ST. CROIX — The once sleepy town of Frederiksted is slowly being awakened, as new businesses have been opening in the town in recent months.
Most recently, owners of the property located at 7 Strand St. opened the doors to 7/AF and are hoping for a long-term relationship with the community, building memories over great food.
The restaurant is located on the waterfront in the old Blue Moon Restaurant location. In the name, AF is short for Asian Fusion, according to part-owner Brian Montgomery.
Montgomery said that along with his partners, Kevin Shea and Lisa Nafis, they are hoping to fill the void for Asian food in Frederiksted.
“If you think about it, there is no Chinese food restaurant or any other type of Asian restaurant on this side of the island, so we thought it was something we could bring that the community would appreciate,” he said.
Montgomery moved to St. Croix from the Washington, D.C., area where he ran a neighborhood sports bar restaurant in Arlington, Va. He said after owning that restaurant for 10 years, the opportunity to open a restaurant on St. Croix was presented to him and he moved to the island two weeks before Hurricane Irma hit in September 2017.
“The timing was crazy, but I stayed and opened Louie and Nacho Mexican Restaurant here in Frederiksted in January of 2018,” he said. “I then opened Smoked STX here in September of that year. I saw the need for a good taco place and a good barbecue place and now the need for a good Asian restaurant and I’m hoping to make these places restaurants that people will continue to come back to.”
The property at 7 Strand St. is just over 20,000 square feet, inclusive of the bar and restaurant, an open courtyard, retail space and seven units that are being renovated to be utilized as Airbnbs. “The property is gorgeous and has so much potential, we are really excited about it and what it could mean for bringing back life to Frederiksted and the Westend,” he said. “It’s the only property in this area that has a third floor and a wraparound porch and the views are just breathtaking from up there.”
The views inside the bar and restaurant are also a sight to see. Walking in from the street, the rustic feel of the centuries-old building embraces you. The stone walls have been stripped of plaster that once covered their original beauty. Other walls are painted Arctic white, while the insides of the arched windows that divide the dining room in two are painted candy apple red with black trim. Vibrant paintings by local artist Eric Paxton hang on the walls bringing a warm feeling and tying the old and new aspects of the restaurant together.
The Joey Harkum Duo provided live music that brought people in off the street during the soft opening of 7/AF last week. Montgomery, however, said having live music at the restaurant is not somethings that they are planning to do on a continuous basis.
With the Asian fusion concept, Montgomery said they intend to feature mainly Chinese cuisine, but they have also introduced Thai, Korean, and Japanese foods to the menu. “Our menu is not extensive, not too complex, but just the right balance of this and that to make it interesting and unique,” he said. “We have tons of traditional Asian foods and flavors to make it a great dining experience and a great vibe in this new location.”
Montgomery said the opening of a new business in Frederiksted is something that he and his partners are excited about but it is also something the community is excited about because they have been able to provide jobs for locals in various areas of the business and will continue to do so through the different phases of expanding their services. “We are not short sided on this venture; we have a responsibility to be consistent and dependable to our customers and to the community. We plan to continue feeding into the community that we hope will sustain us passed any tourist season for years to come,” he said.
Hours of operation for the restaurant are 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. nightly with plans to eventually expand to include lunch beginning at 11 a.m. daily, according to Montgomery. Find about more about their progress on their social media page at 7/AF on Facebook or call them at 340-692-7777 for information and take out orders.