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BLACKBEARD'S, NOW AN INN, TO REOPEN SATURDAY

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The old Blackbeard's Hotel and the restaurant on its property, both closed since last July, reopen Saturday night as the new Blackbeard's Inn under combined ownership and management.
For those with fond memories of the "old days," the best news may be that the restaurant's piano bar will once again feature live musical entertainment seven nights a week. Nightly through Oct. 27, from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., pianist Richard Berman will offer his repertoire of cabaret stylings on the baby grand.
Another special attraction will be an ongoing exhibition of paintings and drawings by local artist Madeleine Meehan, known for her "Mostly Music Art" drawings of performing artists at work. Meehan will be at the restaurant Saturday evening to discuss her work with guests.
Other than that, no special festivities are planned for opening night, co-owner David Abers says. For the remainder of this month, the restaurant will serve only dinner, he says; then in November it will add lunch six days a week and brunch on Sunday.
Abers, who purchased Blackbeard's Inn with St. John residents Craig and Amy Van Skaik in May, said he was much enamored of the "old" Blackbeard's and wanted to "capture the whole ambience" it once had. He feels that the renovation and restoration work has accomplished that and gone a bit farther, enhancing the attractions — notably the property centerpiece, the historic stone structure known as Blackbeard's Tower.
Now guests can climb up inside the tower, which dates from the late 1600s, and a waterfall tumbles from its height into the renovated swimming pool below. The property also sports new awnings, a new wrought-iron fence and completely renovated guest rooms.
Under the direction of chef Calvin Francis, a native of Antigua, the menu emphasizes "coastal Caribbean cuisine."
Beginning Oct. 28 and continuing through November, vocalist Margie Hobbs will be the featured entertainer, accompanied by Berman on piano and Albert Smith on guitar.
Abers says Meehan's work "fits in nicely" with the restaurant's contemporary Caribbean theme. The paintings she is displaying there are colorful images of a local jazz jam, mocko jumbie stilt dancers, steelpan players and Caribbean and Afro-Caribbean dancers.
For years, into the mid-'90s, Blackbeard's piano lounge was "the" place to go to hear live jazz, with off-island performers booked throughout much of the year by then-owners Bob Harrington and Henrique Konzen.
After Hurricane Marilyn in 1995, local restaurateur Patricia LaCorte took over the lounge and dining room, christening the new operation Cafe Lulu. After closing on the purchase of the property in May, the new Bluebeard's ownership quickly moved to take control of the food and beverage operations themselves.
Reservations are requested for dinner and may be made by calling 776-1234.

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