Chat with Local “Ms Congeniality” and Restaurant Owner of St. Croix, USVI during Covid-19.

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Elena Lee-Hensley.

If you know Elena of Christiansted’s fun hangout, New Deep End, you know that calling her Ms Congeniality (as she was dubbed in high school) is not really far-fetched.

She runs one of the most socially interactive spots on the island where every night is potentially a theme night for the entire family, from crab races to dress-up parties to ‘Disco Bingo’ on Thursday nights for which reservations need to be made weeks in advance. And not to forget the Sunday Fundays and sometimes even Monday Fundays when beach goers and beach-bar bums dance from noon to close.

Steven Katz performs at New Deep End almost every Sunday brunch.
Adrian Rogers – Performs at New Deep End almost every Monday Night

Of course, Covid-19’s global reset, and its lockdown effects, also reached the sandy shores of St. Croix where Elena excites the socialites.

Can you imagine being on a Caribbean island, confined to your house? Must be tough not being able to move freely, knowing the ocean, the palm trees, the sunsets are just outside your door… let alone enjoying a cocktail or lovely dinner at your favorite local beach hangout. 

But don’t despair too much, Caribbean islanders have known tough times for hundreds of years. Alexander Hamilton, a former resident of this island, wrote how devastated – post-hurricane – this island was 250-odd years ago. The islanders have become very resilient and accustomed to hurricanes and tropical storms, to these uninvited visitors to their shores. Somehow they always manage to receive tourists and travelers from far and wide to join them on their beautiful islands though. Just give them a little time to clean up, get some fresh air and brush off the cobwebs – no problem.

Elena, too, stepped up like any vigilant denizen when the last hurricane hit St. Croix, and helped supply food and rescue packages to sister islands St. Thomas and St. John. That was, until St. Croix was hit a second time and then needed help from anywhere they could get it.

Back to today, here’s some good news – some beaches in the Caribbean have now been re-opened. But like anywhere else in the world right now, life is not what it is supposed to be in the mega land of sun and sand. Businesses forced to close, or in the case of restaurants like New Deep End – just serving takeouts – are at the forefront of the worst hit in this part of the world too. What’s more, many islands are still struggling to find their feet after a particularly bad hurricane season in 2017.

Almost every night is a theme night

I asked Elena, whose popular bar and grille, located at the Tamarind Resort in the US Virgin Islands, to give us some insights into the “through thick and thin” of an island restaurateur’s life.

What is it like to run a business on a Caribbean island?

Running a business in the Caribbean is always challenging. In the restaurant business, consistency in product delivery is one of our biggest challenges. Our food and beverage distributors ship in all of their inventory from the States. Many times it is not always the same brands or they weren’t able to get the product on the boat in time.

In the Virgin Islands, since the last two cat 5 hurricanes hit us in September 2017 (within a week of each other), our housing situation has caused a tremendous toll on staffing. 

Following Hurricane Maria our hotels that were still standing filled up with Rescue Relief workers. There were not enough rooms to support all those, including the linesmen and additional FEMA workers, so they turned to private homes. Those who owned houses that were in good shape were able to rent them at a higher price than they had been charging locals. Rents went from $1,200 a month to $12,000 a month, forcing a lot of the restaurant industry to leave island. 

We are still trying to recover from loss of staffing as a result of this.

How are you coping during the Covid 19 crisis?

Deep End Bar & Grille’s struggle with staffing increased when we finally began to see a “tourist season” around Christmas. We worked the few staff members we had with a lot of overtime until we came to a screeching halt with the Coronavirus. Many restaurants closed down while others have been struggling to stay open with the “take out only: park, pick up & go”.

I have changed my hours every week, to balance paying staff to work when there is a demand for food. I have gone from 9am to 5pm the first week 7 days a week to Mon- Fri. 3-8pm. I am still not making ends meet.

What is the first thing you will do to spark interest in your business when the crisis is over?

During this “down time” I am painting, cleaning and reorganizing the restaurant for reopening in the future. I also post regularly on facebook.com/ElenaLeeHensley, facebook.com/newdeepend and www.newdeepend.com about what’s up and menu specials.

Elena has all kinds of food specials running at New Deep End. Wednesdays, for instance, are Buddy Burger Night. Buy one and get any second one 1/2 off. You can choose from the regular menu too, excluding the Caprese Burger. Regular menu begins at 3pm and the following specials begin at 4pm. But like she said she changes the times weekly, so rather check out her postings on her social media pages or website. Here are some of her current specials:

Smothered ‘n Covered Burger —–$16 (covered with sautéed onions and mushrooms, swiss cheese, may and BBQ sauce).

California BLT Burger ——$16 (topped with fresh avocado and mayo).

Snapper Sandwich Supreme ——$16 (fried with sautéed peppers and onions, Marinara sauce and melted mozzarella cheese).

Spicy Jerk Chicken Quesadilla ——$14 (with pineapple veggie chutney and mozzarella cheese).

Sides available: Tomato/cucumber salad, coleslaw, regular fries, wedge fries, sweet potato fries.

Cream of Broccoli Soup – Cup ——$6 or Bowl ——$8.

$8 Dessert: Mango Cream Pie or Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

What can you do to help a business like New Deep End? 

Support them by ordering takeout or by sharing the news of their great food with your friends, so they can also enjoy it’s many delectables. Or, dream ahead and buy a food voucher for when you do get back to St. Croix. Their menu is available on the website: www.newdeepend.com or call now: +1 (340) 718-7071 (No Voice Mail).

By Liz Piano. www.facebook.com/lizpiano


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6th Annual Toga Animal House Party, St. Croix, 25 Aug 2019

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailST. CROIX, USVI 🇻🇮 It’s time to get your Togo’s together! Our 6th Annual Toga Animal House Party for the Animal Welfare Center is on Sunday, August 25 with Kurt Schindler and Adrian Rogers sponsored by Mutiny Vodka!

Help us help the homeless animals on St. Croix by participating in the Toga Animal. House Party’s 2019 B / S ( Bartender/ Server) SUMMER GAMES on August 25. Call or text me 340 690-4780 for more info or call AWC 340 778-1650.

See flyer below for details on HOW TO PARTICIPATE…

NewDeepEnd.com is featured on CoolestCarib.com

20 Top Things to Do in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands While on a Cruise

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailYou should check these top 20 things to do in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. Mainly catered for cruise ship visitors who are on a Caribbean cruise vacation.

From wandering quaint waterfront towns to exploring green rolling hills dotted with sugar plantation ruins and lying on miles of soft white sandy beach there are plenty of things to do in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.

Whether your cruise to the USVI is scheduled to dock in St. Croix or you are planning a visit of your own. You are in for a treat. If you are interested in history, culture, perfect beaches, lush outdoors and unparalleled underwater adventures then this eastern Caribbean island is the place to be.

This lesser traveled island in the US Virgin Islands cluster is actually the largest and boasts of such a diverse land and water ecosystem it’s impossible to explore it all in just a day on-port.

But don’t take our word for it, we’ve done the research and found 20 things for cruise ship passengers to do during a visit to the island. First, some essential port information to help you out.

St. Croix Port Information

St. Croix also known as ‘Twin City’ has two major cities. Unlike other USVI islands, cruise ships don’t dock in the capital of St. Croix. Instead, ships dock at the Ann E. Abramson Pier in Frederiksted on the western side of the island. This pier is long enough to host two mega ships.

St. Croix Cruise Port
Photo Credit: Prayitno (Creative Commons)

The pier has a tourism desk, bathrooms and from there downtown, Frederiksted is just a walking distance. You can take a taxi from Budget Frederiksted to Christiansted to explore the capital city and the eastern side of the island. Since St. Croix has been a United States territory since 1917, the official currency on the island is the dollar and English is the common language.

1. Explore Frederiksted

Before you wander to the eastern side of the island, check out the west. This is where most of the magic is. From lush botanical gardens and rolling mountain background to pristine white sand beaches, Frederiksted has it all.

Take a walking tour of the town. Explore the Victorian Era architecture while you pop in and out of shops and quaint restaurants. There is plenty to eat, drink and shop in and around the town area.

Read rest of above article on CruiseHive.com

Businesses in St. Croix, USVI listed on CoolestCarib.com include:

BEACH RESORT:
Chenay Bay Beach Resort: www.ChenayBay.com

CAR RENTALS:
Olympic St. Croix: www.OlympicStCroix.com

RESTAURANT & BEACH BARS:
The New Deep End Beach Bar & Grill: www.NewDeepEnd.com
Eat At Cane Bay: www.EatAtCaneBay.com

SCUBA DIVING:
Latitude 17 Scuba St. Croix: www.Lat17Scuba.com

Branson’s Virgin Group Buys Hurricane-Wrecked Solar Farm to Help Rebuild Caribbean

Branson's Virgin Group Buys Hurricane-Wrecked Solar Farm to Help Rebuild Caribbean

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailVirgin Group’s BMR Energy announced Tuesday that it bought a 4-megawatt solar plant from NRG Energy, Inc. in St. Croix that was badly damaged during Hurricane Maria.

BMR Energy will take over the power purchase agreement and restoration efforts of the solar farm, the company said in a press release.

BMR Energy, which develops and operates clean energy projects in the Caribbean and Latin America, was purchased by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group in 2016.

“The world needs to find ways to introduce more resilient clean energy,” Branson said in the release. “The Caribbean has an abundance of clean energy sources, and BMR are taking great strides towards helping create zero-carbon energy supplies for years to come.”

Rebuilding the storm-wrecked region is a cause that is close to the Virgin founder. The billionaire businessman owns a private island in British Virgin Islands where he rode out both hurricanes Irma and Maria in the space of two weeks.

“I’ve never experienced anything quite like Hurricane Irma,” Branson said in an Instagram video in September. “It literally devastated the British Virgin Islands.”

My experience of Hurricane #Irma

A post shared by Richard Branson (@richardbranson) on


Continue reading full article by Lorraine Chow on  www.ecowatch.com.

A Revolution to Save the Caribbean’s Coral Reefs

A Revolution to Save the Caribbean's Coral Reefs

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The Nature Conservancy is launching a revolution to save our coral reefs throughout the Caribbean and beyond. Joining forces with the world’s best scientists, we are developing and deploying groundbreaking techniques to grow new corals and bring dying reefs back to life.

Learn more about how we’re fighting to save these unique and essential ecosystems before our oceans are irreversibly damaged. The Year of the Reef! Keep up with The Nature Conservancy’s latest efforts to protect nature and preserve life on Twitter (twitter) and Facebook (facebook) Text NATURE to 97779 to join The Nature Conservancy on text.

To sign-up for nature e-news visit:  support.nature.org

Frederiksted St. Croix – After Hurricane Maria

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailLocal Perspective! Posted by WSVI Ch8news

Earl Morris, veteran videographer is out and about looking around St. Croix on Day 2 after Maria and has sent Channel 8 TV some pictures from his journey

Posted by WSVI Ch8news on Thursday, September 21, 2017