Feb. 20, 2006 – The idea for Down Home Fish Fry came from a simple observation, said owner Ishaq Abdul Kabir. "We're on an island and there's no fish and chips place."
So, almost a year and a half ago, he opened the fast food restaurant on Centerline Road across from Kentucky Fried Chicken in Sunny Isles.
The restaurant is located across the street from the largest shopping center on St. Croix and close to businesses like WAPA, Innovative and Juan Luis Hospital.
Business has been good, Kabir said. "Our regular customers really love us."
The menu boasts four different types of fish – snapper, grouper, whiting and tilapia – lightly fried with a seasoning that keeps customers coming back.
"What separates us from the rest is the seasoning," Kabir said. "Anyone can fry fish." "We cook with love," he said when asked about the special ingredients. "It's like you are eating at home, like your mom and dad are cooking for you."
Down Home Fish Fry also serves jumbo and popcorn shrimp, French fries, hush puppies, fried cauliflower and okra.
Top off your lunch or dinner with a local drink of Caribbean cherry, passion fruit, lemonade or tamarind juice and you have a satisfying meal.
As a young business man, 30-year-old Kabir said doing business in the Virgin Islands is not without its problems.
He said the government needs to assist prospective business owners by centralizing its operations. Kabir also said it's not unusual for vendors to be out of essential supplies.
"Businesses who don't operate like a business affect other businesses," Kabir said, adding that without consistency he'd lose his customers' trust.
For example if a customer wants an item on the menu but the vendor is out of that product, the customer goes away unsatisfied.
Kabir, who was born on St. Croix, raised in Tobago, and attended college in Washington, D.C., said he is proud of the reputation his business has acquired since opening.
He said he has a good following from people visiting from St. Thomas. "They tell me that their first stop after getting off the Seaplane is my restaurant," Kabir said.
Life is not all business for Kabir, who practices Capoeria, the African-Brazilian mixture of martial arts, dance and gymnastics. He also dabbles in fencing and Tai Chi.
"I have an active lifestyle," Kabir said, "Life is something to learn."
As his business moves into its second year, Kabir has high hopes for the future. "We will expand, God willing," he said.
"We're not just a one hit wonder. We haven't come this far to give up. We are here to stay."
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