The V.I. Port Authority has enlisted the help of the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs in its assault on the popular local spot Patrick’s West Indian Delight, according to the proprietor’s daughter, Julia Joseph.
VIPA has been in a years-long legal battle with Patrick’s owner Patrick Joseph to get the eatery kicked out of the three parking spots it has occupied in the U.S. Customs Parking Lot for more than 30 years.
After Joseph refused to vacate the premises in October 2005, VIPA took the entrepreneur to V.I. Superior Court, where the case was dismissed by Judge Brenda Hollar.
Another Suit From VIPA
Not backing down, VIPA served Joseph another notice to quit the premises by December 2006. Once again Joseph remained open in the spot he has operated for three decades and found himself in court facing VIPA officials for a second time.
This time around, V.I. Superior Court Judge Leon Kendall ruled the case was being entertained by the wrong judicial body and should instead be heard in civil court.
VIPA is now appealing that ruling and the case remains “in the very early stages of the appeals process,” according to VIPA spokesperson Marc Stridiron.
Joseph and his family were expecting to continue running their business as usual until the appeal was heard in district court. That intention came to a halt, however, when Julia Joseph tried to renew their business license.
“I went to the DLCA office at the Battery to renew our regular business license we’ve had for over 30 years,” said Julia Joseph. “I paid and we were supposed to get it in the mail. We never received it so I went over to the St. Thomas office to see what was going on because no one called me.”
No More Rum
After inquiring about her license, Julia Joseph was handed a Tavern B, instead of a Tavern A, license which only allows Patrick’s West Indian Delight to serve beer and wine.
“I always had a Tavern A license from donkey years,” said Julia Joseph. “Now this lady was handing me a Tavern B license. So now I can’t sell hard liquor, and I can only sell beer or wine.”
When she inquired what the problem was, she was told to call DLCA Commissioner Kenrick Robertson, Julia Joseph explained.
“I was told to talk to the commissioner and I have called him and left messages and never heard anything from him,” she said. “I’ve been going back and forth to St. Thomas and I am still getting nothing.”
Now the Josephs are hoping to get their day in court and the Governor’s ear, according to Julia Joseph.
“We’re filing a grievance and we want a hearing to be able to speak our minds about this,” she said. “We want to talk to Governor John deJongh. He said he wanted to help small businesses, and stop the hardship of having to go to St. Thomas all the time, but he’s not doing it.”
“He promised us something and I want it,” Julia Joseph added. “I’m not happy with him. The political thing is not working on St. John.”
All the Josephs want is to be left alone to run their business as they have been for the past 30 years, explained Julia Joseph.
“I would like for them to stop harassing us and leave us alone because it’s putting stress on my father who has been a business owner for decades,” she said. “I want them to give us the right license that we need to run our business how it is supposed to be run.”
“We’ve been doing this for 30 years and all of a sudden it’s a problem,” Julia Joseph added. “It doesn’t make sense.”
DLCA Commissioner Robertson did not return St. John Tradewinds telephone calls requesting comment.