If you suffer from FOMO, then you’ve probably already been to IWAS @ The Bar, Anguilla’s newest and trendiest spot, attracting troves of Millennials and Gen Xers Wednesday to Sunday. One of the few businesses to emerge during the clutches of the financial chokehold of COVID-19, IWAS @ The Bar offers locals an escape from the stresses of the adequately coined ‘new normal’.
Proprietor of Island Wine & Spirits Mirabelle West is no stranger to metamorphosis having reinvented her plans in the face of adversity several times over the course of her career. The original idea behind the IWAS @ The Bar space (located in the nostalgic location of Vista Supermarket) was a vision of fine French cheeses, small bites for take-out or cosy dine-in, and a selection of house wines. That plan was quickly redrawn in March when COVID-19 forced Anguilla’s government to make a decision to close the country’s borders. No foreign clientele meant the market became (for the first time since the rise of the tourist industry) on-islanders only.
With the influx of hotels and usual hangouts closing, IWAS @ The Bar offered a new platform not only for locals to find entertainment, but also created job opportunities for many who had suddenly found themselves out of work. IWAS @ The Bar was able to provide employment to experienced waitstaff and other high-end hospitality workers as well as DJs, boasting a different one every night (visit their IG to see the line up).
The development of IWAS @ The Bar was an organic journey where Mirabelle used transparent communication on her social platforms throughout the opening process to garner feedback from the public. These comments moulded the night spot and what we now know as the chicest grunge vibe in Anguilla was formed.
The decor was largely inspired by the Wynwood Art District in Miami, iconic for its graffiti street art and deco pops of colour. This atmosphere was created in IWAS @ The Bar through the re-purposing of graphic art originally created for Mirabelle’s 2019 Summer Jumpstart concert. Upcycling continued with the use of wooden industrial spools and palette boards to fashion lounge areas and dining nooks, all created under the direction of Mirabelle’s father, Richard West. Original graffiti art by Adam Garlicki covers the other surface real estate offering superb photo ops for aesthetic-loving club goers.
A business partnership with Ethnik Club Cuisine completed the evolution of a place in Anguilla where international dishes can be eaten past typical kitchen closing hours. The team at Ethnik Club Cuisine tailored their menu to allow Anguillians to taste the globe from the deck of IWAS @ The Bar, offering sushi, tacos, and tandoori chicken alongside more familiar favourites like sliders and wings. Menu specials change monthly to add to the culinary travel itinerary.
The absence of service charge paired with affordable price points means you can enjoy a date night out for under $50. Between 6pm and 10pm, IWAS @ The Bar has the atmosphere of a tapas joint, but reveals itself as a true nightclub from 10pm onwards. If you’re looking for more exclusivity, VIP rooms are available for bottle service, private staff and catering.
Mirabelle always has something else in the works, however, and disclosed her 2021 plans to use the space behind the building for a food truck dispensing breakfast and lunch options with a grab-and-go Manhattan eatery vibe. The name? Struck, from the Anguillian dialect term for “gluttonous”. This aptly monikered gourmet vehicle is in the pipeline along with more immediate movements like the digital masterpieces that are IWAS/YHNG Virtual DJ nights, a Halloween party, YHNG Breast Cancer Benefit, Jazz Night featuring Kyiv Edwards and Kamal Vanterpool, and the highly-anticipated Glitteratti New Year’s Eve party.
Filling the current void for contemporary nightlife in Anguilla, IWAS @ The Bar is a new generation of the space many knew as the Beer Garden with its barrel style tables, Mirrors with the appropriately reflective walls, Drifters, or as I visited in my youth, All Nations. Mirabelle’s innovative ideas and the popularity that IWAS @ The Bar is rapidly gaining means that this iteration, with its specialty cocktails and artistic food, is definitely here to stay.