Why We Moved
THE FIRST 12 YEARS: FOREST BAY
Many of you have heard the news already but I am writing this e-mail to clear the air and let everyone know, directly from me and Anne, the real story of what is going on with Straw Hat.
We have owned and operated Straw Hat Restaurant for the past twelve years and operated out of a little, wooden building located in Forest Bay. We loved our location, our neighbors and our restaurant. We employed people who lived in the Forest and Rey Hill areas and watched many of our neighbors children grow up over the past years. We always tried to be a good neighbor and purchased most of our fish, lobster and crayfish right off the jetty which was adjacent to the restaurant building, from the fishermen who keep their boats in Forest Bay. We gave small jobs to the kids in the neighborhood as well. We are very active in the local community with both Anne and myself having served on the Board of Directors of the Anguilla Hotel & Tourism Association as well as Anne’s position on the Boards of the Anguilla Tennis Academy, The Wallblake House Trust and formerly, the Anguilla Arts Festival. Peter is the current president and a Founding Member of the Anguilla Sailing Association and the Anguilla Youth Sailing Club. Straw Hat is involved with Boat Racing, Bicycle Racing, many youth clubs and the Albena Lake Hodge Comprehensive School’s Environmental Club and is a lifetime member of the Anguilla Historical and Archaeological Society, The Anguilla National Trust and the Anguilla Animal Rescue Foundation. We have been long time sponsors of many events on the island and have always been willing to lend a hand to the Anguilla Tourist Board when they need a meal for a visiting member of the press or travel industry. Our dedication to the island was recognized less than a year ago when we were named “2007 Allied Members of the Year” by the membership of the Anguilla Hotel & Tourism Association. We were proud to have been recognized by our peers. We have also been mentioned in countless articles in major publications including Conde Nast Traveler, Caribbean Travel & Life, Travel and Leisure, the New York Times, and many, many more. We love Anguilla and have been very happy to have been a part of this community for the past twelve years and to have been bringing up our nine year old son Jacob here, as the only place he has ever lived. We also have a very special relationship with fourteen year old Kendal Richardson (Kenny) who has been living with us for many years and has become a real part of our family.
For those of you who visited Straw Hat in the past year, you saw the progress being made on the new Conch Bay/Fairmont Anguilla development. We know the developers and have had a good and long relationship with the family, both professionally and personally. We have attempted to speak with them many times about our future in the Forest but, due to uncertainties in the economy and the planning stages of the project, they were never able to give us a definitive answer as to how Straw Hat, and the building it had been housed in, fit into their overall plans. In June of this year, Conch Bay purchased the building from Forest Bay Development. We were looking to make a long-term agreement with Conch Bay/Fairmont and were always willing to work with them and to become a part of their development if they so desired. It appeared, however that at this stage there could be no guarantees as to the future of Straw Hat in that building. We decided that we were not ready to leave Anguilla and, being a young couple with young kids, we knew we needed some security and that meant a long-term agreement with someone. We ended up speaking to the folks at Frangipani. We knew that restaurant very well from having many lunches there and knew that it was a beautiful space that needed something more. When the opportunity was presented, both we and Frangipani discovered that this could be a win-win situation.
Hurricane Omar slowed things down a little bit but we are now full steam ahead. We will have the same people from the old Straw Hat including Doris, Renee, Armel, Jerrel, Shane, Kerry and Mervin. Our kitchen with still include Kevin, and the two Carlos’ as well as our newest addition, Leonardo. Much of the crew from the Frangipani Restaurant, including Marlon Martin and Iona Proctor, will also be joining us this season as we embark on a seven day schedule that will include breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a bar and an “all-day” menu. We have asked for some help from some former members of the Straw Hat family including Bryan Malcarney, who now owns and operates the Blue Lemon Restaurant in Westport, Connecticut, and Marc Alvarez, who owns Perfectly Marc’d Catering in New York City. Both Bryan and Marc took Kevin into their kitchens on a recent trip to New York and Connecticut and set the ground work for our menu this season. Marc is also assisting us in creating the breakfast and lunch menus as well as the “all-day” selections. We look forward to working with Marc and Bryan on menu development and quality control as we go into this new venture and are excited for the possibilities that this, and future seasons, will bring.
We are very excited to start the new season and to see all of our old friends. We realize that many of you loved the old building and the views it offered in its unique situation. We loved it too. We expect to recreate as much of that old feeling and spectacular setting as possible along with some new additions on one of the most beautiful beaches in Anguilla Ð Mead’s Bay. We’ll be waiting to hear your feedback and will do whatever it takes to make your meal at Straw Hat a great part of your Anguilla experience!
Lastly, I would like to thank all of you for your support and friendship over the past twelve seasons. We are very proud of what we have created and accomplished and none of this would have been possible without your repeated visits, constructive criticisms and kind compliments. We look forward to serving you again and ask that you let us know how we’re doing. We look forward to seeing you again soon in Anguilla!