West End Restaurants Join Forces
[private]Some restaurant owners in Roatan’s West End recently came together to explore ways to increase customer traffic into the area and enhance visitors’ experience.
“The more that we can offer these tourists in a safer environment, the better the experience is, the more money we’ll all make, and the more businesses will open,” said Adam Freschauf, who recently opened the Flying Pig Roadhouse.
Freschauf said the group emerged from informal discussions among area restaurant owners about avoiding a “race to the bottom” during the slow season, cutting prices to attract dwindling customers.
Following a discussion with Joe Mineff of Buena Vida, he said, he invited all the owners to a free barbecue at the Flying Pig June 22. About 10 showed up.
“It came together very quickly,” said Christine Henderson of Linga Longa and Lion Fish Louie’s. But she said the meeting produced “a lot of great ideas.”
“We had a great Fourth of July party,” said Freschauf. “Lion Fish Louie’s kind of spearheaded that, along with Coconut Tree, Monkey Island, and they put on a great fireworks show.”
Henderson hopes to organize similar community events each month, starting with a Lionfish Derby in August, followed by the annual fishing tournament in September and perhaps a seafood festival or “Jazz on the Avenue” event in October. She is also exploring having West End recognized as a historic district.
“The West End has its own vibe and its own personality,” said Henderson, who moved here and established her business only recently. Her partner, Jack Mitchell, who has lived on Roatan many years, said he wanted to revive the “vibe” West End had in 2005-06.
“The overall big picture was to help West End and as a group try to come up with ideas,” said Mineff.
One short-term goal the group has set is to have a water taxi from West Bay to West End that would leave around 6:30 p.m. return around 10:30. Customers could validate their tickets at a participating West End bar or restaurant and ride back free.
“A lot of people won’t come over from West Bay because then they can’t get a water taxi after dark, and a regular taxi costs them an arm and a leg,” explained Wendy Mineff, Joe’s wife and partner.
Another proposal, modeled on New Orleans’s Bourbon Street, is to have a West End logo cup that customers would buy at a participating bar, then take it up and down the strip to refill at different establishments and, at the end of the night, take it home as a souvenir.
“We’re targeting long term to bring people to and from the cruise ships for a day,” said Henderson. “We have a beautiful beach here; it’s underutilized.”
Traffic and parking are also high on the group’s agenda.
“People come to the West End for the vibe,” said Henderson. “When you’re stuck in a traffic jam for 20 minutes and you’re just going four establishments down, it’s a problem.”
Another topic that came up at the first meeting was Municipally mandated closing times.
“It’s an old ordinance that doesn’t necessarily reflect the businesses of today,” said Mineff.
At press time the group planned to meet again July 27, then notionally the third Saturday of every month thereafter, with “a comfortable, casual agenda where we’re getting small bits of the pieces done,” in Mineff’s words.
“We’re not trying to build an association. We’re trying to build a group of people that are like-minded, that are just tying to put forth some common goals,” said Freschauf. “We’ve got to figure out a way to work together to make this a better place” and deal with some of the problems that “negate” the visitor’s experience and are “a detriment to our island.”[/private]