Hanging outside Amalia Café in Palm Passage, a small sign resembling a family crest reads: “Meson Amalia.” In Spanish, “Meson” translates to a small restaurant, café or tavern offering drinks and meals in a welcoming atmosphere. How perfect!
The evolution of Amalia Café is rooted in the creative talents and undaunted efforts of proprietors Helga and Randolph Maynard.
Nearly three decades ago, the duo opened Pita Express, a popular quick-serve place on Back Street featuring tasty pita pocket sandwiches, quiche, salads, and desserts. At that time, a number of bars and eateries lined the narrow roadway parallel to Main Street.
“Before long, we outgrew that location,” said Randolph.
Known locally to many by his last name, ‘Maynard,’ he added, “We needed to expand. When space in Palm Passage became available, I had a vision. I knew what I wanted to do.”
He faced numerous challenges including the fact that for decades, eateries in Palm Passage served strictly during daylight hours. But Maynard was passionate about offering dinner as well as lunch in the heart of downtown Charlotte Amalie.
With a thoughtful smile, he explained, “We had a hard start. Our opening was September 6, 2001, just a few days before the 9/11 attack.”
Happily, hard work and determination were rewarded — and satisfied customers are the beneficiaries. Today at Amalia Café, you can enjoy a taste of Spain — night or day — in a charming open-air restaurant offering a varied selection of Spanish favorites, tapas, and entrée specials as well as sangria, classic cocktails, and wine by the glass or bottle. Of course, traditional Paella Valenciana — a dish of saffron rice cooked with fish stock, chicken, calamari, shrimp, mussels and clams — is always a favorite.
The restaurant has countless charming touches. Stone walls showcase black and white island imagery by celebrated St. Thomas photographer Ray Miles.
By the way, the welcoming bar in the center of Palm Passage is part of the operation and Pita Express also is incorporated onto the scene. In addition to an adjacent seating area, Pita Express offers take-out, too.
From Main Street, the path to Amalia Café is a tree-lined, cobblestone passageway with intriguing shops all along the way. At night, entry is limited to waterfront access.
A peek at Trip Advisor comments revealed endless accolades such as,
“Best dinner I had on the Island. It’s a quiet, romantic Spanish restaurant where the waiters were so attentive and the food absolutely delicious.” Well said.
The enterprising Maynard family — including 20-year-old college student Ammiel, 18-year-old Abiela who is currently studying at Lehigh University, and middle-schooler Abella — are deservedly proud to be celebrating Amalie Café’s 22nd year delighting St. Thomas residents and visitors.