March 11, 2015


Virgin Islands Nice

Harvey’s Restaurant in St. Croix is, in most every sense, a classic Caribbean eatery. The mom-and-pop operation on Company Street in downtown Christiansted serves up island specialties like stew conch and fish in creole sauce with no paper menus, no AC, and lots of TLC. Like any Caribbean restaurant worth its peppa, Harvey’s makes its own fiery, homemade hot sauceโ€”bright orange stuff (stored in old Cruzan rum bottles) capable of bringing a hellfire of sweats to anyone who dares get too liberal with their pour.

But Harvey’s is different from its neighbors in one very notable respectโ€”besides for its well-above-average renditions of the aforementioned staples, that is. It doubles as a shrine to St. Croix’s own superhero: basketball star Tim Duncan. One is confronted with the heroics of the NBA’s gentle giant from the moment they arrive at Harvey’s. A mural on the outside of the building commemorates his 1998 Rookie of the Year Award. Inside, news clippings on the walls document Duncan’s on-court accomplishments. Personal photographs show him at home in St. Croix, where he spent his first 18 years before heading to North Carolina to attend Wake Forest University.

It’s a fitting tribute. Duncan, who at age 38 led the San Antonio Spurs to a fifth NBA title this past June, is St. Croix’s best-known export since Cruzan Rum. As local politician Vargrave Richards once said of Duncan, known for his unassuming demeanor on and off the court: “His laid-back attitude is the embodiment of the people of St. Croix, doing things without fanfare and hoopla.”

Harvey’s tribute is personal, though. Proprietor and chef Sarah Harvey helped raise the future NBA superstar Duncan, after his biological mother, Ione, died when he was 14. The Big Fundamental (as Duncan has been dubbed on account of his meat-and-potatoes playing style) even waited tables at the restaurant for a time.

Miss Harvey has been archiving Duncan’s career since it began at local high school, St. Dunstan’s Episcopal, and, on his visits home to St. Croix, he always stops in for a meal at Harvey’s. Duncan isn’t the only figure honored on the walls of Harvey’sโ€”St. Croix’s other NBA success story, Raja Bell, and Barack Obama are also given spaceโ€”but Harvey’s is definitely his place.

Scroll through Martei Korley’s photo series below for an inside look at Harvey’s, and click here to read more stories from our Virgin Islands Nice series spotlighting music, life and culture in the USVI: