Calico Jack’s, an institution on Seven Mile Beach for the last 15 years, is planning to move to Barkers Beach in West Bay.
Handel Whittaker, owner of the popular beach bar, said he would move the venue and attempt to create a “Rum Point-style” destination on the western side of the island, when his lease runs out on Dart’s Seven Mile Beach property at the end of 2020.
He said Public Beach was becoming congested and the new location would offer the business a better opportunity to grow. The move is the latest in a growing trend of beachside venues moving away from the Seven Mile strip or closing completely. Mr. Whittaker said Calico Jack’s was looking for an opportunity to expand.
“We will be moving to a new home – bigger and better,” he said. “We have 500 feet of beach that we are going to be developing. It is going to be awesome. We will try to attract cruise ship passengers and locals alike. It will be much bigger and more of a destination, like Rum Point.”
He said development on Seven Mile Beach combined with a surge in stay-over tourism meant there was limited space to expand at the current location.
He believes the construction of a new cruise ship terminal will put more pressure on the beach, and cruise tourists and tour organizers will look to destinations beyond the Seven Mile strip. He hopes Calico Jack’s can be part of an expansion of activity on the Barkers peninsula that helps fill that niche. The idea of turning Barkers into a national park has previously been mooted, but Mr. Whittaker said his proposed location was not in the area outlined for that purpose.
He said he would be sad to shutter the existing location but confident that the new venue could have a similar impact in another part of the island.
“We started selling hamburgers and sodas and built something and turned it into an institution that the tourists and locals love,” he said. “When I think about that, I do feel down about [moving location] but I am also confident that the new location will be fruitful.”
The decision is the continuation of a trend on Public Beach that has seen several beachside venues close or announce plans to close.
Surfside beach bar closed when work began on the Kimpton Seafire hotel, while Tiki Beach has been incorporated into the resort. The owners of Hemingways have indicated that the venue will close later this year amid uncertainty about its future as Dart considers its options for the entire Beach Suites site, which the company bought in 2016.
The future of the Royal Palms is also unclear, with Dart announcing preliminary plans for another new hotel on the site encompassing the beach bar.