The One, and Only.
It's true. Sloppy Joe's Key West is the most popular and well-known of all Key West Bars, as much as many locals hate to admit it. If you were to do a web search of "Bars in Key West", guess who's at or near the top? Exactly. One of America's Greatest Writers staggered out of there on a regular basis, and if it wasn't for that, I question whether it would be sitting on the throne the way it is, but that's neither here nor there...
Started (legally) on December 5, 1933--the day after Prohibition ended--by a dude named Joe Russell, where it sits now is not where it originally sat. It was moved there after the landlord at the previous location (where Captain Tony's is now) raised the rent by ONE DOLLAR. Yup, they were like "f**k that!", picked everything up and moved it around the corner to it's current location. The people drinking in the bar even helped! They didn't even CLOSE! How cool is THAT?
Doesn't take much to flood the end of Duval Street (the main drag) where Sloppy Joe's Key West is.
Ernest Hemingway was a fan of the bar from day one. He even was instrumental in the name change (from The Silver Slipper, and prior to that it was named The Blind Pig). Apparently, due to them selling liquor and seafood, the floor was always wet, and the customers liked to talk trash to Joe about how sloppy an establishment he ran. I was surprised to find that out, thinking, of course, that they must've made killer Sloppy Joe there, but nope!
Hemingway and Joe were tight, as besides for owning the bar and being a
rumrunner, Joe piloted Hemingway's boat, the two fished together for
over a decade, and he was the inspiration for the character Freddy, the
owner of Freddy's Bar, and Captain of the Queen Conch
in Hemingway's book "To Have and Have Not".
Hemingway look-alikes in the annual Running of the Bulls, part of the Hemingway Days Festival.
Sloppy Joe's Key West is also known for three annual events: Around Hemingway's Birthday every year (July 21st), the bar holds the Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, which is part of the Hemingway Days Festival. It's popular, especially with fans of the author. There's also the Toga Party, part of Fantasy Fest, our Mardi Gras held in late October (What's Fantasy Fest? Think a safer, cleaner [and by cleaner, I mean the streets] version of New Orleans, and people now come from all over the WORLD to get their freak on (are you a little freaky-deaky? ;-)), and on New Year's Eve, they have the Dropping of the Conch Shell (as opposed to a ball, like in Times Square). Big fun!
Open every day (unless a hurricane is coming), Sloppy Joe's Key West stays busy as all get-out, especially if a cruise ship or two (or three!) is in town. As the "premier" bar, everybody and their Mama goes there, so you KNOW it's going to be loud. Food is hit-or-miss, at best. They have music every day and night, and sometimes it's really good! Check out my music webpage for more info.
So yeah, Sloppy Joes Key West is a TOURIST-MANDATORY stop on your visit to Key West Florida, and there's nothing wrong with that. Just make sure it's one of the many places you visit down here (you HAVE seen my other web pages on Key West Bars, right?).
And please remember to tell them: "Freshwater Dave Sent US!!!"
And please, always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS leave a comment, good or bad, with me. How else am I gonna know if I'm wrong about something, or if things have changed? Hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, or on my contact me page.
Have fun--it ain't hard!
Sloppy Joe's Key West, 201 Duval St., Key West, FL 33040 (305) 294-5717 www.sloppyjoes.com