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(Posted 8:30 a.m., July 12)
New eatery provides Petrie Island visitors a little Caribbean flavour
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Since it first opened as a park and public beach in 2005, Petrie Island has lacked a proper eating establishment where patrons could relax, enjoy a drink or two, and have a decent meal.

There has been the odd food vendor who has set up shop near the lifeguard station to sell everything from hotdogs and hamburgers to wood-fired pizza, but they were all temporary, lasting only a summer or two.

Bananas Beach Grill and Rum Shack is the first attempt at a semi-permanent eatdery and it's licensed, something no one else has been able to provide.

The outdoor patio and grill is an extension of Bananas Caribbean Grill and Takeout in the Sobeys mall at Trim and Innes and their menu has most of the same items including jerk chicken, roti and Jamaican patties along with more traditional beach fare like hot dogs and french fries.

The patio can accommodate as much as 100 people who can enjoy a libation or two under thatched canopies including their signature drink, the Petrie Islander.

On Friday, they had their grand opening, complete with a steel band and a long list of dignitaries including Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

Bananas' co-owner Sandra Ferguson said the outdoor bar and grill is a perfect fit for Petrie Island which has been in need of a proper eating establishment, where patrons can sit down and enjoy a meal, for years.

"What could be more perfect for place like this with a beautiful beach and wonderful park than a taste of the Caribbean," said Ferguson, who, along with her fellow owners David and Trevor Mason, organize Carivibe every year on the island. "This is something we've been thinking about doing for the past couple of years, so when the opportunity came up to actually do something, we jumped at it."

Orléans Ward Coun. Bob Monette is hopeful the opening of Bananas on the Beach will mark a new beginning for the park and public beach which has suffered from the city's policy to publicize excess sewage outflows everytime the city experiences a heavy rainfall.

The truth is that the water quality at Petrie Island is no different than other beaches in the city or municipal beaches elsewhere in the province, and an increase in the number of visits to the beach and park shows the place may have finally gotten over the hump.

If nothing else, Bananas Outdoor Grill and Rum Shack will give visitors a chance to enjoy a fantastic Caribbean-flavour meal along with their favourite cocktail while soaking up the sunshine and the cool breeze which often blows across the island.

In fact, if you close your eyes for a second you can easily imagine yourself sitting at an outdoor patio at your favourite island resort. Bananas Outdoor Grill and Rum Shack will allow its patrons to escape the rigours of suburban life if only for an hour or two, and its less than a 10 minute drive away from most of the neighbourhoods in Orléans.

East end councillors Bob Monette, Stephen Blais and Rainer Bloess were joined by Mator Jim Watson on Friday for the grand opening of Bananas Beach Grill & Rum Shack on Petrie Island. Fred Sherwin Photo

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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