Fynn’s Place – Flying Fish in the Virgin Islands

Larry Clemons opened his outdoor eatery – named for his grandson – on Frederiksted's north end. (Source photo by Denise Lenhardt-Benoit)
Larry Clemons opened his outdoor eatery – named for his grandson – on Frederiksted’s north end. (Source photo by Denise Lenhardt-Benoit)

Following the trend towards simple specialty menus and the idea that less is more, Fynn’s Place, an outdoor eatery on the north end of Frederiksted features the only known flying fish sandwich in the Virgin Islands.

The tasty grilled fish is served on a bun with lettuce and tomato, tartar sauce, and a side of spicy potato salad. All natural, organic mango smoothies are also on the menu, to wash it all down.

Owner Larry Clemons named the restaurant for his grandson, Fynn. He said he knew he wanted to do something different during his retirement but hadn’t decided on what that might be. Oddly enough, he says, the inspiration for the restaurant came from a ten- year old T-shirt his girlfriend won in a raffle.

“After the trauma of Hurricane Maria, my girlfriend Leslie and I decided to get away from St. Croix for some rest and relaxation. One particular day, she wore this T-shirt with an unusual slogan, ’Fish Do Fly’.”

And just like that, Clemons decided to take yet another vacation, this time to the island of Barbados, widely known as “the land of the flying fish.” These foot-long fish, which “fly” over the water for a distance as long as 200 feet, are found in other waters but Bajans have refined the skill of de-boning them. Caught mainly during the winter and spring months, flying fish is a tasty, slightly oily fish that is delicious shallow fried in soft breadcrumbs with just the right amount of Bajan seasoning.

Clemons' learned to cook his signature sandwich in Barbados, 'the land of the flying fish.' (Source photo by Denise Lenhardt-Benoit)
Clemons’ learned to cook his signature sandwich in Barbados, ‘the land of the flying fish.’ (Source photo by Denise Lenhardt-Benoit)

While in Barbados, Clemons made the necessary contacts to import flying fish to the Virgin Islands. And the rest, as they say, is history. His food stand has begun attracting tourists and locals headed to Rainbow Beach or looking for a quick bite at lunchtime. One local businessman and his partner stopped by to sample the famous flying fish and shared his thoughts.

“I think Larry has hit on a good idea, simple menu, no fuss, just good eating. I’m glad I stopped by today,” he unnamed diner said.

A resident of the U.S. Virgin Islands for more than 40 years, Clemons is well known on St. Croix as a retired Port of Authority fire chief at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, and in particular as the producer and lead vocalist of the Green Flash, an immensely popular rock ‘n’ roll/rhythm and blues band during the 1980s.

“Frederiksted was a ghost town on Sundays before the Green Flash, “ Clemons recalled.

At various times during their roughly 13-year reign on St. Croix, major blues, country, and rock figures played with the band, including Koko Taylor, Taj Mahal, Dave Mason, Jimmy Thackerey of the Nighthawks, Bonnie Raitt and Steve Winwood.

“We played at Cane Bay, the Lost Dog, Divi Carina Bay, Changes in Latitude; all over the island and throughout the northern Caribbean,” he said.

Clemons promises his mango smoothies are made with organic, non-GMO mangos and no added sugar, water or other liquid; just ice and the most important ingredient of all, a drop of love.

“I am passionate about mangos and I’ve spent 25 years cultivating different varieties – Kensington, Palmer, Keitt, Kent, and Julie mangos. All those years of hard work have paid off, and now my trees produce mangos well into November each year.”

Once Clemons builds the “hacienda-style” structure for his restaurant, he plans to introduce one more dish to the menu; an Asian inspired “prepare it yourself” steamed vegetable dish, that he promises will have customers coming back for more.

Fynn’s Place is on Route 60, just south of Rainbow Beach in Estate Prosperity, Frederiksted, and is open for business from 1:30 to 5 p.m. on Sundays and most cruise ship days.