It’s 10 years and out for Janet Kleiner and Joe Guarise. They’ll be closing their Cruz Bay beach-side trattoria at Wharfside on August 17th. Their moderately-priced restaurant’s menu included inventive Bellinis to start, excellent pasta and hot Italian sausages (my favorite), linguine and clams for an entree, and a Cioccolato Panino for Dolci.
They are not leaving happily. They arrived in late 1997 from Chicago, full of energy and optimism. But developments like Sirenusa, Grande Bay, multi-million dollar villas, rising rents, a demanding
landlord and other changes have been troubling. "It’s still beautiful, but I’d rather leave and remember it as it was," Kleiner explained.
She talked about her experience in a forthright, even controversial, interview. To listen, click the "Play" button below.
You can also download or hear the conversation by clicking here.
When Kleiner opened the business, after years of cooking in restaurants in
Chicago, the island was recovering from Hurricane Marilyn in
1995. "We were right at the perfect time (for the rebirth).
Sometimes I wish we’d gotten here in ’77 or ’87 when St. John really
was much more innocent … was a beautiful place and everything was
Kleiner and Guarise have been live in an apartment on the second floor
of Wharfside, "so it’s only been a 20-second commute." But it also
means she’s never away from business, and always on call. "I work every
day on the beach, but that’s the only beach I see."
Kleiner and her husband will go back to Illinois, where they have a
house north of the city. "You know, they say that when one door closes
another opens. I know that, but I’m still working my way through the
emotional part of closing. "It breaks my heart to leave," she said.