Lou Schwartz


 By - Nancy Terrell (reprinted from Compass - 2001)


Every sailor in the Virgin Islands knows Lou Schwartz, owner of the famous/infamous Jolly Roger Restaurant, Bar & Inn in West End, Tortola.  Lou has hosted more regattas, entertained us with more great blues, country, rock and reggae performers and sponsored more fund raising events for his country than practically anyone in the Virgins.  For this reason, Schwartz was given true recognition by the “Powers that Be” in the BVI.  He was awarded the Business Person of the Year Award in Hospitality as awarded by the prestigious BVI Chamber of Commerce & Hotel Association (CCHA) at their gala 13th Annual Awards Dinner hosted by the Bitter End Yacht Club on Saturday, November 24th.  The formal event was well supported by several hundred guests from Anegada, Tortola, Virgin Gorda and St. Thomas.


Awards Committee Co-Chairman Franka Pickering quoted that "This may have been the most successful awards dinner to date as 2001 CCHA awards were presented in 13 separate areas."  Schwartz is on the board as Program Chairman for the Chamber of Commerce and was co-host with Pickering for the Awards Banquet.  In a history that is as interesting as it is influential, the Hotel and Commerce Association became The Chamber of Commerce & Hotel Association almost two years ago when they received official Chamber of Commerce status from the International Chamber Board.  Schwartz was elected to the Board of Directors before the combining of the two agencies. His position is a yearly position, of which he has served two years; the members of the CC elect each member on a yearly basis. The award was presented by Dr. Fred Coville, a member of the board representing the medical community, who is a plastic surgeon at the famed Bougainvillea Clinic in Tortola.


Schwartz was elated at the honor, "I was quite pleased when I found out that I was to be honored by receiving this award.  In a business when 10 - 14 hour workdays are the norm, as opposed to the exception, the satisfaction and the return, more often than not, is in our dedication to pleasing our customers in the true sense of hospitality as opposed to receiving monetary compensations."


Schwartz was born in Brooklyn, New York, and received his schooling there.  He is a graduate of Ithaca College in Health & Physical Education with emphasis in both team sports and coaching.  He received his Master of Science (MS) Degree in Health & Physical Education from Brooklyn College and upon graduation in 1966 began his versatile career as a teacher and coaching sports in Nassau County, Long Island.  In 1973, Schwartz left teaching and took a job in a textile related field in NYC.  Then

in '81, along with Greg Buttle, a professional football player from the New York Jets Football Team, opened a restaurant & sports club in Uniondale, Long Island that was highly successful.  He tells me, “We featured sports celebrities who would come as patrons and those who came to hob-nob with them.  In ‘85, I opened my own restaurant in Long Beach, Long Island, called Between the Ribs and referred to fondly as “The Ribs” just as my present restaurant & Bar The Jolly Roger is known affectionately throughout the Caribbean as the JR.  I came to the BVI in '73 as tourist and loved it.  I made probably thirty trips to these islands, over the next 17 years, before settling here permanently in 1991.


The JR was called The Buccaneers in the '80s.  I purchased it in '91.  It was closed and run down.  We gave it a new face and new heart and painted it in a multitude of wonderful Caribbean pastel colors.  Our opening night, Thanksgiving dinner '91, I had an "all you can eat pasta dinner" for the West End Yacht Club who had also just reunited as a yacht club with Carter Powell as Commodore.  At that time the JR became the official home of the WEYC.  At that time, I hosted Wednesday night races as well as Saturday races.  At this point, we host four out of the six annual WEYC races - the other two being hosted by Foxy.


It took a few years for the restaurant to evolve into the varied cuisine and quality that we presently enjoy.  There was a lot of hard work involved and my wife Kay, my partner in life, has assisted me all the way in developing our Inn as well as our restaurant.  In fact, she hand painted all of the Caribbean murals that are in our five rooms that make up the Inn.  Because all of this hard work, not only on our part but on behalf of our staff, it was especially gratifying to receive this award.  I have found in the BVI that its more important to learn how to do business than it is do actually learn about your business.”


Schwartz is an active racer in the BVI.  He was mainsheet trimmer for Marty Halpern on Ruffian from '93 - '97.  He then joined Pipe Dream, a Sirena 38, helmed by Peter Haycraft, as mainsheet trimmer and as such has competed in every international regatta in the past four years.  He has been active in the VISAR & Island Sloop Program and has hosted many fundraisers such as his annual Chili Cook-off during the Firecracker Regatta in July and his very successful fundraiser for Geoff Kennedy, a BVI youth that was shot and left paralysed, in St. Thomas.  Schwartz is as generous as he is successful having always given gift certificates for BVI regattas, Cedar School, Montessori School, KATS and a host of other local organizations.


Also representing the sailing community in the receiving of awards at the CCHA Banquet were:

* Captains Evermond Rabsatt & Warren Stout who received the Pioneer in Commerce Award for their dedication and expertise in sailing; their shipping companies that have assisted in the growth of the BVI.

* Vernon Soares received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his 30 years of supplying restaurants and hotels in the BVI with fish from the only long line fishing boats in the BVI.

* VISAR received the Humanitarian Award. Since 1988, Virgin Island Search and Rescue has helped and assisted over 1,800 persons and saved 175 lives.  This organization is totally voluntary.

* Sunsail Charters received the Environmental Award for their development in the environmental program “Crystal Green”, designed to utilize a combination of cutting edge technology and management to minimize the pollutive effect of yachting on the BVI environment.  This is the first program of this type to be launched by any yacht chartering company

* KATS - received the Community Service Award.  Kids and the Sea was started by Tom Gerker some 11 years ago.  Since that time more than 300 children have attended the Basic Program.  KATS also has a scuba, sailing, boardsailing and swimming program.  More than 500 children have completed the swimming program.

* Laurence Penn received the Preservation of Culture Award.  He designed and built the first local speedboat from fiberglass, the Shooting Star.  He spent his life in practice as a shipwright at Trellis Bay Ship Yard and Tortola Yacht Services.

* Barbara Gerker received the CCHA Volunteer Award for her services as a founder of KATS, her role in the execution of the annual BVI Spring Regatta, for 3 years as representative of the marine services sector on the Board of CCHA and as the first Chairman of the CCHA BUY BVI Trade Show.

* Dennis McDonald also received the CCHA Volunteer Award as Director of Island Marine Outfitters.  A member of the Board of Directors of the CCHA for 8 years and a BVI resident for 28 he has served as Chairman of the BVI Spring Regatta Village Committee for the past 6 years and continues to represent the CCHA on governmental Committees.


It is truly an honor for all sailors within the BVI that nine of the thirteen awards were given to those within the marine community.  This shows the active part that the marine industry plays within the business and community aspects of these beautiful islands.