It’s been a rollercoaster ride for Elizabeth Service-Burley since she took over Bella Blu and Pie Whole in Frenchtown on St. Thomas. After two hurricanes in her first year in business and a pandemic that closed many restaurants for good, Service-Burley has mastered the art of flexibility. In the newest twist, she has turned Bella Blu into an extension of Pie Whole, with a tasting lounge featuring Leatherback Brewing Company beers. The grand opening is Thursday.
“I was looking to make a change after COVID because Bella Blu didn’t really bounce back,” said Service-Burley. “Pie Whole has always been a local favorite and we have won the best beer bar award several years in a row, so beer has been a big focus, other than our brick oven pizza. We were Leatherback’s first account when they came over from St. Croix, so I reached out to them to see if they wanted to make some sort of a partnership with me, and so it all just came together.”
“Frenchtown is an historically awesome spot to socialize and Pie Whole has been an established business in that area,” said Aaron Hutchins, one of the five partners operating Leatherback Brewing Company. Leatherback was established on St. Croix in 2017. They expanded with a brewery and tasting room on St. Thomas in November. “We are just pleased that Liz and her businesses are happy to bring us on as a featured product and we’re happy to help support her. We strive strongly to engage in the greater Virgin Islands community in many different ways, so we’re looking forward to having more of a presence in Frenchtown and working with her and the neighbors and the community down there.”
Although customers will still be able to order their Pie Whole favorites, including their selection of craft beers, the menu will be expanded with more of a gastro pub style to pair well with the Leatherback beers, and they will even incorporate some of the brews into the food.
The original Pie Whole, said Service-Burley, will be the place to pick up to-go orders and retail items. She obtained her CBD license and will be selling some CBD products at Pie Whole as well. There will be plenty of outdoor seating, as well as an indoor seating area in the original Bella Blu, which now sports a new teal and gray décor, big screen TVs, color changing lighting and a stunning new sand and sea-themed resin bar made by Derek Quetel.
“We just want to bring some fun back into Frenchtown with live music out on the patio, open air, just a good feeling. Now that we can go out and socialize a bit, everyone is looking for a place to go out,” Service-Burly said. “I just feel that especially for the locals, we don’t have much for us to go to on St. Thomas. There’s very little that I see happening and everybody is working so hard to accommodate the influx in tourism we’ve had, when do we get a break? You’ve got to reinvent and see what’s needed. There’s a lot of fine dining in Frenchtown and I wanted to break out of that box and give the community what they remember about Frenchtown, the fun, the music, the dancing, making it a place that I would want to be if I was going out.”
Service-Burley also wants to see this as a place where the community can come together for charity events. She hopes to partner with nonprofit organizations and those fundraising on their behalf to give back to the community.
“I’m so grateful I’m still in business with the pandemic, and the hurricanes coming with us less than a year of being in business,” she said. “I’m not afraid to re-design. It all came together the right way at the right time. We just want to create a really positive, interesting place that people can visit to add to their memories of their vacation here on St. Thomas. I’m just happy for what’s coming, because it’s been a tough year and a half for all of us. It’s the right time to make the change.”
For more information, call 340-642-5074 or visit www.piewholepizza.com.
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