Captain Tony’s Saloon, 05 August 2017

Captain Tony’s Saloon in Key West;
Monroe county, Florida (05 August 2017).

If you ever find yourself in Key West, Florida, I recommend swinging by Captain Tony’s Saloon. While the address (428 Greene Street) dates back to the 1850s, it was in 1933 that the location first became the infamous Sloppy Joe’s bar, so named by none other than Ernest Hemingway (who frequented the bar throughout much of the 1930s). By the close of the 1930s, however, Sloppy Joe’s moved over to Duval Street, and 428 Greene Street began a decades-long dance through various ownerships and manifestations. Finally, in 1958, local gambler, sea captain, and sometimes-politician Captain Tony Tarracino bought the joint. Captain Tony’s Saloon was born. This is where Jimmy Buffett got his start in Key West back in the early 1970s. Bob Dylan has also been a repeat visitor. Above all, however, is the ubiquitous legend of Taraccino himself. Even after selling the bar in 1989, Captain Tony often made weekly appearances at his namesake saloon — until he ultimately passed away in November of 2008 around the age of 92; I was fortunate to have met him back in June of 2007. Today, you can still feel Captain Tony’s rebel-rousing spirit wafting about the saloon — along with all the adoration of his mythic legacy by those visiting (and drinking).

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