Donovan’s Reef, an outdoor iconic bar outside Nancy’s Restaurant, finally has its frontman. Donovan Clarke arrived from Jamaica on Sunday, July 22, and he’s here to stay — at least for the summer.
He and 10 other returning Nancy’s employees, also from Jamaica, were part of a lucky group of lottery winners granted H-2B visas when the Department of Homeland Security opened an additional 15,000 visas in early July.
“It’s getting more difficult, and we just lucked out,” Nancy’s manager Steve Ansara said. “There was a real possibility we weren’t going to get it. I know there’s other Vineyard businesses that applied and didn’t get it.”
Nancy’s found out they were among the visa lottery winners earlier this month. It took about a month for visas to pass through the Department of Labor, U.S. Customs and Immigration, and the U.S. embassy. Applicants can’t book their flights until their visas are stamped and ready to go. According to Ansara, his employees didn’t know they could fly in until two days before.
In terms of the process, H-2B applicants don’t have to do much. It’s up to businesses to apply, pay the fees, get the permitting, and prove they’re not taking jobs away from American workers.
“Donovan is the face of a lot of this stuff, but it’s equally, if not more, important that we have our dishwashers and line cooks. That’s what runs this kind of business,” Ansara said.
According to Ansara, a lot of his employees are like family, and many of them have been with Nancy’s for over a decade.
“We’re so excited to have everyone back,” Ansara said. “There’s some hugs, but then it’s straight to work.”