CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — When it opens in April, the owners of the new Calico Jack’s Cafe will hope that they succeeded in bringing the culture and cuisine of the Caribbean islands to downtown Charles Town.
The brainchild of co-owner Sandee L. Niles lives in the murals she designed to give diners “the feeling of walking into an 18th-century pirate’s cove.”
“When you come in the front door, the first thing you see is the dock,” she said.
Her theme is based on Queen Anne’s Revenge, the ship sailed by the notorious 18th-century pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard.
The idea continues along the floor, on the sail rigging on the ceiling, and on more walls showing the inside and outside of the ship.
“I tried to model it after the movie ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’” she said. “There are 45 feet of murals in here.”
Calico Jack’s Cafe at 132 W. Washington St., the space formerly occupied by The Mediterranean Restaurant, will seat 36 diners for lunch and dinner prepared with “home-grown recipes,” Niles said.
Her co-owners, all Charles Town residents, are her husband, Mike W. Niles, and Alyssa LeVasseur and her husband, Jean.
Sandee Niles and Alyessa LeVasseur are volunteer firefighters at Citizens Fire Co. in Charles Town. Mike Niles is a U.S. Department of State security contractor at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and Jean LeVasseur manages a restaurant in Ranson, W.Va.
The nationalities of the four owners are French-Canadian, Puerto Rican, British and French Basque.
Jean is the only one of the four co-owners with restaurant experience. He and Sandee will do the cooking.
“We saw the need for another family-friendly, affordable restaurant in Charles Town,” Sandee said.
Mike Niles said the partners expect to spend about $40,000 before the restaurant opens. The cost includes interior renovations, new tables and chairs, wiring and plumbing, and a new kitchen.
In February, the four went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. An idea to enhance the restaurant hit them on the head while watching the Mardi Gras parade, Mike Niles said.
“We were standing there when strings of beads were being thrown down at us by people on the floats,” he said. “They were hitting us on the head. We didn’t know it was a Mardi Gras tradition.”
The thought occurred to them about building a pirate’s trunk for the restaurant and fill it with beads from Mardi Gras for children who come in with their families.
“They were throwing beads to everyone, so we yelled that we were from West Virginia, and they started to throw more at us,” Mike Niles said.