Karakter Beach Bar Karabanas



Mark Meijjer: A Man of Karakter

By Alita Singh


Delicious dining and diverse choices have made St. Maarten/St. Martin the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.


Mark Meijjer can almost qualify as an international man of mystery. He’s one of the friendly faces at Karakter Beach Bar & Restaurant on the picturesque Simpson Bay Beach. Repeat customers know him as the owner of this laid-back, fun beach bar, famed from its parties and New Year’s Day swim.


Meijjer can easily be mistaken for having always been an “island boy” bonded with the beach. But there’s way more to this story, and it starts on a whole other island: Curaçao. Meijjer was visiting the sister Dutch Caribbean island and stopped at Karakter Beach for a refresher. A few beers in and a lively conversation with the beach bar’s owner ensued. That’s when he learned that there was another Karakter in St. Maarten.


“The owner said in passing he’d be willing to sell Karakter in St. Maarten. A few beers later, I said ‘perhaps I want to buy,’” shares Meijjer. This was how a black toga-wearing Amsterdam lawyer became the ever-smiling man of Karakter! This was almost eight years ago, and he has not thought twice about giving up the courtroom to serve a different kind of clientele.


“I decided to retire early,” he adds, after finding his passion for the beach and for the island. “Karakter is a place where everyone is welcomed. I believe there are two kinds of people in the world — good people and bad people. All the good people are welcome at Karakter, and all the bad ones, they should just stay away.”


“Why come to Karakter?” I ask. Meijjer emphatically responds, “Simpson Bay Beach is the most beautiful on the island. It’s just us here in this corner with the long white-sand beach stretching along. You can stroll and meet very few people. It’s tranquility.”


After that stroll, settle in at the beach bar and choose from a diverse menu covering Caribbean tastes, Dutch flavors, and lots more in between. “We cater to and have diverse guests. Our menu reflects this. There is something for everyone,” Meijjer says. The chicken satay is one of the menu’s top sellers.


By the end of our conversation, it was clear that Meijjer is where he’s meant to be and that he doesn’t miss the days in the courtroom. “Working here on the island, on the beach, is as good as it gets,” says Meijjer. “People are always happy and in a good mood when they come to Karakter. I like dealing with happy people. As a lawyer, no one calls to share good things. There’s dissatisfaction. Here, there are smiles and maybe someone shares they won the lottery,” he says with a smile.


Want to join in on the fun? Karakter has a beach party on Sundays and live music on most nights.


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