Having become 80, September 19 2021, this one family business is one of the oldest existing businesses on the island, public and private.
Nowadays a gathering place for local artists, musicians, with creole plates, specialised in seafood.
It’s a gathering spot where visitors can enjoy high quality food in an informal atmosphere. De-emphasizing on etiquette and emphasizing on ingredients.
Charlie Brouns III with sister Montsy and Family brings you Aruba’s History in a small corner in San Nicolas. A third-generation establishment since 1941, gathering spot for merchant marines and blue-collar workers of the oil industry that was very significant to the Aruban economy during the better part of the 20th century that transitioned and blossomed into a cultural gem.
Charlie III has a network of fishermen that he has cultivated through the years to provide his guests with the freshest fruits of the sea from the boat to their plates. Aruba being a logistics example to tourist destinations worldwide can provide the most demanding palettes with ingredients from all around the world, therefore other items for those who do not care for or are allergic to seafood can be catered.
Aruba has a population of circa 110 Thousand Inhabitants but feeds close to 2 million a year. So don’t be surprised to find lamb chops of New Zealand on Charlie’s Menu. This in turn gives CharlieIII the flexibility to virtually order overnight, which was not possible even a decade ago. Of Course, taking advantage of the seasonality of certain items. In his own words, Charlie’s Bar is a Bistro where you can have a Stiff drink.
Charlie’s public hours are from 11:30 to 6 and closed on Sundays and national holidays. His next venture is expanding to a new realm, dinner by reservations, provided by a degustation menu with a limited capacity.
Originally from Holland, the young Charles went from dock worker to seaman, but with ambition for a better future he came to Aruba after a 3 year chapter in Curacao to work for Marie’s uncle as a bartender. At first he did not like the idea, little did he know that his background as a seaman in the docks would make him every seaman and refinery worker’s favourite bartender and confidant during World War II in which Aruba provided about 1/6 of the oil that the allies used. September 18th 1941, was the exact date when the pinnacle of the Love story between Charlie and Marie Brouns came to life. The well-known Charlie’s Bar opened its doors for the first time, with some Folding chairs from the Lago Heights Club in a little corner not too far from the refinery’s main gate. Which Charlie expanded to the first real night club in Aruba, LIDO in 1949. LIDO catered to personalities from the governor to top executives and socialites of Aruba with live music, lobster and fillet dinners. A dress code was enforced: jacket and tie, no A/C by the way.
Born in April 18 of 1941, with the bar as his playground, he had a fine taste in enjoying life and grand vision for San Nicolas.
After studying in one of the most prestigious Hospitality and Management schools of Belgium. He went to work in Puerto Rico, where he met the love of his life Rosalba. They got married in Colombia, opened a couple of restaurants and a hotel, but because of the political instability and insueing a civil war he came back home. When the time came for Ma and Pa Brouns retire, Jr took over in 1976 continuing with tradition and as business continued, the refinery shut down, the only other alternative was to adapt to the growing and now booming tourist industry and the bar became also an ever growing cultural center of activity, a restaurant, souvenir shop and home for all Boozers.
Charlie’s background is very diverse, he started his academic studies in Texas in electrical engineering and sciences, then followed with liberal arts and ended up in business. After his studies at the university of texas, he decided to come home and seek for employment outside of the bar, after applying at KPMG, Coastal (the then refinery), Aruba Tourism Authorities, politics trumped that effort and decided to work along Charles Jr. in 1995. In 1997 Charlie Jr suffered an Aneurysm, of Which Charles Jr came out unscaved and recuperated at his good friend’s house, Sam Speziale Jr. Charlie III then Decided to stick around and work at the bar permanently alongside his dad. In 2004 Charles Brouns Jr suffered a fatal accident at the bar. So basically the bar was his alpha and his omega.
Charlie III became then the director, manager, cook and triple D (dishwasher, doorman and decorator).