CORAL BAY — Nael Amhad made his decision to open what he calls “a mini St. John Market” in Coral Bay before the St. John Coastal Zone Management (CZM) committee hearing in August on plans for the controversial Coral Bay mega-yacht marina.
“I’m taking over Lilly’s,” the discreet grocery maven told St. John Tradewinds in early August, shortly after that former grocery tenant vacated the retail space on the second level in the Coccoloba commercial complex overlooking Coral Bay harbor and the potential future home of the controversial Coral Harbor mega-yacht marina.
“The marina is coming,” Amhad said self-assuredly of the major factor in his decision to add a fourth store on St. John to his St. John Market, Dolphin Market and Dolphin Market Wholesale.
Amhad had renovations underway and new coolers being moved into the space by early September – before a CZM vote on the plans for the marina in the Coral Harbor directly across the street from the store – as he continued his effort to dominate the St John grocery market in competition with the island’s Starfish Market in The Marketplace commercial complex in Enighed.
The Coccoloba commercial complex is under contract to the developers planning the potential marina and Ahmad is counting on its construction to support his investment in a modern grocery store for the community. He plans for the store to be open by November.
From Pine Peace to Island Grocery Dominance
Amhad started in business on St. John as a partner in the Pine Peace Market before opening Dolphin Market on the historic site of the island’s first supermarket which was opened by gadabout Steve Black in the 20th century in the Albert Willis-owned pink building which towers over the Cruz Bay rotary intersection of a half-dozen federally-numbered island roads.
“People like a clean store,” Nael said, succinctly revealing one of the keys to his grocery retailing success on St. John with Dolphin Market and Dolphin Wholesale in Cruz Bay and his St. John Market on South Shore Road adjacent to the Westin Resort which has proven popular with guests at the timeshare resort and residents of the island’s south shore neighborhoods.