The impact of Hurricane Irma on the Caribbean island of Anguilla was significant. Power lines all across the island were knocked down, palm trees were stripped of their fronds and businesses and homes destroyed, in some cases completely swept away.
More significantly, however, has been the island’s ability to bounce back. In the face of an historical storm, the island has recovered remarkably well with homes, businesses, nature and its inhabitants coming back quicker than could have ever been reasonably expected. Now they wait for the tourists, a vital cog in the island’s economic machine, to come back.
I reached out to Patrick Lynch for commentary from someone on the island to obtain a first person view of the island since the hurricane. Patrick and his wife Claire run Roy’s Bayside Grill, a beachfront restaurant located on Road Bay in Sandy Ground that is owned by Claire’s parents, Roy and Mandy. Patrick was kind enough to agree to the interview and following is our conversation.
I don’t believe you had to cancel any of your popular Friday happy hours. How did you manage to pull that off?
“The storm was over by early afternoon on Wednesday and we got down to the restaurant immediately. It’s normally a 12 minute drive that took us an hour. When we arrived one of our staff members has already started cleaning up. He and his friends had a wood pile, a brush pile and a trash pile. We just joined in. Thursday more of our staff, some friends and even some regular customers showed up and we kept cleaning. Friday was a little detailed cleaning and setup. We were serving lunch by 2:00 and Happy Hour started on time at 5:00!”
I know you now have a permanent bar in the Pavilion. As you were rebuilding the restaurant, did you take the opportunity to change anything else about it?
“The Pavilion lost its roof and the bar was badly beat up, so along with a new roof it got a new bar. We will use the Pavilion as our main restaurant when we start renovations on what’s left of the main section.
We haven’t settled on what we will be doing to the main restaurant when we start the renovations there. Losing the dining room and the roof that covered it left us with an open air deck that people are really enjoying, but we need some additional covered seating, so we’re working through our options.”
How has the support been from your employees, neighbor and friends on the island been?
“I mentioned previously that many showed up to help clean up without being asked and our employees are very happy to have jobs as so many on island currently do not. Our guests have been very appreciative as well and in some cases very understanding. Our supply chains to the island have been very good with only a few hiccups, so when we had a day with no vegetables to offer or lettuce for sandwiches or burgers everyone was understanding about it.”
What is the status of the apartment at Roy’s that you rent out?
“The apartment is in great shape. Unfortunately we’ve had a few cancellations, so we are wide open in January for anyone looking for a last minute getaway! After that we have confirmed bookings February through April.”
What would you like your customers to know?
“We’re open and not just Roy’s but Anguilla is open. The island as a whole has rebounded quickly. The large resorts on island are rebuilding but there are several smaller boutique hotels open. Many of the restaurants are now open and there are plenary of villas offering off season rates for the year. The beaches are as beautiful as ever and have hardly a soul on them.
If you want to help us, visit us – our island is ready! Getting here may be a little more difficult right now with reduced airlift into St. Martin but it will be worth it. Just keep in mind, Irma was the strongest hurricane every recorded in the Atlantic basin, so watch your step and mind your head.”
If you would like to help Roy’s and their continued recovery effort, you can do so via their GoFundMe page.