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 Back Yards 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!
13 Episodes
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In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with artist, gallery and studio owner, Anna Sweet. We talk about how she went from photographer to artist and hit pay dirt, her humble upbringing (1 of 9 kids), and how her competitive nature keeps her humble, yet drives her harder than ever to continue to grow. More on Anna Sweet Anna Sweet’s work marries a craftsman’s approach to material with an Art Nouveau influence. Known for her luminous underwater nudes, Sweet portrays the ethereal through harmonious modes of painting and photography. By employing radiant minerals and pigments, the artist reimagines familiar elements of nature and the female form, rendering them brilliantly new to the viewer’s eye.  Raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, above her mother’s art gallery, Sweet and her nine siblings were immersed in the art world from a young age. Perennially inspired by the light of the sun and the movement of the body, Sweet’s hand evokes the dynamic sensuality of beauty in motion, capturing transient moments of swim or dance. Revealing the sensuality and elegance of women throughout the most exotic waters of the world. Sweet engages minerals like mica, diamond dust, and glass on the image, Sweet’s mixed-medium approach offers an otherworldly experience. Sweet’s work mimics elements of her shooting environments and creates “effects like the glisten that occurs when the sun kisses the sea.” The photographic images and encased materials coalesce into a stunning, seemingly three dimensional representation of the subject. The subjects in this series are radiant displays of female beauty. Anna Sweet Gallery 513 Duval St Key West, FL 33040 Phone: 305-916-0578 Sunday-Monday 10am - 9pm Tuesday-Saturday 10am - 10pm Anna Sweet Studios 417 Southard St, Key West, FL 33040 On Social Website: https://www.annasweet.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annasweetgallery Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annasweetgallery/ Fantasy Fest Party This year Anna Sweet is throwing an amazing invite-only party in Key West during Fantasy Fest. This year she is creating art event that you will get to experience with every sense. Email gallery@annasweet.com for info. 
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Rich Pesce to talk about how he started his construction management business in Lower Manhattan months before September 11th, and how he became a real estate investor in three Key West Bed & Breakfast Inns: The Inn on Fleming, Coco Plum Inn Bed & Breakfast, and Key West Bed & Breakfast. We discuss the mindset needed when starting a business in one of the country’s hardest times, how to navigate the Key West real estate market, and how having the right business partner can make all the difference. I had the great pleasure of conducting this interview in one of Rich's homes in Old Town - known famously as the Calvin Klein Home (for the obvious reason 😎). Web & Social Website: http://merrickconstructiongroup.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/merrickconstructiongroup/ The Inn on Fleming Website: https://www.theinnonfleming.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheInnonFleming/ Coco Plum Inn Bed & Breakfast Website: https://www.cocopluminn.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cocopluminn/ Key West Bed & Breakfast Website: https://www.keywestbandb.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KeyWestBandB/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/keywestbedandbreakfast/
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with famed Chef Bill Hunt, the new head chef at the even more famous Smokin' Tuna Saloon. We talk about big changes happening at the Smokin' Tuna Saloon when it comes to their menu and how his Boston work ethic mixed with his trust in the people that work for him, creates a recipe for success The Smokin' Tuna Saloon Key West's premier bustling, open-air hangout featuring 2 bars, and live music on the courtyard stage; and is the musical residence of local musician superstar, Caffeine Carl and The Buzz. The restaurant and bar features delicious local seafood, tasty drinks, and world-famous t-shirts! Enjoy incredible food from the amazing Chef Bill seven days a week! Hours BAR: 11am - 2am RESTAURANT: 11:30am - 11pm daily MERCANTILE: 10am - 10pm HAPPY HOUR: 3pm - 5pm Address & Phone 4 Charles Street, Key West, FL 33040 - Call (305) 517-6350 Website & Social Website: https://smokintunasaloon.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/smokintuna Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/smokintunasaloon
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Jenny Lorenz, the Director of Marketing at The Perry Hotel Key West. We go over why the Hotel chose Stock Island to call itself home, all of the expansion plans happening in November (2019), and the truth about booking your hotel with an online company, compared to going direct (HINT - you get free upgrades when you go direct). Attention Key West Locals! Local Appreciation is ending on September 30th!! This means that there are only a few days left where locals can get the Buy 1 Dinner Entrée, Get 1 Free for sheer food bliss, at either Matt's Stock Island Kitchen & Bar or The Salty Oyster Dockside Bar & Grill. Plus, add a growler of one of their new signature beers for only $15! More on The Perry Hotel Key West Inspired by Commodore Perry, the father of the United States Navy, The Perry Hotel's easy, laid-back atmosphere has been thoughtfully cultivated to stay true to the seafaring roots of Old Key West. Discover a place transformed and a history reclaimed at the award-winning Perry Hotel, breathing new life into our beloved Stock Island. Some Hotel Amenities 100 guest rooms Water views all around Two restaurants, including pool/dockside bar Indoor/outdoor dining Waterfront swimming pool Outdoor fire pits Direct access to marina and ocean Water activities available onsite Dog-friendly hotel & rooms Two dog parks Local artist curations and studios On-site scooter & bike rentals Green Pineapple Boutique ADA Accessible Features Website: https://www.perrykeywest.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/perrykeywest Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PerryKeyWest Twitter: https://twitter.com/perrykeywest Location: 7001 Shrimp Road Key West, FL 33040 +1 (305) 296-1717 **Music by MG Sound.  Check him out on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/mgsoundmusic
Have you ever seen the movie "Chef" and dreamed of selling it all, buying a food truck and hitting the open road? In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down, (right outside the food truck) with Amy Clarke-Van Schoor, one of the co-owners of the highly addicting, Taco Grilla. We talk about how they got started and what really goes into the "Food Truck" life. More on Taco Grilla Born from the idea that more food from his home island needed to be fresh and healthy, chef Riaan Van Schoor and his wife Amy Clarke-Van Schoor created Taco Grilla. Taco Grilla Likes cooking for its locals... especially his Key West Sirens. Keeping the Sirens full, keeps peace on the island. When the Sirens aren't full they go after the Fishing Charters stealing all the fish, leaving the tourists very unhappy... which leaves the charter captains unhappy... which leaves the local business unhappy. So feed your Siren Taco Grilla and the whole Island will be happy.  Taco Grilla offers Tacos, Burritos, Bowls, Smoothies.and tons of creative cuisine bursting with flavor that won't bust your wallet. Vegan options are available. Healthy food all around. Website: https://www.tacogrilla.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pg/tacogrilla Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/tacogrilla You may have noticed our new Podcast intro original music. I wanted to take the time to thank MG Sound for creating these soulful tunes. To listen to more of his work, check him out on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/mgsoundmusic
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Billy Kearins of Coast Projects. We talk about his humble beginnings, his love of Folk music, and how his local Key West shirt company is setting up to make some giant waves. Also, be on the lookout for Billy's film, "Keasy Rider" which comes out on September 17th at Tropic Cinema for the 72 Hour Film Challenge. What is COAST? We get that question a lot. And the truth is, it’s hard to explain — not because it’s abstract — but more so because you can look at it from many angles, and you can take from it as little or as much as you want. Sure, we’re about bikes and boards and life by the sea — which is why we chose the purposefully ambiguously name COAST. But we’re about more than those tangible things that you see on the showroom floor and in the web store. COAST is, in a general sense, about life on the edge — where land meets sea and the spirit of exploration and unknowing meet the safety of the shoreline. At COAST, we build the goods we need to lead the life we want to live — just like people did not too long ago. And with these time-honored tools in hand, we set out to push limits and to see what we’re made of – life on the edge. But we also like to kick back our bare feet and enjoy life — coast along if you will. And it’s this space — the blurring of work, play, and everyday life by the sea — that COAST is really about. Coast Projects website: https://www.coastprojects.com Instagram: http://instagram.com/CoastProjects Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CoastProjects Twitter: https://twitter.com/CoastProjects
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Adam Russell, one half of the successful Key West Pottery, in his famed gallery on the doubly famed, Duval Street. The audio is a bit dodgy on this episode, but there were too many brain nuggets to not publish it. We talked about the artist journey and taking a leap of faith, moving cross country with nothing but a dream, and how his wife and co-artist Kelly Lever, got him started down the pottery rabbit hole. We also discussed how he got his massive Instagram following, and how we all need to let our "artist side" out more often. More on Key West Pottery Key West Pottery is a love story. Originated in 2009 by the artists Adam Russell and Kelly Lever, Key West Pottery (or “Honest Works Island Pottery” as it was originally called) was always meant as a joint endeavor between two creatives for one succinct purpose— FREEDOM. Freedom in all the obvious ways we conceive of it; free use of time, financial freedom, creative freedom, etc… The resulting decade of intense collaboration has brought about the realization that we have also achieved another type of freedom— liberation from the confines of a single mind. We are a unique blend. Part traditional production pottery— tableware and traditional function. Vessels being created in house by the hundreds. Part Fine Art Studio— monumental outdoor sculpture and interior decor to create places and visions. Our Company has grown to include a small army of artisans, creatives, advisors, students and collaborators who are working together with us to produce an authentic expression of this modern, coastal life — without relying on cliché. As the epitome of authentic artwork made in the Florida Keys, we carry a diverse selection of bespoke items — from the Island’s BEST coffee mugs to award-winning totems, visitors encounter the most well-rounded Gallery program on Duval Street. Over this last decade, we have developed a brand of tropical modernism that is unique and diverse enough to fit into any home or collection. Our Gallery, at the center of the Historic Key West Gallery District, is the quintessential Key West Pottery experience, but we love to communicate and collaborate online as well. We believe that you will find Key West Pottery to be a soulful and sincere art experience that ties you to the local’s perspective of coastal life. Website: https://www.keywestpottery.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/Keywestpottery Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/keywestpottery Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/keywestpottery  
In the episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Tricia Coyne, the owner of the modern chef-driven Firefly restaurant. We talk about Fireball shots, Great White sharks, her Bubba Award, and how she took her restaurant idea from a college dream into a successful Key West hotspot. More About Firefly Restaurant Firefly is a modern, chef-driven Southern restaurant. They focus on using the best ingredients and a mixture of traditional and modern techniques to create the best possible versions of familiar dishes. Their extensive beer and wine lists feature the same attention to detail and unique products to create something that is at once old and new. They are located between Blue Heaven and Santiago's Bodega on Petronia Street. Tricia Coyne comes from a southern family from Louisiana and was raised in the foodie haven of Atlanta. With a love for the water and things with sharp teeth, she delved into a degree in marine biology from UCLA. After traveling the world to swim with sharks and work as a scuba instructor, she chose to revisit her love for all things edible. She found herself with a second bachelors degree in Food and Beverage Management with a specialization in wine. Tricia sharpened her skills in the belly of Atlanta, including a management internship under acclaimed chef/owner Anne Quatrano at Bachanalia, one of the most revered restaurants in the south, a stint managing for Richard Blais of Flip Burger and Top Chef acclaim, and time managing with Genki Sushi. After Atlanta, Tricia found herself Working at Key West’s well known Lattitude’s on Sunset Key as a manager.  Tricia’s ideas for Firefly were conceived before she had finished her degree. With a plethora of experience under her belt, she bit the bullet in 2013 and Firefly has been serving up the best chef-driven southern cuisine in South Florida ever since. Tricia’s love for Sharks has stayed with her, and she serves as Vice President of Reef Relief. In her free time, she enjoys Legos, wine, and the Oxford comma. About Executive Chef – Russ Ferstle Chef Russ Ferstle grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where his love of cooking began as a matter of survival since his mother was such a horrible cook. As Russ grew up, he continued into the restaurant industry in Michigan, apprenticing under French chef Tim Enfield. Eager to learn more, he moved to Chicago in 2003 to gain experience in Chicago’s food scene. He was hired as the sous chef for Sweets and Savories with David Richards, then stayed on with the company to open Barcello’s as chef de cuisine. In 2008, fed up with the cold, Russ relocated to Key West, where he became the chef de cuisine at the Upper Deck at Louie’s Backyard. In 2013, Russ left Louie’s to help open Firefly, where he remains executive chef. In his free time, Russ enjoys tattoos, silver coins, and conspiracy theories. Website: http://www.fireflykeywest.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fireflykeywest Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FireflyKeyWest Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/firefly-key-west-key-west-4?osq=firefly+key+west
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Keith St. Peter, the owner of Kojin Noodle Bar and once famed, "The Porch," on his new venture, GlitchCraft. We talk about why he and his partners are keeping the bar scene cool and scratching their itch by creating a place they love hanging out at themselves. It's all about the locals and the community at Glitch, which you can tell, is here to stay for a very long time. More on GlitchCraft by Keys Weekly Walking into Glitch feels like walking back in time, maybe into your best friend’s basement, if your best friend was the coolest nerd in the school. The massive leather chairs, a wall of action figures, stacks of board games and craft beers galore on draft make it a happy amalgam of past and present. It reminds you of being a teenager, but it satisfies the desires of the grown-up: a perfect espresso, a comfy chair, some (relative) peace and quiet. A departure from the chaos of downtown was part of the inspiration for this Simonton Street retreat. Owners Keith St. Peter, Adam Levin, and Justin “Willy” Woods have been ruminating on the idea for years, but it only recently came to fruition. Read the rest of the article here Instagram: https://instagram.com/GlitchCraft_ Facebook: https://facebook.com/GlitchCafeandGameRoom/
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Kristy Geary, the owner of Love In Bloom flower shop.  We talk about her days as a youngster at Sloppy Joes, how she took a leap of faith and jumped head first into a brand new business, and all her secret spots in Key West. MORE ABOUT LOVE IN BLOOM Love In Bloom Florist is a boutique flower shop that & has been locally owned and operated for over 10 years.  Kristy Geary followed her dream of moving to Key West in 2001. Kristy is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati Design Art Architecture and Planning school. Her background in 3 dimensional, 2 dimensional and digital design brings a unique perspective to the art of floral design. After planning the perfect Key West wedding from afar, Heather Lamaine and husband Matt moved to Key West in 2012.  Heather is the main contact for our couples who are planning their destination weddings. Our top priority is to understand their vision and then guide couples in the right direction to make choices in floral décor that enhances the already beautiful and unique venues in Key West.  Heather is a graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University with a degree in Hospitality Management. Together they have built a team of local design consultants and floral designers that are creative, enthusiastic and passionate about flowers. Clients can feel comfortable and confident knowing they are working with a local florist that has a close working relationship with the vendors and venues in Key West. We love destination weddings and are very experienced in working with the bride or client from day one through the big event.  You can find out more about Love In Bloom in the below places: Website:  http://www.loveinbloomflorist.com Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/loveinbloomkeywest/?hl=en Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/loveinbloomkw/ Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/loveinbloomflorist
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