I've been visiting St. Croix since the late 70's and 80's. Before Hugo, I remember the island as a bustling place with lots of fun. It's still a great place to come.
We are hands-on restaurant owners from Annapolis, Maryland who have often "threatened" ourselves to come down and try to start a Cruzan location of our very busy breakfast/lunch place.
Any thoughts on what's needed or missing here in terms of an eatery?
Duncan! WAIT, stop, hold the presses.... We can always use a good restaurant over here in STT too.... hehe We need a Thai food joint over here....or a great BBQ joint.... or a MEXICAN food place would make a ton of cash over here (since we don't have one). I know, I know, you were't looking over at St Thomas, so if you know friends who want the "island life" and who want to start a restaurant, then send them here when you go over to the big island.
The problem with service is that many restaurants don't utilize bus boys or assistant waiters and the waiters tend to be spread over many tables. Need to control costs somehow. Consequently I doubt if many restaurants even get 1 1/2 turns on their tables on a busy evening.
Before opening a restaurant in the USVI you need to factor in the high cost of food and electricity at $0.50 Kwh. Restaurants on STX were struggling with electricity at $0.42 kwh. At the now current rate of $0.50 more are going to fold. When you are paying $3,000 - $4,000 a month for electricity its tough to cover your overhead. There is a limit to what you can get customers to pay as they are facing the same economic problems.
Island Time VS Bad Service
Here it is a slower pace, however service should be there!!! You want your guest to feel relaxed & soak up the cool breezes & smells of the island. A good server is friendly welcoming you and suggests a great starter drink to set the mood. The drinks comes quickly and they are told about the specials as they are given the menus (the server should also know the food & make suggestions...............I was at a place once who I will not name, but they serve beef.....I asked the server about a dish & she was very dingy & said she was a vegan........... :-X d
At this point the meal should be brought out slowly & relaxed w/constant attention the to guest...........keep the refills coming!!!!!
It should be fun & a place people want to eat & meet w/friends. But thats just MHO.....
And yeah a really good Mexican/Seafood would rock!
Its not just the lack of busboys. Most restaurants do not train waiters to become waiters like they do stateside. So you have people who have never waited tables before and were not trained training new waiters. And I know those of you who have never waited tables think its not rocket science but its not common sense for most people as service on the island will show. If they would train these waiter their business and waiters would both make more money.
There are not many waiters here that seem to understand the basic rules, great table within one minute, take drink orders and try to sell an appetizers, bring drinks back within 2 min and get food order, deliver food ask if they need anything and come back withing 1 to 2 minutes to make sure everything is ok, keep drinks refilled, and always always check every table (at least visably) as you walk through your station and see if they need anything.
Waiters here can't seem to focus on more then one table at a time. Instead of picking up a check to get change for and asking a different table if their food is alright and a third table if they would like another margarita, you will see said waiter go back and forth three separate times instead of doing it all in one trip.
Any slightly experience waiter should easily be able to handle 5 tables and bus themselves. Assuming the Manager on Duty/Owner is helping as needed when the restr is busy and not sitting at the bar drinking, which is what is usually happing. The other problem is sometimes you will only have 2 waiters for twenty tables and thats just not fair to the customer or the waiter.
Thanks Juanita, its one of those pet peeves of mine of island living. Its the one about not checking ALL your tables as you go back and forth to the bar/kitchen that makes me so crazy. Watching these waiters run like crazy when they don't have seems well crazy and the customers suffer.
Wow, I've learned more about good service than I would have ever imagined... OK, now I'm virtually (unfortunately, only virtually) spoiled!
Anyway, I ran into some folks, here in Virginia, that got married on STX... it must have been about 20 years ago. They said that the Annapolis Sailing School (not a restaurant, but in the Annapolis theme) was there, and .... also a ChartHouse. Now, I don't know about you folks, but the Chart House chain is one of my all time favorite restaurants (although I find the one in Baltimore, and the one in Alexandria a bit too stuffy/snooty for my likes). Anyway, always great views, always great architecture, always great ambiance, well trained staff (maybe even by Betty's and Islandtyme's standards) and very good food, which of course could include Md Blue Crabs. I'd also vote for a Clyde's or Legal Seafood style.
And on the more casual side, I've fallen in love with Panera... I know, it's just a soup/salad/sandwich chain... but I find myself there many times a week for a nice, healthy, lite meal... and they donate to local homeless and other community orgs ($25 for every high school LaCrosse goal!). BTW, one of the huge draws to me is that you can sit outside with each of these restaurants (not so much the Chart House though).
I also make my own smoothies every morn, but really enjoy Robek's, Tropical Smoothie or Jamba Juice as an alternative when I travel.
What also must be remember is any restaurant should appeal to the local culture as well, not just transplants. We make up a very small portion of the population and stx does not have the tourism stt. Hopefully with cruise ships coming back it will help. But I think any new business should focus on the local population and never loose sight of them even/if tourism gets better.
A very good example of this is what happen to Mile mark after the cruise ships pulled out and what happend to big beards/centipedes. Mile mark lost most of their boats and big beards has expanded.
I appreciate you comments and agree completely. I thought I might be out of touch with things here (STX) but good service is good service everywhere.
Another post mentioned The Chart House. I remember those days! It was the corner space on the boardwalk. I don't think that space has been occupied since has it? Back then Tivoli and Commanche were always busy, cruise ships came to Christainsted as well as Fredericksted. We've loved the island ever since.
We're facing those same increases in Maryland. I have been able to find other sources of electrical power at lower rates. Do you see that here?
Seems to me that an owner needs to jump in and do whatever necessary to get that 1 1/2 turns. Can't imagine just sitting there and watching it all fall apart. Do you think those instances are the product of inexperience or too much disposable income to worry about it?
What always amazes me are the restaurants that spend zillions on the physical layout & the food is horrendous from day one. I've never understood that owners sometimes just aren't into food or even know what tastes good. Many come down here & get so laid back they're nearly falling over & they get complacent & lazy. Some drink too much.