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The Conch Connection

Sloppy Joe's - A Key West Tradition

May 8, 2017 1:52:57 PM / by Key West Express posted in Walking Distance, Restaurants, Casual, Old-Town, Bar & Grill, American Cuisine

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What is the first bar that comes to mind when you think Key West? Most likely Sloppy Joe’s,  the famous watering hole of Ernest Hemingway is a Key West tradition steeped in history.  Founded on the very day prohibition was repealed, December 5, 1933.  The bar actually went through a of couple name changes before Sloppy Joe’s was chosen with encouragement from the infamous Ernest Hemingway. 


Fearless rum runner/bootlegger & speakeasy operator Joe “Josey” Russell and his friend, customer and fishing companion Hemingway formed a special bond during the writer’s residency on the island. After the inevitable failure of “Operation Dry America” Russell found himself on the up & up as a genuine saloon keeper and business owner of a dump called the “Blind Pig” which cost him a whopping three dollars a week to lease the building. The pig was located around the corner where Capt. Tony’s Saloon still stands. (Fascinating history there too!) http://www.capttonyssaloon.com/ Built in 1852 the building served 2 important purposes. It was an ice house (very important due to the heat in Key West) and the city morgue (also very important due to the heat in Key West).

Thought to be haunted, the bar now houses the “hanging tree” where 16 pirates and a woman who took a knife to her husband and 2 children met their maker. Known as The Lady in Blue, (nicknamed for the color of her dress during the hideous killing spree and the color she turned during the ….)

In 1898 a telegraph was housed in the same building. Famous for informing the world during the Spanish–American War that the battleship Maine was destroyed, when the news came from Havana to Key West.

Over the following decades it housed speakeasies, a bordello, a cigar factory and an early gay bar. The Navy forbade their men from patronizing the establishment which was ultimately forced to close and remain empty for quite some time until Anthony Tarracino opened its doors in 1958 as Captain Tony’s.

Not long after Joe Russell attained the Blind Pig in 1931, the ratty ramshackle establishment added a dance floor and changed its name to the "Silver Slipper" where in addition to gambling, gossip and ten cent shots patrons could now kick up their wobbly heels.

 An Old Havana bar and fish market where Joe “Josie” Russell and Hemingway spent considerable time while in Cuba was owned by another friend, Jose Garcia Rio. Joe’s Cuban bar was ridiculed as being  sloppy due to constantly melting ice that made a big mess of the floors….. Hence Havana’s aptly monikered “Sloppy Joe's”.  One thing led to another….. and one drink led to another…. and the Silver Slipper became the now famous Sloppy Joe’s at the urging of Hemingway!

 

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Key West's Free (mostly) Songwriters Festival

Apr 25, 2017 9:00:00 AM / by Key West Express posted in Attractions, Activities, Casual, Old-Town, Outdoor, Night Life

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 The Key West Songwriters festival is the world’s LARGEST event of its kind. The five day music mania begins in early to mid May, with free shows daily as well as some performances requiring reservations.  This is THE must do for music junkies! Some of Nashville’s greatest talents made their debuts in Key West, at the song writers festival! 

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Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives - Does Key West

Apr 5, 2017 4:02:10 PM / by Key West Express posted in Casual, Old-Town, Outdoor, Bar & Grill, American Cuisine, Seafood

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Roadside diners, vintage drive-ins and out-of-the-way "dives" are enjoying a come-back of hipness. Host Guy Fieri travels the country in search of the best greasy spoons. The restaurants he visits are well-known among locals and visitors looking for authentic area food joints and mom and pop kitchen’s. While at the locations, Guy interacts with customers and staff as well as the chef’s. The first episode aired on April 23, 2007 and the show has grown continuously in popularity.

Who doesn’t love a diner, drive in or dive. Steeped in tradition, aged with consistency and slathered in warm nostalgic sentiment these are a binding ingredient in communities across the nation.

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Dixie Roadhouse - Cape Coral's Hottest Country Music Club

Apr 3, 2017 3:22:08 PM / by Key West Express posted in Bar, Attractions, Casual, Bar & Grill, Cape Coral, Night Life

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Dixie Roadhouse is a fantasic place to go with friends or to make new ones!

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AQUA - Key West - Where the Entertainment's a DRAG Show!!!

Mar 23, 2017 9:00:00 AM / by Key West Express posted in Bar, Attractions, Casual, Upscale Casual, Drag Show, Night Life

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AQUA Bar and Nightclub, Key West

A visit to Key West is incomplete without taking in a Drag Show!

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South West Florida's Rum - Wicked Dolphin

Mar 13, 2017 9:00:00 AM / by Key West Express posted in Insider, Attractions, Casual, Rum, Cape Coral, Distillery

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Florida, America’s sugar cane capital, has been home to Cape Coral's own Wicked Dolphin Rum since 2012. 100% Florida sugar and local ingredients are used when handcrafting rum in small batches in an American Copper Pot Still (the largest in Florida). Wicked Dolphin Rum is aged in American White Oak Barrels which previously were used for premium Kentucky Bourbon, for anywhere from 3 to 14 years.

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Quick Tips for Seminole Casino - Immokalee

Mar 9, 2017 12:26:21 PM / by Key West Express posted in Bar, Attractions, Casual, Pool, Resort, Bar & Grill, Upscale Casual

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Indulge in some of Southwest Florida’s Exciting Gaming, Entertainment, Luxurious Accommodations, and Decadent Dining at one of the area’s top vacation holiday destinations - Seminole Casino.

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St. Patrick's Day - A Floridian's Twist

Feb 7, 2017 9:00:00 AM / by Scott Schofield posted in Insider, Bar, Activities, Beaches, Fort Myers Beach, Casual, Outdoor, Lunch

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The month of March brings some of the best weather of the year to South West Florida. While our northern friends are still shoveling snow, here in the Sunshine State we are slathering on the spf 30 and heading to the beach. In the midst of Spring Break and perfect weather falls St. Paddy’s Day, so put on some sunscreen, get your green on and watch a parade!

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Fort Myers Largest Festival of the Year!

Feb 2, 2017 1:33:17 PM / by Scott Schofield posted in Insider, Museums, Attractions, Activities, Casual, Outdoor

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What does Thomas Edison, mid-February and a 2 week party all have in common? The Edison Festival of Light, of course. Each February the City of Ft Myers recognizes its most famous winter resident, Thomas Alva Edison. He built a sprawling home and laboratory along McGregor Boulevard in 1885. Over the years he also encouraged a number of his friends to make the move south. Henry Ford was his most famous friend who shared the property on McGregor Boulevard known as the Edison Ford Estate.

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Top 3 Things to do for Valentine’s Day in Key West

Jan 24, 2017 3:56:08 PM / by Key West Express posted in Luxury, Water Activities, Waterfront, Restaurants, Casual, Old-Town, Formal, Lunch, Upscale Casual, Holiday

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Make your Valentine feel as special as he or she is! Make memories in Key West by starting aboard the Key West Express. Visitors are drawn to the southern charm and Caribbean influences of this laid-back island city, only 4 miles long by 1.5 miles wide. During the day or at night, the island is alive with sidewalk cafes, world-class restaurants, fishing, watersports, shopping, performing arts, musical entertainment and galleries before the island gathers each evening at Mallory Square for the world renown sunset celebration.
  •  Enjoy a romantic lunch on the seaside deck at Louie’s Backyard
  •  Sail off into the sunset aboard a cruise with Fury Water Adventures
  •  Complete your perfect Valentine’s Day at Better than Sex before retiring to one of Key West’s romantic B&B’s

Louie’s Backyard

Now this is one back yard that anyone would love to have. Enjoy mouth watering Caribbean American food as you relax on the fabulous multi-level deck above the sandy beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Whether for lunch, dinner or cocktails at sunset, to toast your Valentine, Louie’s is a culinary experience which has become a Key West tradition.

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