"After Hurricane Ivan, we decided we urgently needed a bar to socialise, have a drink and keep our sanity,"
- Magdalena Fielden, owner of True Blue Bay Boutique Resort
Magdalena Fielden, owner of the Dodgy Dock, tells us how her family-run business survived the threat of Hurricane Ivan and was rebuilt to become one of the Grenadines most iconic social spots - all while retaining the rustic charms and "dodgyness" of the temporary bar after which it is named.
TTG: Tell us about yourself - where did you grow up?
MF: My name is Magdalena Fielden, I was born and grew up in Mexico City. At 24, after graduating as an Architect from the Mexican University UNAM, I move to Baja California where I worked and sailed on charter yachts travelling from California to Mexico for several years.
I met my British husband Russ Fielden in Baja California who was working for a yacht charter company. We moved to the Caribbean in 1987, where we worked for The Moorings, a large yacht charter company. We opened and managed new charter operations including yachts, marinas, hotels, stores and restaurants in several Caribbean and South Pacific Islands.
TTG: How did you come to live in Grenada?
MF: In 1998, after getting married on the island of Anguilla and having our two beautiful daughters, we decided to settle down and see where our daughters could grow up happy, well-educated and safe, we had on our list the BVI and Grenada. While living in the BVI we had the opportunity to look at a place in Grenada, a beautiful plantation in the north of the island. We quickly decided that we had no experience as farmers!
However, while having lunch at True Blue Inn we realized that the Inn was bankrupt and for sale. We had a second look and couldn’t believe our eyes, it was the perfect place and on a beautiful location by the sea. A few weeks later we were the proud and very scared owners of a 7 room hotel with a little restaurant. 20 years later, “True Blue Bay” Boutique Resort has 70 rooms, a marina, spa, yoga studio, dive center and a very popular restaurant, Dodgy Dock. And our 2 daughters grew up very happy, have graduated from university and are both working at the resort.
TTG: Tell us about how you started Dodgy Dock
MF: After buying the hotel in 1998, one of our first projects was to move the small restaurant that was on the second floor to the water’s edge as the views and breeze of True Blue Bay are just fabulous. A few months later, after the restaurant was completed, we added a bar called Stuart’s Bar. The restaurant and bar quickly became a popular spot as we had a live music jam every Wednesday with local musicians, good cocktails, and ambiance with every sunset. For the first time Grenada had a Mexican food menu with the best margaritas in town.
"A few years later, September 2004, we suffered the force of hurricane Ivan, the bar was completely destroyed, the restaurant and hotel survived but the damage was substantial."
Two weeks after the hurricane, we decided we urgently needed a bar to socialise, have a drink and keep our sanity, so with the debris of the old Stuart’s bar and whatever else washed up on our shores, we built a shack bar and called it the Dodgy Dock.
A year later we managed to rebuild the bar and extend the restaurant, but we incorporated into the design the “dodgyness” of the temporary bar, making sure none of the walls or structure were straight and the decorations and fixture had a touch of funkiness, so we decided to keep the name Dodgy Dock. Of course when designing it we also kept under consideration taking the best advantage of the pristine views of True Blue Bay.
TTG: Tell us about your role at Dodgy Dock
MF: Our Resort and Dodgy Dock are family owned so we work as a team and play different roles on the business. My husband, Russ, looks after finances and development. My eldest daughter, Marie, looks after operations, my youngest daughter, Renatta, looks after our social media and I’m the creative marketing mind. So I’m always looking for something new and exciting to enhance our business, from new trends, design, colors and promotion, to thinking about menus and theme nights for the restaurant.
I also organize the Grenada Chocolate Fest and own the House of Chocolate, a mini museum chocolate shop in the capital St Georges. Along with my other responsibilities I am also the Honorary Consul to Grenada for Mexico.
TTG: What do you think makes Dodgy Dock popular on social media?
MF: We are very active on social media as the Dodgy Dock caters to the Grenadian community, students from the nearby university and visiting tourists, so we are always looking for fun and exciting posts to share and catch their attention. But also the restaurant location, views and design are fun, colourful and attractive to the eye which makes it easy to take great shots. We also organize local events like local Crafts Bazaars, Easter egg hunts, a Halloween parade and haunted house, music and dancing events with live bands as well as try to be a leader and community player especially when it comes to environmental conservation and sustainability.
TTG: What has been your best experience during your time at Dodgy Dock?
MF: Quite a few special occasions come to mind like the Cricket World Cup party in 2007 when we had up to 900 Australians and New Zealanders celebrate their teams with the players partying alongside, I meet an alligator hunter! Our yearly celebration of Earth Hour dining under a candle light, Sailing Festival and Chocolate Fest opening parties, but my favorite is the current “Street Food Wednesdays Nights” where our chefs and other local cooks set up food stands and sell a delicious variety of local and Caribbean dishes in a street food style.
It’s a food fest where you can also get delicious drinks like our famous Dodgy Rum Punch, Pina Coladas and other fun drinks like Pain Killers, Dodgy Lime, Margaritas and on-site brewed beer. There is also a very popular live band called Solid the Band who are really good at livening up the crowd and are a customer favourite.
"Sometimes if you look carefully at the bay around happy hour, you can see the green back turtles popping up their heads for a breath of air"
- Magdalena Fielden
TTG: What makes Dodgy Dock unique?
MF: It is a restaurant, lounge and bar where locals and tourists “lime” (local Grenadian word use to describe people hanging out and having a nice time) and enjoy our tasty dishes, freshly made cocktails and Caribbean music by the sea front.
Also, sometimes if you look carefully at the bay around happy hour, you can see the green back turtles popping up their heads for a breath of air when having their delicious supper of green grass which grows on the bottom of the bay.
TTG: Sum up the Dodgy Dock in three words
MF: Friendly, fun and funky.
TTG: Tell us about the places on Grenada where you go to escape
MF: I love to take a drive on a farmer’s road called Belair that crosses through the middle of the island and has the most wonderful scenery of our luscious rain forests, dramatic mountains and stunning plantations.
I also enjoy a walk through a cocoa plantation to observe the beauty of the trees and the little geckos and other creatures living there.
Last but not least I love to snorkel all along Sandy Island at Grenada’s sister Carriacou while travelling up the Grenadine Islands on a sailing yacht.
"Some people say we are 20 years behind every other Caribbean developing island, but the truth is Grenada still retains the Caribbean culture many other islands have lost."
- Magdalena Fielden
TTG: Tell us one thing that tourists don’t really know about the island.
MF: The island still has a lot of the Caribbean old fashioned charm other islands have lost. Some people say we are 20 years behind every other Caribbean developing island, but the truth is Grenada still retains the Caribbean culture many other islands have lost. Grenada is also one of 17 countries around the world that produces fine cocoa and has 6 “tree to bar” chocolate factories.
TTG: When you're not at work, where on the island would you be most likely be found?
MF: At La Sagesse beach drinking a lime squash with dark rum under a palm tree or anchored on a sailboat at one of Carriacou’s beautiful anchorages.
TTG: If you could only recommend one thing for visitors to do on Grenada during their stay, what would it be?
MF: To go to a local and now tourist favourite spot called “Welcome Rock” in the north of the island, where you always get spectacular views of Grenada’s sister islands, it is truly breathtaking scenery that no camera could properly capture. A visit to The House of Chocolate in St. Georges is also a must.