DiscoverBackyards of Key West Podcast with Mark Baratto
Backyards of Key West Podcast with Mark Baratto

Backyards of Key West Podcast with Mark Baratto

Author: Mark Baratto

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Welcome to Key West – Paradise USA

As you enter the island of Key West, these words are the first thing you see in big bold letters on the famed ‘Welcome to Key West’ sign.

Whether it be the incredible sunrises or sunsets (we get both here), the charming Conch houses hidden around every turn, the chickens running wild, the flat ocean for miles or the island feel, it’s really the people that make Key West what it is.

If you have ever wondered what people do around here or wanted to know the story behind a restaurant, bar or local business, this is exactly why we started the Backyards of Key West Podcast. We are going to take you behind the scenes, so we can bring you the stories behind what makes Key West so magical, and how they juggle business life with Island life.

So sit back and relax and enjoy the chill vibes!
85 Episodes
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with returning guest, Paul Menta. Paul may be known for his Kiteboarding and his Rum (Key West Legal Rum Distillery), but we sit down to discuss his newest project, When COVID-19 hit, Paul saw how hard local businesses got hit, that he created a FREE listing for locally-owned independent businesses and services of Key West & the Florida Keys. More on Mom and Pop business is two out of three businesses in Key West and the Florida Keys. Shopping Mom and Pop businesses support our neighbors and families who live in Key West and the Florida Keys. Mom and Pop’s are the folks who make up our Island communities. These are the folks who are always there for us, who say hello, who remember you, and who make our lives better even when we are busy. Mom and Pop businesses are always there for us with a smile. Support Key West, support the Florida Keys: Shop Mom and Pop. Website: Facebook: Instagram: Twitter:
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Scott Gerke, a Key West local that many of you know - or will know real soon. He created the Key West Full Moon Experience, has an event company, is a local DJ, took a stranger on the most epic Key West adventure - and suffers from anxiety. Like most of us out there, Scott may have looked like he had everything together from the outside. The great job, great apartment, the girl, the height (he is super tall), and living the island life... until he suffered from his first panic attack. After many months of feeling lost, Scott did what any reasonable person did; he sold all of his stuff and build a tiny house out of his Sprinter Van. Scott found himself driving all over the country and documenting his journey. A journey which you can find on his YouTube channel called, "Once a Stranger, Now a Friend." As someone who loves to meet new people, I created a little summer journey meeting random strangers and documenting the experiences I have with them, all through the power of hello. Life can bring us incredible offerings if we allow us to open up to all walks of life and that is what this series is all about. What I hope to gain from this journey is a better understanding of what makes all of us unique, with a new perspective on how each of us choose to live our lives. ~ Scott Gerke We go in so many directions during this episode, but most importantly, want people out there that are suffering from some sort of mental health issue - YOU are not alone. More on Scott Gerke I live by the quote, "A stranger is just a friend you haven't met yet" and a believer in the power of hello. By accepting other for who they are and allowing them to be their true selves around us, we can live a pretty fulfilling and incredible life. All it takes is a simple hello. My ultimate goal with this channel is to create a mental health talk-therapy foundation, where people can use the foundation's money to talk out their feelings with a professional and become the best version of themselves. With your support, we can make that dream become a reality. Please subscribe to my channel and let's grow this channel, together. I am also a DJ and event producer in Key West, FL, and hope to celebrate an occasion with you someday :) Website: YouTube: Instagram: Facebook:
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Beards and Brews owner, Eric to discuss how he got the idea, how longs he's been cutting hair, and how the island locals came together to support him and his new venture. More on Beards and Brews Barbershop & Bar Beards and Brews is the "Premier Barbershop Of The Florida Keys," offering craft beer and select draft beers while you wait*. With multi-generational barbers, with a combined experience of over 30 years. We are your local trusted barber! Specializing in men's style haircuts and beard trimming and up keep. Ask about beard hair care products and more. *Must be 21 or older to purchase alcohol. Non-Alcoholic beverages are also available for those who do not drink and or are not of age. Minors are to be accompanied by an adult. Instagram: Location: 5450 MacDonald Ave Unit 6, Key West, FL 33040 Phone: (305) 292-1460
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Smuggler Jim (JD Martin) at his Whiskey tai sting room on 627 Eton Street. We talk about the family history behind the Smuggler and well... everything Whiskey :) More on Key West Trading Company “Purveyors of Fine Whiskies and Spirits” This is the philosophy that our founder JD Martin had in mind when he created the company.  “I wanted to bring my family heritage of a reputation for Top Quality spirits and old school customer service to Key West” Martin said. JD Martin (Smuggler Jim) is a 5th generation whiskey maker from Kentucky.  The Martin family is well known for producing only the best quality spirits. They never used flavorings to hide the taste and the flagship product utilizes a recipe that has been unchanged since 1883. JD is the first Martin to “go legal” in 136 years.  ‘I am very proud of my heritage.  I grew up in a very unique way and learned values that aren’t taught much these days. My grandfather was my mentor.  He taught me how to run liquor starting when I was 9 years old. We hid our stills in an old smokehouse on the farm that we used to smoke Country Hams.  It was a simple but effective operation. In the winter we switched from whiskey making to gambling.  This is the lifestyle that kept our family fed for generations.  There was a certain respect that we had in the community and some romance to the process. My Grandfather always said that “Behind every great spirit is a great story”.  JD Martin has followed his grandfather’s wisdom and offers just that through the Key West Trading Company, great spirits with great stories.  He combines old world technique with modern processes such as the TerrePure process used in making their spirits today. Website: Instagram: Facebook.: Don't forget to listen to the B-Man & mi-Shell show:
The Jerk Key West

The Jerk Key West


On this episode of the podcast, Mark Baratto sits down with chef and food truck owner of The Jerk Caribbean food, Deon. We talked about how Deon got into the cooking game, how his culinary education mixed with family recipes, created some of the best Caribbean food on island. I should know... I had to get some after the interview! More on The Jerk We specialize in flavorful Caribbean Cuisine, only the best is good enough! Whole fish, Jerk, Oxtails, Curries, stews and many more specials. We do special requests, & takeout catering! Facebook: Instagram: Address 6404 Front St Key West, FL 33040 Phone:  (305) 407-0331 Open everyday: 10:30AM - 10:30PM
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Shots and Giggles owners Steve Kibbe and Hannia Rivera. We talk about how they got into the bar business and why they decided to open this local favorite. More on Shots and Giggles Shots and Giggles is located on the corner of Ann and Greene Street next door to Tattoos & Scars Saloon.  A local's favorite known for its intimate setting.  S&G features over 60 craft beers, fine wine and premium liquors. S&G will be celebrating its 9th anniversary this Thanksgiving of 2021. Owners Steve Kibbe and Hannia Rivera have been a part of Key West for over 25 years.   Steve arrived in Key West via Sacramento, California, however he is often seen around town in an Eagles jersey.    Hannia, a diehard Redskins fan, arrived in Key West via Annapolis, MD is often seen wearing  her "I hate Dallas" t-shirt around town. As lifelong restauranteurs and bar managers, Steve and Hannia are fortunate to have realized their dream of owning this little piece of hidden paradise.   Website: Instagram: Facebook: 201 Ann Street Key West, Fl 33040  T  /  305-414-8272
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Singer, songwriter, and all-around cool guy, Arlis Albritton. We talked about his journey and how he got started in music (hint, it was the mailroom), navigating the Nashville writing scene, and how he is expanding his talent into the festival arena, with the St. Augustine Songwriters Festival: More on Arlis Arlis started writing full time, getting numerous cuts on acts like Julie Roberts, Keith Anderson, Jeff Bates, Halfway To Hazard and John Michael Montgomery to name a few. More recently Luke Bryan cut “Too Damn Young” on Luke’s triple-platinum album Tailgates and Tanlines. Arlis also had the honor of co-producing his song “Good Morning Sunrise” on Jamey Johnson’s Grammy and ACM nominated album. Arlis saw some chart success with “Won’t Be Lonely Long” by Josh Thompson, reaching number 25 on the Billboard charts. Arlis’s songs have been placed in Nissan commercials as well as the television show “The Voice” Website: Instagram: Facebook: New Music:
In this episode of the Podcast, Mark Baratto sits down with artists Helen and Ben Harrison to talk about their gallery on White Street, but in a surprise turn of events, ended up talking about their life at sea. I think the below quote sums it up - enjoy! "In the 1970s my husband, Ben, and I spent four years building a thirty-eight foot sailboat in Costa Rica, a massive project for two gringos in a foreign country. Starting with a bare hull, we designed and constructed this giant sculptural object of functional art using self-taught traditional wood techniques that set the stage for my present work. While traveling and living aboard, which we did for 11 years, I began my transition from boatwork to sculpture." Read About Their Journey In Sailing Down The Mountain: A Costa Rican Adventure More on Harrison Gallery Located in the southernmost city in the continental United States, Harrison Gallery has become a local institution, earning a reputation as a destination for some of the best fine art in the area. A privately owned and operated art studio and show space, the gallery was opened by Helen and Ben Harrison in 1986. Harrison Gallery represents a select group of artists from whose work, along with that of the Harrison's, make the gallery a truly personal and unique artistic experience that should not be missed. Website: Instagram: Facebook: Ben Harrison's music:
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Head Mermaid, Kristi Ann to talk about how she got the idea for the festival, and how she applied her savvy retail skills into her creation. Save the date: July 1st - 5th 2021 More on the Mermaid Festival The Key West Mermaid Festival is founded by a Key West native mermaid. She, along with her crew and pod, invite you to step back in time to an island called Cayo Hueso (Bone Cay), where the Gulf meets the Atlantic, and the captains, seafarers, and fishermen would tell their stories of the sweet sirens' songs. This fin-tastic five-day event will unite the Key West locals and tourists, our neighboring Keys, visiting mermaid communities, and mermaid enthusiasts from around the world, on our magical little island. Family friendly, with fun for all, join us as we raise awareness for our beautiful oceans and educate all humans to swim safely in mermaid tails. #TheTakeOverIsReel we like to say, and we look forward to getting salty with all of the captains and mermaids who work hard to make Key West and the Florida Keys a better place for all who live the island life and our visitors. Website: Instagram: Facebook: This episode is sponsored by Backyards of Key West art :)
In this episode, Mark Baratto interviews Kathy Stamper and Scott Schofield to talk about the Key West Express, which takes residents and visitors to and from Key West, Fort Meyers and the Marco Island area. More on the Key West Express Key West Express to Paradise - Chill Out, Relax, Enjoy, Explore Our jet-powered catamarans deliver you to the Southernmost Point of the United States, a Vacation Spot of Poets, Pirates, Presidents & Partygoers.  Have your camera ready as you take in the famed arts and entertainment of Duval Street, world-renowned fishing, diving, and Mallory Square's breathtaking daily Sunset Celebration! For more information about your cruising experience and what you need for your journey, please click below to view their Your Experience page. Website: Instagram: Facebook: Twitter: Pinterest:
In this guest episode, Alia Moore interviews Mark Baratto on the Blame it on Buffett Podcast. This is an exclusive "role reversal" where Alia has me on as a guest on her podcast. If you ever wanted to know who the guy was behind the Backyards of Key West podcast, this is your chance! More on the Blame it on Buffett Podcast A podcast about Jimmy Buffett, Parrot Heads, Trop Rock, and all things escapism adjacent! I had a great time chatting with Mark because not only did we talk about Key West and his awesome Backyards of Key West Instagram account and podcast, we also kind of geeked out about podcasting and marketing. I hope that if you have ever been on the fence about starting that podcast or other creative project, that this episode will inspire you! Instagram: Facebook: Anchor.FM:
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with the artists and creators of Sacred Space: Lucy Hawk, Barbara Sage, Emily Shipman and Cristina Velardi. We talk about how this group of powerhouse ladies found each other, how they support each other, and how Sacred Space was formed. More on Sacred Space Sacred Space is an artist collective representing 9 local female creatives. Instagram: Facebook: Keys Weekly: Location: 5700 4th Avenue Stock Island, FL 33040 Email: Hours: 10AM - 6PM Meet the Creators Bella Laine by Emily Shipman Website: Instagram: Facebook: Whimsy Key West by Barbara Sage Website: Instagram: Facebook: Lucy Hawk Art by Lucy Hawk Website: Instagram: Facebook: Cocky Key West by Cristina Velardi Website: Instagram: Facebook:
In the episode, Mark Baratto sits down with travel blogger Michele O’Connor to talk about how she started her blogging business and how she grew her website into a full-time business. More on Who are we and what do we know about Key West? We are avid travelers.  Road trip is our middle name.  Any chance we get, we are on the open road.  We even have jobs that have us traveling around.  I guess you could say it’s a way of life.  A few years back, we ended up at the end of the road, A1A that is, and found Key West.  It truly was love at first sight. We met in Alaska and since then have been looking for a place that reminded us of that frontier spirit… we found it in Key West. As often as we can we travel back to Key West and enjoy every minute we have on the Island.  Our youngest lives in Florida, so it gives us a great excuse to stop in and say “hi” to him before we travel down to the Keys.  Our boys finally were able to take a trip to the Keys and now have been bitten by the bug…. the Key West bug… and they travel there as often as they can too. Which brings us to why we have created this website.  We want to help you plan your trips down to Key West.  Notice I said “trips”?  You will want to visit over and over again …. trust us on that!  Reach out we are here to answer your questions and help you not be overwhelmed when planning your trip.   Want to explore ideas on your own?  Check out our website.  Every one of our posts is written by us… which means, we only write about what we have done, seen, or been.  You get our honest opinion about a restaurant, bar, or tour. Kevin is a wonderful photographer and most of our website is filled with his photos.  I use my iPhone and find it does a pretty decent job.  Also, I write most of the articles – so if you find grammatical errors or unfinished thoughts… let me know… I will probably blame it on tequila but will appreciate your input. Also, feel free to comment.  We love to hear what you think.  Comment on a post or we have a very active social media fan base on Facebook and Instagram and would love to hear from you.  Give us ideas on where to go, food to eat and of course drinks to try. Like most of you, we want to live in Key West full time and are working on that goal every day.  Follow my blog as I will keep you updated on the struggle …. and some days it is a struggle because we really want to be there instead of here.  Here we work long hours and have days filled with cold and snow in the winter months… unless we have escaped for a short period of time to the Island. Website: Instagram: Facebook: Twitter: YouTube:
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Carol Hill, the owner of the Yankee Freedom III Ferry to the Dry Tortugas. This episode was recorded at the beginning of 2020 and Carol has a little cold, but don't worry, it wasn't COVID-19 :) We talk about how Carol got into the business, all the hoops she needed to jump through to be the exclusive free to the Dry Tortugas, and how having a positive attitude always wins out. More on The Yankee Freedom III Journey from Key West to the Dry Tortugas National Park & Fort Jefferson aboard the Yankee Freedom III Ferry! Cruise in spacious comfort to Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas National Park aboard the Yankee Freedom III, a high-speed ocean-going catamaran specifically designed for carrying passengers safely across the 70 miles of open water from Key West to the Park. The Yankee Freedom II is 100’ long and 60’ wide, a broad and stable vessel certified to carry 250 passengers; however, to maximize the comfort of each guest, we limit each trip to 175 passengers. Our veteran captain and friendly crew will take you to one of the most unique and spectacular national parks in the United States: The Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson, one of the top Key West attractions. Website: Instagram: Facebook: Twitter: YouTube:
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Tom Carbone, the owner of Carbone's Custom Firearms. We discuss how Tom got into the business and his passion for bringing firearm safety and understanding to the Florida Keys. Whether you are a gun lover or not, this is a great episode to get the understand from someone who has been in the business for decades. More on Carbone's Custom Firearms The Florida Keys longest established Class 2 Manufacturer and SOT holder. Rock River Arms Inc Law Enforcement dealer in Monroe County. We have been supplying the needs of Military and Law Enforcement around the country. We are now open and ready to serve all residents of Monroe County and the country. Come to the only firearms business where we have walked the walk and talked the talk. No flash, no fluff. Website: Instagram: Facebook: LinkedIn: 6810 Front Street, Unit 2 Key West, FL 33040 Phone: 305-923-5455
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Key West City Manager Greg Veliz (before the Covid-19 pandemic). We talked about Greg's journey from Conch to elected official, and all the bumps in-between. I love and admire Greg's tenacity and hope this episode teaches you that anything can happen with the right attitude. More on Greg Veliz The City Manager’s Department provides executive leadership in the management of all departments and enterprises of the City. The City Manager reports to the Mayor and Commissioners and responds to the needs of the public by proactively seeking public feedback. Website:
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Hillary to talk about how she became a stylist, how she made her way down to Key West, and why she decided to open her own Beauty Lounge right in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis. This episode is loaded with inspiration and is worth listening to (whether you are into hair or not :). More on Cayo Beauty Lounge by Hillary Our mission is to inspire the community of women by offering a unique and refreshing vibe, while providing top notch hair care and focusing on what we do best. Beautiful natural looking hair that turnsheads. Meet Hillary. Some call her the ‘hairwizard’, Hillary is the owner of Cayo Beauty Lounge. She prides herself on her innate ability to really listen to the clients wants and needs and turning it into a masterpiece. Her style signature look is creating a perfect low maintenance color that stays beautiful overtime. Hillary loves trendy hair with a classic and natural appeal. Her advanced cutting training has allowed her to give each and every woman a cut that suits their face, shape and hair texture. Website: Instagram: Facebook: CAYO BEAUTY LOUNGE 218 WHITEHEAD ST, KEY WEST, FL, 33040 On arrival KEYPAD ENTRY 2181. (504) 881-6046 Parking Instructions: Pay to park available in the Margaritaville Resort. Public parking garage. Off Street parking available nearby. Please allow 15 min to accomodate for parking. Salon is located inside the building. Privae access, down the hall to the left.
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Analise Andrews, the owner of Key West Food Tours. We talk about how she was raised in her Cuban grandmother’s Key West kitchen and how Analise Smith pursued a career in the food industry by starting Key West Food Tours in 2014. Combining a love for food with her hometown of Key West, Analise created a 3-hour, highly entertaining narrative weaving the island’s history on a tasting walking tour, visiting five local mom-and-pop restaurants. Today, Key West Food Tours offers its signature Southernmost Food Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour, Seafood Lover’s Walking Tour, and the Key West Craft Cocktail Crawl, consistently receiving #1 in TripAdvisor’s Food and Drink category for Key West, as well as TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence. More on Key West Food Tours Key West Food Tours was founded in 2014 to offer visitors of Key West a taste of authentic local culinary experiences while providing historical anecdotes, because, let’s face it, food tastes better when there’s a story behind it!  Here in Key West, food is an art, and art is what we know best. We islanders are known to be laid-back, creative, wacky, & friendly. Well, the chefs are no different.  We provide unique and original local culinary walking tours in a safe, sustainable, and environmentally responsible manner. Our goal is to create food memories that last a lifetime. By taking visitors off-the-beaten-path, you’ll discover engaging and knowledgeable local guides who are eager to share the most authentic and delicious version of Key West.  Here at Key West Food Tours, our team and tour guides are dedicated to giving you the best experience possible, while filling your bellies up with local favorites. We want to show you what our island has to offer: A rich history with cultural influences, and tasty local food! Website: Instagram: Facebook: Pinterest: Twitter: YouTube: Yelp: Tripadvisor: Email: Call: 305-570-2010
In this episode Mark Baratto sits down with Ben Teague of Ben Teague Design. We talk about how Ben took a leap of faith and went from working in a bank to doing what he loves. This episode has a ton of gems for those of you out there looking to escape the corporate world to work in a business you love to do. More on Ben Teague Design Calling Key West home for 15 years. Creating custom interiors for over 20 years. As a teenager, Ben’s mother foresaw his career path when he found a passion for home design and aesthetic while constantly rearranging his room. Today, only a couple of years later ;-) Ben is still following his passion while helping clients express theirs. Website: Instagram: Facebook:
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Jess Forsythe and Mike Kenna of Kenna Construction. We talk about how Mike got into the business, how he went from a classically trained chef to an expert contractor. We also learn how Jess acts as the glue to keep everything together and is the businesswoman that keeps the ship moving in the right direction. More on Kenna Construction Residential Renovation From Key West to Cudjoe Key. Interior, Exterior, Excavating!! Kitchens, Bathrooms, Flooring, Fences, Driveways, Home Additions, Decks, Siding, and more. Call or message for free project walk-through and estimate. Instagram: Facebook:
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