Latitude 18, the legendary bar at Vessup Point, has reopened under new ownership, much to the delight of its loyal customers.
The 22-year old venue closed last August amid much fanfare and sadness, after the previous owners struggled to keep it afloat in the sluggish economy.
But Michael Baird and Joe Walling, both East End residents and regular patrons of the bar, felt that the place was worth saving. So a couple of months ago they pooled their resources and decided to give Latitude a new lease on life.
“It’s a St. Thomas landmark,” Baird said. “We just wanted to keep it going.”
After several weeks of planning, hiring and renovation, the bar finally came back to life last weekend with beverage service. Food service will resume this coming weekend.
Though Latitude 18 still retains its airy, laid-back atmosphere, it has been spruced up with new paint, new furniture, a new menu, new staff, and some new amenities.
“There’s a new attitude at Latitude 18,” Baird quipped. “That’s our motto.”
Flat screen TVs lend a slightly more high-tech look to the bar area, while a volleyball court and a horseshoe pit now adorn the adjacent field.
The revised and expanded menu includes some old favorites like ribeye steak, but also offers a wide variety of salads, wraps, burgers, and fish dishes.
Live entertainment will include such perennial favorites as The Fiddler, who is booked weekly throughout the winter, plus cover bands and other musical acts. There will also be one special “event” night every month.
Baird said he hopes that the changes will help boost business. “Though we want to keep the old clientele, who have been very loyal to the bar through the years, we want to bring in new people too,” he said.
Another way he plans to bring in more customers is by targeting the cruise ship crowd. Latitude has partnered with Just For You Concierge company, which will offer day excursions to Vessup.
“Vessup is a great destination,” Baird said. “Between the beach, the water sports, the bar, and the activities in the field, there is a lot to do here.”
Latitude will also host a concierge kiosk on-site, where visitors can arrange water sports excursions, tours and other activities.
“It’s definitely a good thing they’ve done here,” said Mack, a longtime patron of the bar, referring to the reopening. “Latitude 18 has been home to a lot of people for a lot of years, and now they can come home again.”
“At Latitude you can guarantee you’ll always get a nice breeze, a beautiful view, and nice people,” added Paulie, another fixture at the bar. Both declined to offer last names.
Latitude 18’s “official” opening is December 10, when the bar will host the first round of the Battle of the Bands competition benefiting the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.
Hours are 11am to midnight, with food service until 10pm.