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Pizza Pi, USVI

Lana Hawk

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? As a teacher that’s a question I often ask my students, but rarely ask myself or my peers. We assume that getting older and being an adult too often means working at a job that we don’t really like simply because it pays the bills. Or worse yet, working at job just because we got a degree in a particular field never giving a thought as to whether or not it’s a good fit. I am lucky because I have come across a number of people throughout my life who are making their own way, not stuck doing something because “that’s what you are supposed to do.” Friends who are starting businesses, freelancing, quitting traditional jobs to make their own. Recently, my husband and I made the trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) to see a childhood friend and her husband. They are two of those people making their own way and making it happen.

To make a long story short, my friend Tara got a degree in education, transformed into a charter boat chef, turned engineer/architect of boats, turned pizza boat chef, turned general contractor, and most recently a vacation rental owner/operator. Sasha, her husband, is an MIT grad, turned charter boat captain and sailing extraordinaire, turned engineer/architect of boats, turned pizza boat owner/operator, turned fund manager, and recently a vacation rental owner/operator. They ran charter boats for awhile then dreamed up the idea to start a pizza boat in the USVI. So, they bought a boat and custom designed and built out the interior to give them living space and a full kitchen complete with two pizza ovens. Out of their extraordinary effort emerged their creation: Pizza Pi. They didn’t study in school how to re-design boats. Neither one had ever run a restaurant, but they learned and struggled, and self-taught their way through the process. They worked their butts off and put in some major sweat equity into Pi and ended up with something unique. How cool is that?

We had the opportunity to spend time with them this February and see Pi, in action. We spent time snorkeling in Christmas Cove, touring the boat, and stuffing our faces with some of the best pizza we have ever had. Seriously. It’s so good. I highly recommend the El Cubano and the Banana Chocolate Snack Stix. And did I mention it is the #1 restaurant in St. Thomas on Trip Advisor? A well deserved ranking. Following the first season of Pi, they bought a condo on land and took on a full renovation themselves…while pregnant with their first child. They converted the condo into a studio apartment and 3 bedrooms of rentable space designed perfectly by Tara. The link to their property is below. Check it out and if you are ever in St. Thomas it is the perfect location for a great stay with restaurants and a beach a short walk away.

I love seeing people dream big, work hard, and live their unique life. Tara and Sasha may slow down a bit now that they have a little one, but they will always view life a little differently, making their own way. It is especially sweet that I’ve known them for a good long while (or my entire life). If you want to read more on these crazy kids, here are a few resources for you:

    •    Building Pi Blog

    •    Chicago Tribune article

    •    Trip Advisor: Pizza Pi

    •    Rental listing: here, here, and here