Those fortunate enough to have been able to play at the old Rum Point Club may soon get a chance to relive that experience.
North Sider Mel McCoy is taking what his family learned at the old club and re-transforming the Driftwood Bar and Grill in North Side.
‘We’re going to adopt the old Rum Point Club management style, which Mr. Otto wouldn’t have any problem with,’ Mr. McCoy said.
Mr. Otto is Otto Elser, former owner and manager of Driftwood Village during its heyday as a hotel property and bar. He and his wife, Kathy, took over the vacation spot in 1978, 10 years after it was built. He continued to run the place until his death in a car crash in January 2001, at which time Frank McCoy took over day-to-day management.
The bar remained pretty much the same and the cabanas that surrounded it could still be lived in until September 2004 when Hurricane Ivan blew away the bar and left only one cabana in living condition.
Mrs. Elser and Frank McCoy rebuilt Driftwood Village, making it a sports bar, but all of the memorabilia that Otto and Frank had collected throughout the years had been lost in the hurricane.
Driftwood closed its doors for good almost two years ago.
‘I have taken this on as a personal venture,’ said Mr. McCoy. ‘I was tired of seeing the place the way it is.’
He said the new and improved Driftwood will be peaceful with a friendly atmosphere; a place for a family outing that is decidedly Caymanian.
Changes at Driftwood will be immediately noticeable for the diehards who played there every weekend.
For starters, the bar has been moved so that it now faces the Caribbean Sea instead of the road, offering more stools and more bar space.
While bars and restaurants in North Side offer wireless Internet, the Driftwood will have a computer so people can check their emails for free.
A new pool table is on its way and there will be a jukebox controlled by the bartender. ‘No more of that loud boom, boom, boom,’ Mr. McCoy said.
The deck will serve as a dance floor, where there will also be a bandstand. Mr. McCoy intends to invite area bands to perform on occasion and Driftwood visitors will, from time to time, be treated to Mr. McCoy’s band – Cocoa Red.
He plans to have six on staff – all Caymanians – at first, with a grill opening up in high tourist season.
The grill will offer fresh seafood – ‘no big freezers. No microwaves. No deep fryers,’ he said. His plan is to offer ‘a nice fresh meal under $12. What we cook in the day we use. When it’s done, it’s done.’ Much of that cooking will be done on an old-style caboose and the dining area will be basic and rustic.
There won’t be a mandatory 15 per cent gratuity. ‘If you feel like tipping the cook, you tip the cook,’ Mr. McCoy said.
A Sunday barbecue will make its return to North Side, but this time it will be prepared by locals.
There will be three flat-screen televisions in the bar and big games will be projected onto a screen.
Mr. McCoy also plans to lure snorkellers by providing them with an outside shower.
‘This is some of the best snorkelling on this side of the Island,’ he said.
The specialty drink of the Driftwood will be the Yellow Bird, made the old-fashioned way, just like they did at the Old Rum Point Club in the 1970s.
‘Drinks like that made islands like this so popular,’ he said.
Premium brands will be on offer. The real McCoy, if you will; no watered-down drinks.
Oh, and cold beer.
‘There should be no excuse for not having a cold beer,’ Mr. McCoy said. ‘We’re going to have cold beer.’
Helping Mr. McCoy get the place up and running have been Jay Ebanks and Tenson Bodden, their crews and family and friends.
He’s now waiting on the completion of Planning Department inspections to open the door. He hopes to be open by the end of July, but if not, as soon as Government gives him the OK.
Who’s Mel McCoy?
In the entertainment, food and beverage business since the late 1970s.
At the Old Galleon Beach in the 1980s.
One of the first qualified Caymanian food and beverage managers.
Studies food preparation and original sauces in Philadelphia under noted chefs.
Studied many courses in the food and beverage industry while travelling when working with Jacques Scott.
Took Taste of Cayman abroad.
Son of Judson McCoy, better known as Old Jud, an icon in bar and restaurant management.
‘Old Jud was big in his day; Otto had his too and now I’m going to take my piece.’