My New Favorite Spot…

castaways shirtHi everyone, Happy Monday! So we’d like to start the week off by telling all of you about one of our new favorite spots on island. Not only does this spot have inexpensive drinks, but it also has some pretty delicious food – food so delicious that I ate it three days in a row last week. Curious??? Well read on…

Ok, so my new favorite place hands down is Castaways. For those of you unfamiliar with Castaways, it’s kind of a hidden little bar tucked away in downtown Cruz Bay. It’s located just one block from the ferry dock beside Connections and across from Cafe Roma and Cruz Bay Realty. Dan Boudreau took over the place a few years back, and we have to admit, he’s done a pretty good job cleaning it up and making it more appealing to the masses. We really like his staff too.

(Full disclosure: Yes, in the past, Castaways has attracted some “characters” if you will, especially those who liked to congregate on the street outside of its entrance. But the staff at Castaways is actively working to fix that, most notably by adding a hostess station out front during evening hours.)

castaways 1

So back in May, we mentioned how Castaways debuted a new menu. Well we just got around to trying it last week and it was absolutely incredible. And the best part is that everything was super fresh. And not only was the food delicious, but it was some of the most reasonably priced food on island. Check out a few of their dishes…

castaways food 3
Quesadilla
castaways food
Chimi with house salsa
castaways peg legs
Peg legs – Lollipop wings – Six different flavors

In addition to the new food menu, Castaways recently remodeled its upstairs area now dubbed “Clastaways.” The upper area is a bit more upscale and geared more toward young professionals and families. It has a beautiful handcrafted bar, a comfortable lounge area and ample seating.

New upper bar
New upper bar
castaways lounge area
Upper lounge area

Another cool thing about Castaways is that they deliver in Cruz Bay (from Wharfside to Mongoose) seven days a week from 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. They also have free, fast and reliable wifi on site, which is pretty hard to come by in town.

They’re even launching a new happy hour this week, which promises to be pretty sweet. Beginning this Thursday, July 3, Castaways will begin offering a new happy hour daily from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. All Bud, Bud Lights and well drinks will only be $1. Looking for a Corona? That’s only $2 during Happy Hour. And to make it even more exciting, all Smirnoff drinks are only $3 each. Add some food specials to the mix and I think Castaways may soon have the best happy hour on island.

And for all of your sports fans out there, Castaways has a variety of sports packages and a ton of TVs, so it’s the place to be to watch any and every sporting event.

I don’t know about you all, but I’ll definitely be at Castaways’ new Happy Hour this Thursday … I hope to see you all there!


Zozo’s Ristorante is On the Move

Zozos
Photo courtesy of Zozos.net

One of St. John’s most popular fine dining spots will have a new home later this year.

ZoZo’s Ristorante announced Friday that it is leaving its current location at Gallows Point Resort after 13 years. ZoZo’s isn’t going too far, however, as it plans to move just down the road over at Caneel Bay.

ZoZo’s will move into the space currently occupied by the Sugar Mill restaurant. The old 18th century sugar mill will undergo renovations this summer led by ZoZo’s owner John Ferrigno. ZoZo’s will open in its new location on November 1 after Caneel’s annual seasonal closure.

We’re curious – Now that ZoZo’s is leaving Gallows, what would you like to see go into its old spot? 


Price Reduced for Popular Coral Bay Eatery

Donkey Diner

Someone’s dream of buying a restaurant in St. John just got a little cheaper.

The popular Donkey Diner in Coral Bay listed for sale last month when the owners had to abruptly leave the island due to a family medical emergency. The eatery initially listed for $299,000 but after being on the market for less than a month, the owners dropped the price by $60,000. It is currently listed for $239,000 and is described as a “turnkey” operation.

Check out the full listing here.

This is the third time the Donkey Diner has been listed for sale in the past five years.

How to bring home a great shot from St. John

PHOTO St. John has lots of opportunities for snapshots.  But if you want more than a snap, you're going to have to do a little work.  Thankfully, an earlier issue of the St. John Sun Times has done some of that work for you, assisted by Bob Schlesinger of Tropical Focus.

In the article you'll learn when to shoot. Generally, the best time to take great photos is just before around sunset, between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.  That's when the light has a soft and buttery feel.

Read moreHow to bring home a great shot from St. John

Virgin Islands business opportunities

There are some interesting businesses for sale on the island right now, but what if you're an entrepreneur and want to start your own? Forumites at the Virgin-Islands-On-Line.com site have been mulling this question.

Lsugolfer in Baton Rouge said "So, here's what I do when I sit in my cube and think about how crappy this is compared to STJ. Start a gas station or a 'Louisiana'-themed restaurant."

JMhouse said, "Ha ha. I'm in a cubicle, too, listening to someone else have a loud conversation on a speaker phone.  I'd much rather be the Park Ranger that leads the Reef Bay hikes."

Other suggestions people have for new island businesses.

  1. "A storage business where you could leave your snorkel gear/beach chairs, shoes and whatever you don't want to cart back and forth." (Diana2)
  2. "A wind turbine, maybe somewhere on Ajax peak." (Laurie)
  3. "An electric car rental company.  And a self-serve car wash and vacuum area." (Msgcolleen)
  4. "Chicken Removal Service." (StJohnRuth) Details 
  5. "Underwater camera rental. Would have to be a side business. (Not big enough to sustain itself.)" (Jmaq)

Why people bring food to St. John

Twenty years ago, our packing for St. John always included a cooler of food and salty snacks.  

Not because we wanted to save money but, back then, there weren't fully-stocked food stores.  You couldn't be sure you'd be able to buy bread and milk never mind good cuts of beef.  That's changed now, but many people still bring coolers.

In a thread on Trip Advisor, most people said they bring food for convenience, not to avoid restaurants.  

"We dine out, but we visit STJ for relaxing," said Toes_in_the_Sand.  "We find it more relaxing at the end of a day at the beach to sit at the villa, enjoy a couple of drinks while we fix dinner.  No hurry, no parking, no worries."

Poolmom_9 added, "We saved a lot of money (bringing food).  We still ate out plenty.  It was nice to grill (at home)." Cleobeach1 said, "We generally eat out every lunch and dinner, but we have taken a cooler more often than not. We are particular about our meals, especially meats and specialty snacks like cheeses."

What about you?

Historical Society’s book on sale

Book_cover_MEDYears in the making, years in the telling. That's the story behind the St. John Historical Society's new book, St John – Life in Five Quarters. (The Five Quarters refers to the original five administrative districts of the island: Cruz Bay, Maho Bay, Reef bay, Coral Bay, and East End).

The island history is available in the Society's online store for $29.95. The book is described as more than 200 pages of "local stories, pictures, and history … accounts of prominent people and notable places, firsthand descriptions of earlier ways of life on St John, fact-based histories of estate ‘ruins’ we have rambled, and an impressive collection of interesting and beautiful images and photos."

The Society does more than sell books.

Read moreHistorical Society’s book on sale

St. John restaurants, past and present

If yu have been visiting St. John for more than a few years, chances are there are some restaurants you liked then that are gone now.  And if you’re new to the island, and found a favorite eatery, it may not be there a few years from now.

Plus ca change.

If that's the case, your fave goes 'poof', then you might write the same kind of story for the St. John Sun Times that Bob Tis has. 

He's a long time St. Johnian who's written many articles for the Sun Times and the Tradewinds, and a novel, "Down Island." (Available through Amazon here.)


Read moreSt. John restaurants, past and present

5 new restaurants – all you need to know

No fewer than five new eateries have opened their doors on the island in the past four weeks.
Now, that's a lot of new businesses developing, reason enough for the St. John Sun Times to bend its rules on reviews.  

Samnjacks No time to give the place time to find their groove while the ST's foodies sample the fruits of three visits. So, the Sun Times broke its rules to 'serve' is readers.  

Here are a few notes from the article.

  • Fatty Crab, across from the ball field in Cruz Bay

    "It isn't just dinner, it's an experience … It has a nightclub vibe, with people making the scene, dressed in that island fancy style that must cost a fortune …  The chef, Zak, had actually hooked and pulled in the king fish, mackeral, and mahi that were being served …" 
     

  • Sam & Jack's Deli, 3rd floor of the Marketplace

    "Paradigm shift in the St. John sandwich world … The menu is a New York deli dream … Gourmet take-out comes to St. John … The real star of the shjow is the homemade bread.
     
     

  • Black Sand Bistro, 2nd floor of the Marketplace

    "A pretty spot-on incarnation of the classic French bistro … Serioiusly good food at neighborly prices … Steamed mussls in a spicy marinara sauce, perfectly pan-roasted chicken breast on a bed of penne with carmelized onions."
     

  • Lone Star, 2nd floor of the Marketplace
  • Buddy's Hurricane Hole at Wharfside Village

St. John’s Ronnie’s Pizza delivers ‘Mo’

Ronnie Klingsberg opened his pizza place at Boulon Center five years ago, moving from space next to the Tamarind Inn.

Ronnies_2

Finding either that man (or a business) cannot live on pizza alone, he's hired a top flight cook who's been delivering the 'Mo' in Ronnie's business name, Pizza 'n' Mo.

Zack Williams is the cook and, according to Bob Schlesinger of Tropical Focus photography, "He's been cooking up great inexpensive meals."

During a recent visit, Bob sampled th Lobster Carbanara ($15) while his partner and wife, Karin, tasted the Chicken Picatta with Penne ($16).  Both pronounced them great.  In fact, Karin's planning a 'girls' night out with friends there soon.

Dinner
"It's priced for locals who want a good meal," Schlesinger said, suggesting that families on vacation might want to include Ronnie's on their list of places to eat.

Ronnie opens for business at Noon every day except Saturday when they open at 4 p.m. with New York-style pizza made from fresh dough and with no preservatives.  They are closed Sundays. Delivery's also available every night 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.  His Facebook page is here.  It has fresh menus.

The Schlesinger's aren't the only ones who think Ronnie's good.  Here's a review from Virgin Islands On-Line.