(Delmarvanow.com) -- Mix a dash of Caribbean Tiki bar inspiration with a splash of Chincoteague Island beach culture and you have the ChincoTiki Caribbean Bar and Grill.
One of the newest eateries to hit the island opened in late July and is looking to serve up "Americanized Caribbean" fare in a welcoming atmosphere. The small building off of Main Street houses a kitchen with a transformed shed next door that will become a Tiki bar very soon. Customers can enjoy their food and drinks on the man-made beach at various tables and beach chairs.
Owner Jordan Townsend is a Salisbury local, but started going to Chincoteague as a child with his parents, staying in the family's trailer at Maddox Family Campground. As he got older, Townsend continued to visit to the island.
Last summer, he worked at the now-closed The Jackspot and heard from locals how they missed the old island feel: plenty of outdoor space to relax with good food, drinks and company.
While locals were expressing the island was missing something, Townsend realized he also felt a void, and ChincoTiki was born.
“It was just seeing a need the people of Chincoteague wanted and trying to fulfill that need,” he explained.
The name ChincoTiki came from Townsend's love of the Caribbean and Tiki bars. He said he takes a yearly trip to a different island with family and friends. The atmosphere at various vacation bars fueled the inspiration for his own place.
“That was the inspiration, how can I bring that to here," he said.
ChincoTiki's menu is a fusion of Caribbean and American favorites. While the restaurant serves a shrimp po'boy, Townsend said he mostly wanted to stay away from seafood and focus more on burgers and chicken dishes, which he felt was lacking on the island.
“Everybody around here does a lot of seafood. I’m not trying to beat people who have done seafood for years and years," he said. "You can’t compete with people who know what they’re doing.”
The burger and chicken dishes can be prepared simply with little seasoning, but customers can increase the kick with ChincoTiki's jerk seasoning.
Currently, ChincoTiki's cocktail list is limited to various flavors of crushes, beer and a select mix of liquors. But Townsend is working on finalizing permits for his Tiki bar, which will allow him to increase craft cocktail offerings. He hopes to open the bar by this weekend.
Townsend started looking for the perfect location last November. He found this small building tucked beside Don's Seafood Restaurant and Chatties Lounge. The restaurant started as bare walls and roof.
When Townsend signed the lease in March, he prepared for an entire kitchen build-out starting in late April. The plumbing, kitchen equipment and hood system were all put in by him and his team.
“We put a lot of work into that," he said.
Townsend brought in the Tiki bar behind the building.
The eatery's backyard was previously concrete and weeds, but Townsend transformed it into a man-made beach with sand, wooden tables and beach chairs. There's even beach toys for children to play with while the adults enjoy the water view.
Townsend has an extended resume in the restaurant business starting at an early age of 14 at Dayton's Restaurant in Salisbury. Now at age 30, he also has experience working for The Dough Roller, Blue Fin Bar & Grill and other establishments.
During the school year he is an 8th grade math teacher at Wicomico Middle School.
“It’s been years of either full-time or summer work in restaurants in pretty much every possible position that you have in a restaurant, and now I’ve checked owner off the list,” he said.
Townsend said ownership is rewarding, but without his support system of family and friends, it would be incredibly difficult to keep going with all of the moving parts that come with a new business.
“It’s really a lot to handle if you don’t have great support,” he said.
But, there's something better than being your own boss, according to Townsend. The owner is active in his restaurant, working in the kitchen and getting to know customers' faces. During the beginning of the school year, he plans to drive down after school while the business is open full-time through September.
ChincoTiki will transition to weekends only in October and then close in November or December to reopen in May.
“I’m able to have the kind of establishment I’ve always wanted," Townsend said.
If you go:
What: ChincoTiki Caribbean Bar and Grill
Where: 4121 Main St.
When: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., daily
Contact: (757) 336-1111, Facebook.com/ChincoTiki