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Tavern on the Waterfront - Review

Posts: 2
New Member
Topic starter

To all of the local expertise,
I am looking at the possibility of purchasing Tavern on the Waterfront; and would appreciate some local feedback. I realize the tourist traffic; however, would like to know what the residents of St Thomas think,and would want in a restaurant.

Is the restaurant popular with local residents? (Why/Why not)
If you could change/add something to the restaurant, what would it be?
Is there a type of food that is not readily available that you would like to see in St Thomas?
Would St Thomas residents benefit by adding the availability of Breakfast?
Any other feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance,

Posted : April 11, 2018 12:54 pm
Posts: 3554
Famed Member

Not many St Thomas residents participate on this forum so you might not get many responses.

I haven't been in over a year, because the last time I went for the lobster lunch special the vegetables had been cooked in too much oil.

The Friday night jazz used to be very popular with locals, but I'll check with my friend who goes out regularly to see if she's noticed a decline.

Parking is always an issue when it comes to locals and town and Tavern on Waterfront doesn't have parking near the entrance.

What I miss is the grab and go prepared dishes they used to offer next door to Tavern similar to the ones at Plaza Extra. People who work in town want something that they can get quickly.

It would be nice to see a place that serves lighter, healthier food with more vegetarian options similar to Urban Eats in Yacht Haven Grande. A fish and chips place similar to Salt and Vinegar in Nisky would do really well, I think.

I have been active on the VI TripAdvisor and CruiseCritic forums, and I don't think I have ever seen Tavern recommended. I'm not on Facebook much but I don't think Tavern posted on the very popular What's Going On St Thomas page.

The taxi drivers and people who work in the stores get asked for restaurant recommendations all day long. You need to make sure they know about you.

Good luck!

Posted : April 12, 2018 8:18 am
Posts: 699
Prominent Member

Tavern has fabiulos Friday night jazz. Very busy. It is a great spot for more mature and jazz friendly crowd. Nice mix of locals and mainlanders. The dinner menu is good. I have never been there for lunch. Parking is always problematic on the waterfront.

Posted : April 12, 2018 6:55 pm
Posts: 349
Reputable Member

To all of the local expertise,
I am looking at the possibility of purchasing Tavern on the Waterfront; and would appreciate some local feedback. I realize the tourist traffic;

The tourism business in still on the rebound after the storms and it is going to take awhile before it comes back to pre-storm levels, that is a HUGE consideration when looking at opening anything downtown with the rent being what it is and potential foot traffic. That location has been a curse for Tavern for years because it is kind of well hidden, that being said with the view that it has if you can get people there with the right menu it does have potential. When it first opened it had a great menu and was very nice on the inside.

Is the restaurant popular with local residents? (Why/Why not)

It has had a off and on following over the years, I don't remember off hand how many owners since the beginning that it has had but it has not remained consistant and that is the stroke of death to any resturant and not just down here.

If you could change/add something to the restaurant, what would it be?

Better menu, fair prices are always a plus , good quality ingredients that are used. Honestly the first thing there that needs to be done is better promotion both for tourists and locals alike. You can have a 5 star establishment but doesn't do any good if no one knows about it. The idea of a gimmick like jazz can work but gimmicks alone are not enough....

Is there a type of food that is not readily available that you would like to see in St Thomas?

As a owner that is a dangerous subject to tackle. Before I moved last fall to STX, there were tons of niche cuisines that I would have like to have seen in STT, the realistic side of me knew having dabbled as a chef that they would never work or last in a restaurant St Thomas. I can't begin to count in the 25+ years I lived in St. Thomas how many mexican restuarants have opened and closed, rough count would be 10+ and that is a more common niche to cater to. One other thing to remember is that exotic foods require exotic ingredients which pre-storm were not easiest to find and can't imagine what it is like now

Would St Thomas residents benefit by adding the availability of Breakfast?

That could be a great location for brunch with the view that it has. If you did delivery downtown and could get in with the salespeople that work main street there is a potential for a lot of repeat business there, delivery to downtown in general if you get the start of a following would work well.

Other advice :

Have equipment checked out before hand to see what sort of condition that it is in if it comes furnished. Equipment is not cheap and you need to know what you are getting into a head of time. KLR is the only local place that sells equipment. In addition make sure that the structure itself is sound, that area got hit pretty good during Irma.

I don't know what your background is but if you aren't doing the food business now goto Amazon and buy a copy of Anthony Bourdain's book Kitchen Confidential and read it front to back. Then go back and read the chapter marked : OWNER'S SYNDROME AND OTHER MEDICAL ANOMALIES until you have it memorized and ask yourself if you are one of those people. Considering industry average is 75% failure in first 6-12 month the price of the book and the time spent reading are well worth it before losing your investment...........

Posted : April 12, 2018 7:03 pm
Posts: 3554
Famed Member

Brunch on Sat and Sun would be good. There are several churches in town and people like to eat out after services. There's a church in Professional Building that worships on Saturday.

One restaurant in town offers curbside pickup. You call in your order and they have someone outside so you can stop and pick up without parking.

There is a restaurant delivery service that delivers from many restaurants. Forgot the name. St Thomas Direct?

The current menu isn't very local friendly imo. Very European. Cabbage rolls. Pierogies. Competition from the Greenhouse is fierce.

Posted : April 13, 2018 12:04 am
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member

Tavern on the Waterfront originally used to be Sparky's Waterfront Saloon. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It had great local and tourist following.
Good menu.Good prices.
Their steak sandwiches, burgers and chilli were the best with great fries, garlic bread, etc. Plus excellent service.
Stick to stuff that sells.
Hook, Line and Sinker had a great menu, with daily specials, welcoming ambiance.
Have something on menu that appeals to meat, fish and vegetarian lovers bit don't go overboard.
You need to target both tourists and locals. You've got a great location right on waterfront for early morning and daytime walking traffic.
Night time parking galore.
Local musicians and dancing after dinner.
Make it safe, clean, affordable with excellent service and consistently good food.
Do you research and see what other restaurants in area offer.

Posted : April 14, 2018 3:24 am
Exit Zero
Posts: 2460
Famed Member

Sparky's was on the ground level and Tavern is upstairs. Very different locations to consider for walk in traffic , and the many ways downtown has changed in the decades since Sparky's existed.
The view from upstairs is much nicer, but accessing a second story restaurant incurs an intimidating barrier to walk in business.
People don't just "pop in" for a drink or a look around for friends, the busy bar scene of days past downtown is quite different too, parking is much more difficult these days and evening bar hopping in town is mostly non-existent compared to the heyday of Sparky's in the 70's and 80's.
Establishing Tavern as a dining destination for local lunch could work if the social comaradie of the atomosphere of L'Escargot or William and Daniels still exists in the business community, a dinner plan will have to include visible security at street level and excellent food and professional service staff.
If the rent is reasonable and the dedication to quality food and service is present in owner operating circumstances the location is fine..
Checking out the existing equipment is paramount as mentioned above.

Posted : April 14, 2018 1:34 pm
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