The restaurant staff has grown from the original six to 24 loyal employees, two of them dating back to the original half dozen. Thanks to an enlightened and generous profit-sharing policy promoted by both owner and manager, employee fidelity is top of the line and employee turnover is minimal.
Craig Goold – Operational Manager
“I met Dexter Hewett in 1975 at the Hotel Tahara’a in Tahiti where he was a client. We continued our relation to the Hotel Bora Bora days. I stayed in his home in Los Angeles. My wife and I were business partners with Dexter,” said Craig Goold.
Craig and Rick have known one another since they attended the same junior high school in Tustin, CA.
Craig said that he grew up in the restaurant business because his parents owned a restaurant in Hawaii. Craig had been roommates with Monty Brown on the
Big Island of Hawaii before Monty was appointed assistant manager, then
general manager of the Hotel Bora Bora.
Craig went to Tahiti in January 1975 and was hired by the Ed Fearon family to work in the Hotel Tahara’a in Tahiti. Ed Fearon was then part owner of the
Hotel Tahara’a and the Hotel Bora Bora.
“I was the executive chef for their 200 room hotel,” Craig recalled. “There
were 35 people under me. The upper main management team was from the Marquesas Islands.”
“I had to learn French--kitchen French. They finally got a chef and I moved into
food and beverage. I was the bar manager the second year in 1976,” he said.
Craig met a beautiful girl named Erina, who worked in the hotel’s bar. “Her hair touched her knees,” he said. “She is originally from Taha’a, where her parents are vanilla farmers. She was paying her way through boarding school at the Lycée Hotel Taaone in Tahiti.
After working at the Hotel Tahara’a for two years, Craig finally got transferred to the Hotel Bora Bora as the food and beverage manager. He also worked for a while as executive chef, replacing the Italian chef who had family problems in Italy.
Craig married his lovely Erina when they got to Bora Bora in 1977. They also got married in Hawaii to make it legal in the USA. They had two daughters and a son, and later adopted a boy, who is now 10 years old. Craig and Erina have four grandchildren.
Craig held the title of purchasing manager when he left the Hotel Bora Bora in 1985 to join Dexter Hewett in getting Bloody Mary’s reopened. “I hired Rick away from the Hotel Bora Bora to help me here,” Craig said.
“I was bought out by Dexter in 1989 and Rick became the general manager,” Craig continued. “I went to the Moana Beach Resort as purchasing manager and left in 1991 for two years. I went to Hawaii to put the kids in school. It was a good break. My wife loved it. She worked on the big Island at a VIP country club in Kona.
“I came back to Bora Bora in 1993. Bora Bora Lagoon Resort offered me a job as international and local purchasing. I helped open the Bora Bora Lagoon Resort,” Craig said.
“Dexter and Rick wanted me to come back to Bloody Mary’s in 1996,” Craig continued. “Rick was the general manager, and I came back as the restaurant manager and purchasing.
“In 1996 we rebuilt Bloody Mary’s from nothing,” Craig said. The restaurant was closed from December 1, 1996 to May 15, 1997 while many changes took place. Craig was very proud of the shiny new kitchen, the grill, and fish filleting station.
But he was especially happy to point out the impressive display table where the raw steaks, chicken, shrimp, lobster and selections of fresh fish are laid out on ice so the customers can choose their appetizers and main courses for dinner.
“We redesigned the restaurant, which can now seat 140 people or 150 during private nights,” Craig said. “There are 24 people working here now, and 12 of them were born and raised here in Bora Bora,” he added.
Craig is the operational manager and his main responsibility is purchasing and overseeing the food and the kitchen. He is training a young Polynesian woman named Olivia to take his place, as Craig comes to Bloody Mary’s only four days a week. “I’m retired and now work on a contract,” he said.
Rick Guenett – General Manager
“I was born in Montréal, Canada. My family moved to Tustin, California when I was 8 years old and I met Craig Goold when I was 16.
“I was two days out of high school when I went to work at the Kona Village resort on the Big Island of Hawaii. My family went there on vacation and I asked the general manager for a job and he told me to come back that summer.
“I began as a waiter at the Kona Village, and then they made me a wine steward, although I was only 17, which was underage. Craig was living on the Big Island then and we hooked
“University got shorter and Hawaii got longer. I wanted to be a schoolteacher until I found out how much they got paid. What I really wanted to do was to chase girls, surf and wait tables, in that order,” Rick said with a laugh.
“Monty Brown (who was then manager of the Hotel Bora Bora) brought me down here in 1981 to work for the Hotel Bora Bora. I was in charge of the bar with a staff of eight. Monty told me I had to learn how to get along with a Tahitian employee named Tehei because the liquor license was in her name,” Rick said.
“Six weeks later Monty also put me in charge of the restaurant, so then I had a staff of 32. I had been in the country only six weeks and I spoke no French when I became the night manager!” he exclaimed. In addition to being “directeur de nuit”, Rick was later given the responsible title of food and beverage manager.
Even with all his duties at work, Rick still found time to pursue his primary interest, especially after meeting the tall friendly receptionist named Rosa, who worked at the hotel’s front desk.
“Rosa and I got married at the Mairie (town hall) in Bora Bora in 1984, and there were 300 people at the wedding reception,” Rick reminisced. “I brought kukui nut leis from Hawaii for the occasion.”
Rick and Rosa have two daughters and two grandchildren, and they are still enjoying one another’s company and happy sense of humor.
“In Bora Bora when you hear someone laugh behind you, you might think they’re
12 years old. Then you turn around and see that they’re 60, and that’s magic,”
Rick said. “When I first came here, I learned that I am here to be the student,
but also the teacher. Every day living in Tahiti makes me understand that
I’m a student.”
“I have one of the most popular restaurants in this country,” he said. “We make it up as we go along. We can't stand still. We know we have to keep the fish fresh and the beer cold and the prices reasonable. We averaged 115-120 people per night last year.
“I’m really blessed to have a great crew,” Rick continued. “You build it, give them the tools, teach them how to do it (training), then get the hell out of the way. This is different from a hotel atmosphere. What we say we can do, we do.”
“This is the old Tahiti right here,” Rick said, indicating the restaurant’s thatched roof, open sides, white sand floor, wooden slab tables and stools made of coconut stumps. “This is a big Fare Tiurai (the baraques or carnival type huts built for the Heiva Festival each July). All we’ve done is add the varnish.”
People go to Bloody Mary's restaurant expecting to have a good time, as well as to enjoy some good food. Some also go there in hopes of seeing a famous movie or television star, or a well-known singer or stage personality.
And sometimes they do see a familiar public face. On the two “walls of fame” at the entrance to Bloody Mary’s, there are 230 names of famous personalities who have dined at Bloody Mary's.
Rick said that two of those names are printed in water-based paint so they can be easily replaced whenever a group reserves the restaurant for a private gathering. The guest of honor or the CEO of the company then has the pleasure of discovering his or her name on the celebrity list.
“On any given night anything can happen,” Rick said. “One night in 2004 John McCain walked in and said, ‘Hi, is Rick here?’ I know his wife and family.
“Jimmy Buffett is ‘rumored’ to come here next year. He’s been one of our favorites. He went fly fishing by the airport with David Nakano, who was then working for
the Hotel Bora Bora.
“David is now our squid man,” Rick continued, changing the subject to talk about the food served at Bloody Mary’s.
“For six nights a week for the first 15+ years I was the front man and did the fish display. Now Mama, Olivia and Craig do it,” said Rick, who no longer works nights.
“I get the best and freshest fish and seafood in Bora Bora because I give the fishermen a check instead of making them wait by paying on credit 30 days later.
“All our plates include salad, fresh fruit, rice and vegetables. A fish dinner is priced from 2.600 to 3.200 CFP (French Pacific francs). The vegetable plate is served with fresh basil that we grow out back.”
Bloody Mary’s is also an excellent choice for lunch, served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Their tempting selection of delicious burgers even includes an onion burger and a Jimmy Buffett cheeseburger. These are served with thick potato fries. Other luncheon choices include Reuben sandwiches, fresh salads, fish and chips or deep fried shrimp.
“Then the appetizer menu kicks in until dinner time. This way there is food service continuously from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.,” Rick said.
“We have two chefs, which is a luxury, yet they have different talents that blend
and complement each other,” Rick said. “Teina is my nephew and the “tane” (man) of Olivia, who is the restaurant manager. Then there’s Papa Jean, who had his
own restaurant here on Bora Bora in the past. They have both been with us for some time.
“When Dexter Hewett bought Bloody Mary’s in 1985 the old bar had a crack on the surface, and a mo’o (yellow lizard) would come up through the crack and lick a cherry we put on top of the bar,” Rick said.
Rick designed the new bar, which is a very spacious American style bar. American expatriate Kurt Pearson made the beautifully smooth counter of the new bar out of a lychee tree. The varnished seats are made of thick coconut logs.
“We have 66 brands of booze on display at our bar,” Rick said. They also have cold Hinano beer on tap. Naturally, the most popular drink is the Bloody Mary, and the frozen Margarita is a close second. “We also have a vanilla rum Bloody Mary made with dark rum,” Rick said.
“Danielle, the head bartender, has worked here for 10 years, and Veldi is the bar manager. He’s been here 4 years. Momo is also a veteran. We pay them well. Everybody gets Sunday off. That’s family day,” Rick said.
Manuia Charousset (Mama) – Waitress
“My father is French and my mother is Tahitian. I was born in Pao Pao on the
island of Moorea. I left French Polynesia in 1948 when I was four years old and went to France.
“My father had a French woman and he left my mother. My brother and I were adopted by his new wife. My father exported Nationale cigarettes and Savon de Marseille. We lived in Tourraine.
“I met my mother again when I was 15. “I went to London when I was 16-17 years old to study and to work as an “au pair”. Then I went to Rome, Italy and worked as a waitress when I was 18. I met an Italian boy 20 years old.
“I met my daughter Olivia's father while I was working with an Italian movie company as a script girl. He was in hair and makeup. Then we had a restaurant called the Manuia Ristorante, which was a very famous restaurant in Trastevere that served Italian and French food. We were the owners and managers. He took care of the bar and I was a waitress.
“I came back to Tahiti with my Italian husband in 1969 for a visit. Only the Hotel Bora Bora and Club Med were built on Bora Bora at that time.
“Olivia was born when I was 30. She had a baby when she was 30. There is a 60-year difference between my grandson and me. I am 65 and he is five. Olivia was born in Italy, but she went to live with her father in Brasilia where his new wife works for the embassy.
Olivia speaks Italian, Spanish, English French, very good Portuguese, and a little Tahitian.
“I speak English, French, Italian, a little Spanish, a little Japanese, and a little Portuguese,
but no Tahitian.
“I have had the opportunity to travel a lot--to Sudan, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Australia, New Zealand, and many other places.
“I worked on a diving boat in the Sudan for tourists from Italy who went to
Khartoum for a two-week diving expedition. In 1980 the Sudan was still good--no wars. Diving in the Red Sea was beautiful. It was one of the best diving places in the world.
“I came back to Tahiti in 1992. My brother and sister live there. Tahiti was too big for me. I wanted to find a job working on a small island. The Bora Bora Lagoon Resort was opening and I did a training course and worked as bar tender for two years. I left because it became very military.
“I asked Rick 4-5 times for a job at Bloody Mary’s. He hired me because I was persistent and I started working here in July 1995. I work five days a week now, including only one lunch.
I have met a lot of VIPs here: Pierce Brosnan, Janet Jackson, Goldie Hawn, Sean Penn, Cameron Diaz, and the little girl who played in the ET movie.
“My restaurant in Italy was in Cinecita and I also had a lot of important actors there: including Richard Burton and Kirk Douglas. When I brought Dustin Hoffman’s plate of food to him, he said, “You look like a Gauguin woman."
Rick’s comment: “I wish I had five more like Manuia (Mama) and Olivia. They treat it like it’s their own place.”