ST. THOMAS — Those who have enjoyed sharing a small plate or two and craft cocktails at The Longboard in Cruz Bay, St. John are in for another treat by the team at the other end of the ferry ride to and from St. Thomas, their new restaurant called The Easterly. Convenient for those coming over from St. John as well as visitors staying at nearby resorts and St. Thomas local residents, The Easterly brings a great new vibe to Red Hook.
Co-owners Clint Gaskins, Tyler Beckstead and Kenny Claxton are no strangers to the restaurant industry. Gaskin, originally from Charleston, S.C., has years of experience in high end restaurants, bars and hotels. He teamed up with Beckstead, who has worked in restaurants, bars and charter boats in Charleston, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands, to open The Longboard on St. John in 2015.
“We were traveling down here a lot, liked the area and started looking at potentially doing a restaurant,” said Gaskins. “We felt like some concepts on the island were underserving the tourist base that was coming in and also the local base. We wanted a light, airy approach to what people expect when they step off the beach or get off the plane for a week in the Caribbean.”
The laid-back Caribbean-inspired cantina offers a menu inspired by flavors from coastal regions around the globe using fresh produce and fresh local fish plus some more unusual ingredients not frequently found in the islands. Small plates are the draw here, and people are encouraged to share over sips of their signature Frozen Painkiller.
The need for a chef change brought Kenny Claxton to the table, formerly of The Terrace on St. John. Claxton joined the partnership, and they were casting their net for new opportunities.
“Watching the ferry loads of people coming over to St. John for dinner, we saw the need for new, better dining options in the Red Hook area,” Gaskins explained. “If St. Thomas people or people from The Ritz are willing to spend $16 round-trip on a ferry for a family of four, then obviously there was a need on the East End for more options.”
The former Senor Frogs location just steps from the ferry terminal seemed like an ideal space. They took over in May of 2017, but hurricanes Irma and Maria caused some obvious delays in construction. The Easterly officially opened on Friday.
“On day one, honestly, we didn’t know what we were putting there, but we knew we wanted the space,” said Gaskins. “It was in a great location, kind of the gateway to the BVI, a tourist hub for that side of the island. From a cuisine standpoint, we wanted to highlight the seafood that is down here and do it all with a very simple, more rustic form of cooking and presentation. We also wanted to do all this in a communal and social setting, where you can come in with friends and share small plates.”
The total transformation of the location is impressive. With oyster shell-embedded walls and a sophisticated Bohemian-island vibe, The Easterly is inviting for small groups in the comfy lounge area, as well as for diners in both the cozy dining area or out on the breezy porch overlooking the water. You can also take a seat at the large wraparound bar for what they describe as a social, vibrant and interactive dining experience.
Seafood-driven, The Easterly offers an array of small plates such as ceviches, crudos, oysters on the half shell and more, both hot and cold, complemented by local flavors and locally grown produce. Large plates include items such as whole fish cooked on a wood-fire grill, though if you prefer a rib eye, you can enjoy that, too.
Craft cocktails are a specialty at The Easterly. Enjoy a She Dragon, with dragon fruit-infused vodka, elderflower liqueur, grapefruit, lemon, mint and honey foam or a tasty Soursop Colada. They also serve locally made beers and offer a well-rounded wine list.
The Easterly is open for dinner seven days a week, with the kitchen open from 4 to 10 p.m. and Happy Hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Reservations are accepted, though walk-ins are welcome. The Easterly is available for parties, weddings, corporate dinners and other private events.
Gaskins, with his wife Kristen, also owns Ballast Hospitality, a hospitality management company with bases in Charleston, S.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands with the ability to operate multiple restaurants, so look for further growth in the future from the Longboard/Easterly team.
Call 340-714-1000 or visit www.theeasterlystthomas.com or visit them on Facebook or Instagram.