another. Matojo's seems to be the most reasonably priced, primarily because of its location, I suppose. Any information on these establishments would be GREATLY appreciated. Also any information about jobs as a bartender or bar manager or related position would be nice. I've been a bartender/bar manager for 20 years and would like to have a "working" retirement in the islands doing what I love to do, and if we can't immediately find a place to buy, I have no problem working in someone else's bar/restaurant.
2). If we have not found a bar, preferably with living quarters, to purchase by our arrival in October, we will need a long term rental when we arrive. We love the West End and prefer that area.
3). Can we eventually find a nice home in a decent area for under 200k? A small, simple one bedroom place would be room enough.
4). I ride a Harley, and have seen some posts regarding NOT bringing it with me. I can't leave it home, I love riding it too much. Which shipping company would best handle bringing it and the few other items we may be moving with us IE our bedroom furniture, small dining room set, desks and bookcases and books.
5). Speaking of books, I love them. Don't read as much as I should, but have a library of a few hundred books. Is the tropical, salt air bad for them? Will they last on island, or should I leave them to my kids to start their own library's.
Sorry this has been such a long query, but we're very excited about our upcoming vacation, planning our wedding and then moving in the fall. Any helpful advice will surely be appreciated.
In regards to books... they will last, but you have to be careful. Don't store them in boxes, keep them as dry as possible. The only books I have "lost" in the last year and a half were he ones that I had in boxes that had gotten wet. However, if you aren't reading them, I would leave them to the kids. No sense in paying a lot of extra money to ship stuff you aren't going to use, especially with the cost of shipping everything else.
Talk to Alexandra about the house. She is great.. we talked to her quite a bit before we moved down here, thinking we might want to buy. We ended up not buying, due to financial reasons, but she was very open to our price range, didn't make us feel (As two other realtors did) that we were lowlifes for having such a low price range and definitely knew her stuff.
I have a friend on island wtih a Harley. Just keep to the main roads and you will be fine. The Melvin, the Queen Mary, even Northside will get you from one end of the island to another without having to worry about extremely bad roads.
Changes in L'attitude is now Coconuts and is run by Teresa and Rick.
I love the west end, too. Hopefully somoene else can answer your other questions. 🙂
The main concern for those with Harleys is how to keep them from deteriorating quickly in our salt air environment. My husband brough this fatboy with him when he first moved to STX and wound up selling it in less than a year because it was rusting faster than he could polish. If you can find a place with a garage or another way to keep it a bit less exposed when it's not in use, that might help. Rinse it daily!
There are some nice houses on the market now and then in your price range. You will never have a LOT of properties to see at any one time. You don't find mansions at that price or ocean front property, but you can find a livable home if you are patient and ready to jump on the right one when it comes along.
For restaurants/bars... many of them come on the market with distressing regularity. There are bound to be a few on offer when your time to look arrives. There are also places who regularly seek good bartenders. The resorts also are happy to hear from bartenders with professional history in managing a bar and a staff. Talk to some people who hang out in the vicinity of any bar you might be interested in working at and you will hear the history of the place and the general consensus opinion about what does and doesn't work and why. Some of it is good info and the owners should listen!
I understand why you like the west end. I live there myself. There are bars and homes to suit your needs available in the west end. You might want to check out some of the bars further east, however, because they often have more business and that adds up to more tips.
Best wishes for your wedding and relocation plans. I was married on the beach at Carambola resort last May. That makes for a fun venue for such a memorable occasion.
I just have a word or two about books. I had a lot of books for the two years I spent on island. The ones I had in my main living area were fine, but I found that I would more or less just buy a paperback book to read outdoors and didn't read the ones on the shelf. I suggest leaving them behind and just bringing ones you read over and over. Secondly, I had some great cookbooks in my kitchen in a cupboard. When we were moving, we had found that some sneaky termites had destroyed the insides of the books. It was weird. The binders and covers were untouched, but the insides turned to dust. At the bottom of the stack were my Southern Living Mags that I saved for all the good recipes. They were hosting live termites. It was a mess and disapppointing. We had lived in that home one year and they destroyed all the cookbooks, mags, and boxes holding my crystal. I would check my books in the living room, but didn't think about the kitchen. Sigh. Lesson learned. A few of my large books did have some slight warping on the bindings as they were stacked on their sides, but had I used those books more often, I think I would have noticed and kept them from getting damaged.
Good luck to you and your books. Amazon.com does deliver to the islands so if you can't find a book... I also suggest subscriptions to magazines as they are almost double the price on island, but the subscription is the same as stateside.
We moved here in November and I bought about 800 books with me. All my book are on wooden shelves that my husband built for me. We moved them in a container with our household goods so the expense was just in shipping the container. Our house is an open house exposed to the salt air and dust. I have not noticed any bugs or termites and they seem to be holding up very well. Since the breeze is always blowing through our house there doesn't seem to be a problem with humidity. I use an air duster every once in a while. We live on the east end where it is dryer. I haven't lived here long enough to know if there are more humid months like August in Virginia where you feel like you are breathing water. LOL Good luck with your wedding and move. I love the West end as well but we were steered to the east not knowing any better.
I don'tthink the issue is safety, so much as it is the limitations that a fairly small island provides. There are severasl ides that are satisfying to take and enjoyable, but how many times are you going to want to ride the north shore road?? Alexandra's point about the salt air creeping into the many piecesof exposed metal on a bike is a good one, and on top of that, maintenance / repair options are limited. There are no dealerships on St. Croix, parts must be ordered, etc. The hassle invovled takes some of the enjoyment out of ownership of a really nice bike. I might suggest treating the situation as others have suggested with a car. DOn't bring a real nice piece of machinery, rather get yourself a the equivalent of a beater and bring here just to ride arund the island. SOmething like a mid - 80's Japanese mid size bike.
Thank you all for the input. I'm bouncing back and forth about the bike. If I bring it with me, I have to clear it with my C.U. as I'm still making payments...if I sell it, there's an extra few thousand in my pocket...decisions decisions!!!
As far as a bar goes, though, tell me this, are they social gathering places such as they are here, in Pittsburgh? Do people go out to the local tavern for a beer, glass of wine or a nice cocktail and to have some good conversation? Or, because of the less stringent liquor laws, do more people just drink at home, or buy their own and party outdoors?
Also, anyone with knowledge about a bar called Matojo's Stable on Centerline Road near Whim, I'd greatly appreciate some information about it.
And thanks again for all the input from you nice people. This site is a nice place to visit, almost as nice as STX itself!! Okay, so maybe thats an exaggeration!!!
I wouldn't recommend that anyone open a bar in whim or live there, that is not a safe neighborhood at all. There are local gathering places but as alexandra mentioned the more popular ones are center island or east end. The locals do not go out to eat or party as much as the transplants and tourist do. If you open a restaurant or bar on the west end you will need to offer something really excellent and different from what is already there to draw people in. You will also need enough capital to stay afloat for the time it takes people to know you are there(6 months to a year at least). People that live center island or on the east end are notorious for rarely going to the west end because of the drive time and the crime. They may come out once or twice from the east end as a novelty but what can you offer to get them to drive all the way out there again. And this is not an exaggeration, there are so many people who do not go the west end (that live here permanently) because of the drive. Town and east already have alot to offer so you will be competing with that. So you will definitely have a much smaller pool of customers if you pick the west end and an incredible small pool if you choose whim.
I would buy a house as you are thinking about as the market is slow right now and you may be able to get a good deal. Work here at least 6 months and get a feel for the island and what is need here bar wise and then make your move. Even with all your experience you will definitely find that things work different here and their are different challenges to over come here.
You are absolutely correct Linda. When I lived on the west I didn't go east much either 🙂 And before anyone thinks I dont like the west end I do. It is absolutely much prettier, lush, great beaches and incredible sunsets. I just feel there is much more opportunity for a business in center island or east end for the reasons i mentioned above. Its hard enough to make it here just as a transplant but opening a business here is a nightmare. The restaurants here turn over much faster then stateside. Even if they don't say their for sale on the mls, chances are the owner would sale. From much higher food costs, very poor produce, labor that shows up when they want and will often drink on the job, stealing. Opening a restaurant here is in no way slowing down your life. It will be and all day all night kind of job.
yep everyone is amazed when they first come that it is, especially when alot of us come from places where we did a 45 minute commute. lol wait that is my commute to the west end....45 minutes...more if there are alot of tourists or older winter residents on the road 😉 It may be a small island but the roads are windy and there is no direct path to anything. And the one so called freeway has stop lights and more speed changes then any small texas town I've ever been through.
apart from some Stateside transplants who live on the West End, the East:West "thing is a racial and monetary" divide. Our richest and "whitest"i nhabitants live East and our poorest and local inhabitants live West, with the blue collar middle class of all colors splotched up in the middle.
A huge simplification, but gives you the picture.
Whim unfortunately tends to be drugs, crime and poverty.
going south of the 4-lane highway at the west end is like "crossing the tracks" in other places. The south shore waterfront neighborhoods don't have the same poverty stricken or crime-ridden tendencies as some of the inland neighborhoods unfortunately do. Some of the hillside neighborhoods are also more upscale.
Jane - you can take the girl off the island but you can't take the island out of the girl. It does make me smile to see you so clearly still identifying with the island... as in "OUR richest and whitest..." not "the island's richest and whitest..."
It does get under your skin even if it drives you crazy in some ways, doesn't it?
So many people live on the west end because I think it does mean just that to them joe. I lived west center and east, they all have their pluses and minus. And without a doubt there are working class in ALL of them. These are all simplications (not that there isn't some truth to them). Come here and find out for yourself what you like the best. I actually prefer center but found the best all around deal on the east end. Sometimes things are just fated.
Well, so far in response to my questions, I have formulated the following thoughts:
As much as I love my Harley, it may be best to leave it behind. I see no good coming out of having to watch it slowly (or quickly for that matter) rust away from the salt air.
Same with the books. I love being surrounded by nice volumes, but I don't read as much as I'd like. If my kids want them, good, if not, maybe I'll bring them along.
Buying a bar may have to wait until after we're on island for a while and get a better feel for the business climate.
Buying a house, especially in the price range we're looking, would be great. If it also has rental space with it, all the better.
Thanks to everyone for all the input, I'll be in touch.