Food and martini aficionados should mark their calendars, there will soon be a new hot spot on the Cruz Bay dining and entertainment scene.
If all goes well, Infusions Lounge with their selection of house-made infused vodka drinks and assortment of light appetizers and salads will open its doors on August 1.
Phillip and Cheryl DeDucca have been working hard to transform what was once Oscars Tropical Bar into an air conditioned hamlet of jazz music, tasty treats and incredible cocktails.
The couple, originally from Rhode Island, first visited St. John seven years ago for a pretty special occasion.
Love at First Visit
We got married at Cinnamon Bay, said Phillip. We just loved the island and weve spent the last six years trying to find something nicer or as nice as St. John.
Weve traveled to every other island in the Caribbean and not one has the pristine beaches and beautiful downtown area that St. John has, he continued. The pair were first looking into spending part of the year in Love City, but quickly changed their minds.
At first we thought it would be nice to spend winters down here, said Cheryl. But then we were like, lets go for it.Its been an adventure.
An adventure indeed. Just picking up, selling everything you own and moving down to a small island in the Caribbean with your teenage son and two dogs can be difficult enough. Now add to that the stress of opening a restaurant and bar.
A lot of people come on vacation and say I want to move here, said Phillip. We were all set in Rhode Island. We had our home and our land and our business.
We could have just stayed there doing our thing, but I wanted a challenge, he added.
Ready for Challenge
The couple, along with their son Michael who will be a senior at the Gifft Hill School this fall, definitely set themselves up for a challenge. The first obstacle was finding a location for their enterprise.
We were looking at different places actually when we stumbled across this space, said Phillip. We had already worked on two other deals when we found this. We negotiated the deal within an hour.
Basically we found a seller who wanted to sell, he added.
There was one other attraction about the location of their future establishment, explained Cheryl.
My favorite restaurant is Stone Terrace, which is right around the corner, she said.
Time-consuming Finishing Work
The DeDuccas, who have backgrounds in the hospitality business, bought the lease for the establishment from local developer Eric Tillett in February. The couple waited until their son finished his junior year in high school before making the move from the northeast.
Tillett originally had plans to open a similar establishment in the space, and even had the name Infusions picked out already. Although the modern stainless steel bar was already in place, there was plenty of work left for the DeDuccas. The shell was done, but were doing all the finish work, said Phillip. Tillett did about 80 percent of the work, but its the last 20 percent that takes 80 percent of the time.
When I first saw the place, it was empty, said Cheryl. But I could see the possibilities.
The couple have been painting, installing the sound system, smoke eater and setting the atmosphere with pictures and lighting.
It will be really comfortable and laid back in here, said Cheryl.
The comfort can already be felt. There are two red leather couches inviting you to relax as soon as you step through the doors and pictures of classic movie stars and jazz singers smile at you from the walls.
I think that were filling a niche, said Phillip. Well be a fully air conditioned indoor place that has great drinks and music in a comfortable, lounge-type atmosphere.
That lounge setting might transform into more of a sports pub during the DeDuccas favorite time of the year football season.
Were really big Patriots fans, so well have big screen TVs in here for the games, said Phillip. We always had a big Super Bowl party at home, so well definitely have a big one here too.
The couple also plans to renovate the front of the establishment.
I want to have a patio area out in front, said Cheryl. Well have plants, and benches with tables. I also want to put up lattice to enclose the area, so you will forget that theres a rental place next door and everything.
Private Parties Possible
The DeDuccas are also planning to make their space available for private parties.
We plan on doing some private parties and different events, said Phillip. We could close and have the whole space for the event.
When it first opens, Infusions Lounge will be open from 12 noon until midnight, Tuesdays through Sundays. The restaurant and lounge will be open all summer long and will not close during off-season, Cheryl said.
Espresso and cappuccino drinks will be available along with salads, light appetizers and desserts. These kitchen selections might expand as well.
Were going to see how it goes, said Cheryl. We might expand and offer different things. Were going to use our first few months to get things going.
Wine Club and Music
The DeDuccas also plan to offer a wide selection of wine and might host a monthly wine club, Cheryl explained.
I have some bottles from a local Rhode Island winery called Sakonnet, she said. Its actually made in the town where we lived and its a great dessert wine. Well also have a variety of other wines and are planning to organize a wine club that meets every month and does tastings.
Infusions Lounge has the space to transform into a musical hot spot as well. Were going to try to have bands in here, said Cheryl. Were thinking of having music mid-week and on the weekends. Wed like to have jazz, blues, reggae and calypso.
And, if Kenny Chesney wants to come and play, hes more than welcome, she added.
Infused Vodka Martinis
As if the music, coffee and culinary treats arent enough of a temptation, Infusions Lounge will offer an incredible selection of house-made infused vodka martinis that should not be missed.
I would say that our signature drink is the jolly rancher, said Cheryl, the mixologist behind the cocktails. I first made the jolly rancher in the states where I used to bartend. I wanted to make something that tasted really good and was fun to drink.
Cheryls jolly rancher martini is not just a cleverly composed cocktail with the right amount of cranberry and pineapple juices. She steeps the vodka and always uses Stoli in actual jolly ranchers and simple syrup.
This is a very popular drink and I think people are really going to like it here too, said Cheryl.
Other martinis that will be available at Infusions Lounge include lemoncello, green apple made with apples, not the fake apple drink mix and a cinnamon-laced hot tamale.
300 Martini Options
I know about 300 martinis and if someone wants something else, we can figure it out, said Cheryl. I make all of the infusions myself with natural ingredients. Some of the infusions can take up to a month to steep to perfection.
And the pours will be ample, served up in 10-ounce martini glasses. The verdict so far?
Its more than I thought, said Cheryl. Its what I pictured and more. Its really coming together.
The DeDuccas are waiting on a few pieces of equipment and hoping to be able to open for business on August 1.
Anyone who enjoys great food and drinks in a lush and laid-back atmosphere, should check out the Infusions Lounge. To make sure that everything is on schedule, call the restaurant at 776-9770.