On any given Sunday, barefoot tourists and locals of Providenciales mingle at an airy, lemon-colored building facing the beach of Grace Bay. On the restaurant deck, people chat at the bar, families watch their kids on the beach over lunch, and a swimsuit-clad group plays volleyball not far from the water’s edge. Officially, this is the Flamingo Café. For the restaurant’s Sunday faithful, it’s simply Rickie’s.
Since 2005, Rickie’s has provided a haven for people of all ages to wind down with the weekend and enjoy traditional Turks and Caicos food. The sunny building with pastel panels and wooden deck flooring offers a lively, carefree environment for its patrons: a true representation of its owners, Rickie and Stacy Clarke.
“It reflects who we are,” says Stacy, dressed in a bright yellow polka-dotted blouse. “I’m not a dull person, and neither is he, so we wanted to keep it vibrant.”
Vibrant it is, but don’t mistake Flamingo Café for just a beach bar. Rickie, 43, learned to cook as a child (his mother, Oseta Clarke, is the best chef in the Turks and Caicos, Stacy says) and has worked as a chef for most of his adult life. For six years, Rickie worked as sous chef for Beaches, where he also received formal culinary training. He also spent a year as personal chef for the Turks and Caicos premier.
Rickie, who was born and raised in Grand Turk, most enjoys making soups: okra, split pea, pumpkin – the list goes on. And as a true island boy, he can prepare any fish, lobster or conch dish to perfection. It’s only fitting that one of the most popular dishes on Rickie’s menu is the curry grouper.
“It’s just my passion. I just love it,” Rickie says. “I love when it all comes together.”
And Rickie isn’t the only cook at his restaurant. Stacy is a master of conch fritters (better than her husband’s, they both say), and all five of their staff members – Herna, Denise, Piti, Jamie and Donique – have been trained to cook anything on the menu.
Rickie’s staff members are friendly and attentive, and they quickly learn what their repeat customers want without even being asked.
“What we really appreciate about our staff is that they know their customer,” Rickie says. “They’re always in a good mood. The staff is a very important part of this business.”