The Man Behind the Stache on Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach

Handel WhittakerZach Stovall

It’s become a must-see landmark on Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach: Handel Whittaker’s famous mustache. You could argue that Handel, the man who dreamed up pirate-theme restaurants/bars like Captain Morgan’s and now Calico Jack’s, is the most easily recognized person on the island because of those wall-to-wall whiskers. But that isn’t the only reason why his beach bar is often the first stop for travelers after they land at the airport or disembark at the cruise-ship terminal. “Making people happy also makes me happy,” he says. And yes, more than 20 years on the beach means he has some pretty interesting stories too.

I didn't mean for the mustache to become a story. I started growing it back when I was a flight attendant. Then I crafted it to go with the pirate theme of the bar I owned in 1990. It just kept on going from there. You could say it's followed me around ever since.

I don't drink. The main reason I have this bar is because I like to spend time with people and see them leave here happier.

Every day I'm up at 4:30 a.m. Get dressed. Come to work. Not because I'm the owner. I clean tables, pick up garbage, run errands. On my day off I get up at 3 a.m., do a little work, go to church, and spend time with my father.

Mark Cuban tended bar here once. Our bartender spotted him and said, "You're Mark Cuban, aren't you?" And he said, "Yes." So the bartender said, "Well, get back here and work." So he did, and he wasn't bad at it.

We had a Sports Illustrated swimsuit photo shoot too. One of the models laid across the bar right there. We wouldn't clean it for three weeks.

I'm proud to be 100 percent Caymanian. Why? Because here we go out of our way to make strangers, expats, neighbors, everyone feel at home. When I was a young teenager, my mother was the only one in our district with a refrigerator. On Saturday she'd make extra ice because she knew on Sunday, when it was 98 degrees, people would want something cold to drink. That's what we do here.