They say, “Luck is the residue of design,” and in the case of Lime Out, the floating taco bar in Coral Bay, truer words were never spoken.
Only a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the owners ordered floating seats, arranged in a circle, in which their customers could perch while munching tacos and quaffing signature cocktails.
It turns out the floats are the perfect arrangement for aquatic social distancing required under current restrictions that forbid bellying up to a bar – on land or in the water. Lime Out’s original setup – a bar attached to the vessel – was now obsolete under the law, but the six circular floats (tethered to Lime Out) function like booths that can seat up to six.
On Oct. 6, after months of waiting out the pandemic and hurricane season, customers found they could experience in-water service within their own little floating circle. All that’s missing are the tables – customers have to hold their food in their laps.
It’s just one of the accommodations the owners of Lime Out have made in order to reopen under “the new normal.” Because of COVID-19 restrictions, they can’t allow boats to raft up, and they no longer offer shuttle service by boat from a restaurant across the harbor.
However, they do deliver, and they’re starting to get busy now that the early October rains are over. As the British Virgin Islands remain closed to non-residents, boaters who might otherwise patronize Willy T or other popular bars in the BVI are finding their way to Lime Out to enjoy the novelty of eating in a semi-submerged state.
Chelsea Baranowski, one of the owners, said she is grateful to be back in business in the sunlight and open air with the sea all around.
She and her husband, Richard, have also just reopened their land-based restaurant, The Lime Inn, in Cruz Bay. The Lime Inn, which was started by her parents 35 years ago, owes its success partly to the fact that the owners are on the scene every day.
Chelsea said they have struggled to find a way to stay in business under COVID-19 restrictions, which limit table seating to 50 percent capacity. Bar dining service, which had been a big part of their business, is no longer allowed. To compensate, they’ve changed from all-day service to dinner only, offering a four-course tasting menu at $65 per person.
“I don’t know how other restaurants are managing,” she said. “We’re just trying to find a way to stay afloat.”