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!
46 Episodes
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In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Casey Arnold of the Conch Republic Seafood Company. We talk about the history of the historic building, all the food options, and their infamous happy hour. Take note that this was recorded before the COVID lockdown, be as of June 5th, the bar at the restaurant will be open for business :) More on Conch Republic Seafood Company Experience true dock-to-dish dining as you enjoy the incredible views of the Historic Seaport inside our fully open-air restaurant! Often, you’ll see our very own fleet of boats unloading their catches of fresh fish, stone crab, and Caribbean Lobster! Website: https://conchrepublicseafood.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/conchrepublicseafoodcompany/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ConchRepublicSeafood/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/ConchFarm
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with chef and co-owner Babeth to discuss how the business was affected during the COVID-19 shutdown, how this family-owned business is surviving, and some tips on doing the same. This is my first interview back after the shutdown and we laughed, shared stories, and I ate... a little too much! More on La Grignote Artisan French Bistro Website: http://lagrignotecafe.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lagrignote/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/La-Grignote-170784603348283/ OUR STORY: A FRENCH COUPLE LIVING THE AMERICAN DREAM La Grignote cafe is family-owned by Joel and Babeth, a couple in life. After falling in love with the island on his first visit to Key West in 1995, and spending a year there, it took Joel 20 years to fulfill his dream to move there permanently. In the meantime he met Babeth, a french baker aspiring to open a bakery in Florida, and they opened "La Grignote" in September 2016. "We decided to make everything from scratch with high-quality ingredients. We also want to be a part of the neighborhood, the community not just cater to tourists." Today, we are recognized as the best bakery, place to eat by the whole community. We have gotten so successful that we opened another bakery called “La Petite Grignote” located on 517 Fleming street in Key West. La Grignote Cafe 1211 Duval Street Key West, FL, 33040, USA La Petite Grignote 517 Fleming street Key West, FL, 33040, USA Phone: 305-916-5445
NOTE - this episode was recorded months before COVID-19 lockdown. I hope you enjoy this interview, and get ready for some new episodes soon, as Key West begins to open back up June 1st. This episode Mark Baratto sits down with celebrity mixologist Russell Davis. We talk about how Russell got into the business, how he rose up the bartender ranks, and how he because a celebrity Bar/Mixology expert for Spike TV's "Bar Rescue" and how he became "2012 Bartender of the Year." More on Russell Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mrrusselldavis Twitter: https://twitter.com/MrRussellDavis Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MrRussellDavis/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/MrRussellDavis
NOTE - Here is another pre COVID-19 episode. I am happy to say that Frita's is back open and serve their delicious food. In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with the owner of Frita's Cuban Burger Cafe, c During this episode, we danced, we sang (well Marcia does) and I ate one of their famous Cuban Burger! More on Frita's Cuban Burger Cafe Website: http://fritascubanburgers.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fritascuban/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Fritas-Cuban-Burger-Cafe-301558923350863/ Fritas Cuban Burger Cafe opened in 2014 with the goal of bringing the Cuban flavors of the “Frita” to Key West, Florida. Just steps from the famous Duval Street, Frita’s provides a variety of tastes and experiences. Relax inside the Cafe where, along with our signature Fritas, you’ll enjoy delicious traditional Cuban and fusion sandwiches as well as tacos. Complete your meal with our homemade pastries, scoops and shakes made with locally crafted premium ice cream. Cool down with a glass of sangria, or take one to go! The Frita is a heavenly burger with origins in 1930’s Cuba where they were considered a native street food. Frita’s exclusive recipes were developed slowly and lovingly with visits to Cuba and assistance from Cuban friends. They are a mouthwatering blend of beef and pork burger seasoned with Spanish spices and topped with a special sauce and crispy fried julienne potatoes, all sandwiched on a Cuban bun. Salty, savory, sweet and crunchy. Fritas Cuban Burger Cafe is the brainchild of entrepreneur Marcia Weaver who also owns and operates Boston Cigar Factory, proud purveyors of handmade cigars rolled in the Cuban tradition. Contact Info: 425 Southard St Key West, Florida 33040 Phone: (305) 509-7075
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Aaron Pearlman, the General Manager of Prime Steakhouse Key West. We talk about the restaurant's history, how they stay upscale, but with a relaxed island vibe, and how they keep their food consistently amazing in our tiny island paradise. A Message from Prime Steakhouse Finally a light at the end of the tunnel! ☀️With the latest update this Friday we will be reopening our doors to our island friends & family! We will be running our September locals specials as well as half price stone crab claws 🦀 Indoor & outdoor seating will be available so reservations are recommended but not necessary. If you’re looking to celebrate a missed birthday, anniversary or would just like to have a sense of normalcy again, we would love to serve you! Our doors will open at 5:30pm. Take out & delivery will still be available as well 🥩 🦞 🍷• More on Prime Steakhouse Website: https://primekeywest.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/primesteakhousekeywest/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PrimeKeyWest Address: 951 Caroline St, Key West, FL 33040 Phone: (305) 296-4000 Since opening in 2005, PRIME has quickly become the premier steakhouse in the Florida Keys. Impeccably prepared prime beef is the star at PRIME, cooked to perfection in ovens nearing 1,000 degrees. Under the supervision of the executive chef, there’s more to Prime than just great steaks!! Locally caught lobster tails, daily fresh fish specials from Key West fishermen, nightly pasta special, or whole yellowtail snapper, deep-fried and cleverly seasoned are just a few of the treats that await the non-carnivores. Chef Kim Quach has been pleasing palettes in the keys for over ten years and has brought his creativity and passion to PRIME. Jumbo lump crab cakes, carpaccio of filet mignon, or garlicky escargot are just a few starters that locals rave about. And don’t forget the Truffled Mac and Cheese, PRIME’S signature side. Whether you prefer steaks or seafood, we’ve selected wines from Italy, France and the USA, that will pair perfectly with your dinner. Whether you choose to dine al frescoe on our terrace or in our intimate dining room, you will enjoy a superior level of service that will make your dinner at PRIME extraordinary!!
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Master Framer, Jeff Rodriguez. Jeff is the co-owner of DE LA Gallery, located in Key West, FL and Charleston, SC, AND the co-owner of Art Warehouse, located in Key West. I visited Jeff at his Key West gallery where we talked about his wildly talented partner, photographer/artist Jorge de la Torriente, how they met, and how they turned a dream into a thriving business. This episode was recorded on the 3rd of March, right before the shut down for COVID-19 began. NOTE - Jeff and I recorded an intro on this episode that was recorded on Thursday, April 30th, to talk about the status of both galleries and how he is offering additional sources of income for digital photographers out there. More on DE LA Gallery Website: https://www.delagallery.com Intagram: https://www.instagram.com/delagallery/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeLaGallery/ WHO WE ARE We’re photographer/artist Jorge de la Torriente and master framer Jeffrey Rodriguez. We started out as friends and now we are family. We specialize in large format coastal, seaside, & landscape fine art photography. We print and frame all of the images in-house, where Jorge's singular artistic vision + Jeffrey’s precision, expert craftsmanship and attention to detail combine to make each piece one of a kind.  We specialize in serving new and seasoned collectors looking for one-of-a-kind, museum-quality, and large format fine art photography through our Key West gallery and our online home. WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT We’re not a collective run by artists or a traditional art gallery. As a self-represented artist with my own gallery, you’ll enjoy a tailored buying experience because you are buying directly from the artist. We get to know our collectors individually. Which allows us to provide a highly customized art buying experience, that is designed to meet your specific needs as a collector. We use the latest in printing, framing techniques and technology to produce everything in house. This allows us to produce a museum quality finished piece that very few can reproduce. Our finished pieces are all individually made to order, and we offer lots of flexibility in customizing the art to fit your need. If you’re in town, we invite you to visit us in person. We’re located across from the historic La Concha Hotel on Duval St. Come in, relax and enjoy the calming visions of the Florida Keys and surrounding areas. Let us help you find that special piece that’s meant to be in your collection. If you’re shopping with us online, we invite you to explore our site. Browse limited edition collections or sign up for our newsletter to keep up with the latest DE LA Gallery news. Gallery Locations KEY WEST 419 Duval St Key West, FL 33040 (305) 395-2210 CHARLESTON 36 North Market St. Unit #102 Charleston, SC 29401  The Art Warehouse Website: http://www.artwarehousekw.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/artwarehousekw/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Art-Warehouse-127489124009667/ Art Warehouse.  The Custom Framing Experts. At Art Warehouse, we believe art and creativity are all inspired by people, places, and things in the world around us.  Come visit our showroom and let us share some inspiring custom framing ideas with you. Family owned and operated for 34 years, we cater to the picture framing needs of everyone from fine art galleries to a proud mom framing her child's first drawing.   Whether you are preserving a precious heirloom or enhancing the look of a piece of art, Art Warehouse is the name you can trust.  Our passion lies in seeing the genuine look of enjoyment and satisfaction on our customer's faces.  Come check us out.  We love what we do! Location 3436 Duck Ave Key West, FL 33040 (305) 307-6102
**NOTE** This episode was recorded in December, 2019. During the Coronavirus crisis, the Cuban Coffee Queen is open from 7AM - 3PM for takeout and still delivering all of Key West up to Cow Key Bridge. In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with head barista and manager, Irena Dalton at the iconic Cuban Coffee Queen. We talk about how the brand began, and how they are keeping locals and Key West tourists caffeinated on a daily basis. More on the Cuban Coffee Queen “One day in Cuba, I met a lady who made the best coffee and Cuban toast. She told us stories and showed me how to make a real cafe con leche. I will never forget the Cuban coffee Queen.” Website: https://www.cubancoffeequeen.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cuban_coffee_queen_/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CubanCoffeeQueenKeyWest Twitter: https://twitter.com/KeyWestCoffee Waterfront (original location!)284 Margaret Street Key West, FL 33040 Phone: 305.292.4747 Pick-up only Downtown (corner of Southard and Duval)5 Key Lime Square Key West, FL 33040 Phone: 305.294.7787 Delivery, Pick-up Clinton Square Market  291 Front Street #6 Key West, FL 33040 Phone: 305.922.2896 Pick-up only
**NOTE** This episode was recorded in November 2019 and published on my other podcast, The Songwriters Podcast. In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with singer, songwriter, guitarists, storyteller, sailor and road warrior, Scott Kirby. We talk about his long career as a musician, and where he goes for writing inspiration, and how a little bit of luck took him a long way. More on Scott Website: https://www.scottkirby.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/scottkirbykeywest/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scottkirby.keywest Singer, songwriter, guitarist, storyteller, sailor and road warrior are all words that aptly describe Scott Kirby. Writing songs for a new CD, performing 150 live shows a year throughout the US and Canada, and holding down the stage at his own club—Key West’s Smokin’ Tuna Saloon—keep the barnacles off this modern-day troubadour. A creative lyricist and accomplished finger-style acoustic guitarist with an expressive voice, Kirby describes himself as a direct descendant of the ’70s singer/songwriter movement. His very first 45 was a Beatles record, and he came of musical age listening to James Taylor and other great songwriters of that era. He has never received any formal musical training but often credits Taylor with teaching him how to play the acoustic guitar. “If it weren’t for the hundreds of solitary hours in my room in Concord, New Hampshire, with a guitar and a James Taylor book, I never would have learned to play,” says Kirby. Speaking of New Hampshire and musical influences, let’s not forget fellow New Hampshire native Tom Rush who was taking the folk scene by storm in Kirby’s formative years. Coincidentally, Kirby connected with both of these artists in Key West 30 years later, which is a whole other story. After a few years in high school bands and a stint in his early 20s as a bass guitarist with a group, Kirby drifted away from music and became immersed in a career in politics: managing campaigns, writing and producing radio and TV ads, and overseeing the office of a leader in the New Hampshire legislature. He was also guitarless for eight years! In 1988, however, after tiring of the political rat race and the length and severity of New England winters, he bought a new guitar, relentlessly practiced his chops, and planned his escape. Six months later Kirby was living in Key West and performing five nights a week on a balmy beach facing the Gulf of Mexico. Kirby started writing songs after some inspirational late-night words from legendary songwriter Shel Silverstein and further encouragement from Peter Mayer, who had just joined the Coral Reefer Band. A year later he found himself recording his first CD, Too Damn Yankee, in Jimmy Buffett’s Shrimpboat Sound Studio with Peter and Jim Mayer and Roger Guth. “This was a very lucky break for me, but I was in a bit over my head,” says Kirby. “Peter, Jim and Roger were incredibly patient with me and it was a fantastic learning experience.” Between 1993 and 2006, Kirby continued to write new material and recorded four more CDs with Key West producer/engineer Dan Simpson. In 2008 luck struck again when famed drummer/producer Russ Kunkel offered to produce Kirby’s Row Me Home CD at his studio in Los Angeles. “Next thing I know I’m cutting my songs in the Hollywood Hills with Russ, bassist Leland Sklar and guitarist Dean Parks and feeling like the luckiest guy in the world.” Speaking of luck, Kirby’s wistful ballad “Lucky Enough” struck a chord with listeners on Sirius/XM Radio Margaritaville, which exposed his music to more markets around the country and led to his current touring schedule through 35 states each year. He continues to receive regular airplay on the station. Kirby joined a group of friends in 2011 to open the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon, a 200-seat bar and music venue in Key West where Kirby performs often in winter months. The Tuna is also host to the Key West Songwriter’s Festival. The festival is in its 20th year and has exploded into the largest event of its kind in the country, featuring more than 150 songwriters every year. In 2013 Kirby released his seventh CD, Sol Searching, a collaboration with producer/engineer/musician Lew London. “Lew was great to work with as he’s so multi-talented,” says Kirby. “He performed for years with Steve Goodman and is such a fine songwriter in his own right that he really understands how to build a sound around acoustically based songs.” Scott  Kirby’s latest CD, Chasing Hemingway’s Ghost, was recorded with and produced by Matt and Andy Thompson in their studio in Nashville and released in 2017. When it comes to songwriting, Kirby respects authenticity and counts on everyday life and his coastal roots for much of his inspiration. “I don’t wake up every day thinking about writing the next commercial hit,” says Kirby. “Songwriting for me is about telling stories, expressing emotions, and commentary on things I may find funny or absurd.” Over the years Kirby has shared the stage with some of his favorite artists: Carole King, Jimmy Buffett, Livingston Taylor, Tom Rush, Mac McAnally, Peter Mayer and others. When not on the road or performing in Key West, Kirby splits his time between Livingston, Montana, and the coast of New Hampshire where he can often be found sailing, a lifelong passion of this descendant of Newfoundland fishermen. Yes, Scott Kirby is—as he readily admits—lucky enough.
This episode was recorded months before COVID-19 happened, and Social Distancing was the new catchphrase. I spoke with their team today and they wanted to let you know that they are OPEN FOR BUSINESS from 12pm - 8pmevery day for TAKE OUT ONLY during the crisis. Location: 1105 Duval Street, Key West, Florida In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Robin Bartley, the head ice cream maker. We talk about the love of sweet delicious Key West ice cream, which puts a smile on everyone's face 😎. More on Flaming Crossing Ice Cream Since 1987 Flamingo Crossing makes all its ice cream on the premises with the finest ingredients and is without doubt the best ice cream in Key West. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/flamingo_crossing Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/flamingocrossing.keywest/
This episode is a first for me. As some of you may know, I record these episodes months in advance and have collected 6 months' worth of podcasts to put out. With times like this, I reached out to Scott Atwell, the Executive VP & CEO of the Key West Chamber of Commerce to bring you as many helpful tips as we can for your business. We recorded this episode on April 2nd, and it is airing on April 3rd, so we can provide the best up to date information. You may have heard my offering within this episode. Below is my email address, and if you don't have a website or social medial account and you are a Key West business, I am offering my service free of charge to get you up and running. You can email me at mark@backyardsofkeywest.com and we can have a chat about getting you up and running. Also, if you want to start your very own podcast, I put together a how-to guide found here: https://backyardsofkeywest.com/how-to-start-a-podcast/ Lastly, here is the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application link I mentioned: https://covid19relief.sba.gov/ More on the Key West Chamber of Commerce “The mission of the Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce is to serve its members and maintain and promote a viable economy for the businesses and working people of Key West” For more information on how the Key West Chamber can help you or your business please contact them at 305-294-2587. Website: https://www.keywestchamber.org Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/keywestchamber/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KeyWestChamber/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/keywestchamber Small Business Help A message from the Chamber: There are four different programs featured in our recent newsletter, shared by SBDC. These include:  • the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program • SBA Payroll Support through the CARES Act • Florida DEO Payroll Support Program.  These loans are different than ones that have been offered in previous disasters. For the recap of those programs shared in the newsletter, go to https://bit.ly/347v4o7 For the FAQ forwarded to us by US Senator Rick Scotts Office on the CARES Act, go to https://bit.ly/343eZjd For the Coronavirus and a Business Assistance Program Information sheet provided by Monroe County, go to https://bit.ly/3aNcaFu Several of our local financial institutions can assist their customers with SBA loans, although they are waiting for further instructions from the Federal Government you can reach out to your local bank for future guidance.  First State Bank of the Florida Keys  Existing First State Bank customers who would like to be contacted to apply as soon as the SBA program is released, can fill out a Contact Request Form on the Bank’s website www.KeysBank.com/sba-loan-contact-request or contact Brad Lutz, AVP Commercial Lending, at 305-293-7163 or BradL@KeysBank.com.   For non-SBA loans, call 305-296-8535. BB&T, now Truist Both new and Existing clients seeking CARES solutions should contact Jay W. Hall or Dale Bittner directly at:   Jay W. Hall: 305-292-3832 or jay.hall@bbandt.com Dale Bittner: 305-292-3842 or dbittner@bbandt.com Centennial Bank Existing Customers can reach out to their loan officer directly; non-customers can contact Mark Todaro at 305-676-3145.  IBERIABANK  Existing Customers can contact the following: Jacqueline Luhta, Business Development Officer, 305-809-8987 Trich Worthington, Group Branch Manager, 305-289-5820
***NOTE*** This episode was recorded months ago before the Coronavirus began. If you like this episode, even the tiniest bit, please reach out to Rodriguez Cigars and order from him online to help support: https://rodriguezcigarskeywest.com Use promo code:  FAMILIA to get 20% off. In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with a third generational owner of Rodriguez Cigars, Danny Difabio. We talked about a number of origin stories, like how Danny's Grandfather coming over from Cuba, how the business made it down to Key West, and how it was Danny's destiny to take over the family business. More on Rodriguez Cigars In 1947, the Rodriguez Family began the masterful art of cultivating tobacco on their private plantation in the town of Siguaney. The tobacco plantation was called, La Finca de Carmencita. Located in the Las Villas province of Cuba, La Finca de Carmencita specialized in growing, aging, and curing filler tobacco leaves for numerous manufacturers throughout Cuba. By 1952, La Finca Carmencita employed over 20 workers and grew over 120,000 pounds of tobacco annually. Eight years later, the Cuban government nationalized the private plantation and the Rodriguez family was forced to immigrate to the United States. In 1971, the Rodriguez family found a new beginning on the beautiful island of Key West and established the Rodriguez Cigar Factory. Founded in 1984, we stand as the oldest cigar manufacturer in the Florida Keys preserving the historical cigar manufacturing industry that began in Key West in 1831. As the years passed new generation of family members have expanded manufacturing operations to Nicaragua and we are proud to be working with some of the finest tobacco in the world. Rodriguez Cigars are exclusively constructed with vintage leaves that have been hand-selected, aged and constructed through the traditional Cuban manufacturing process. Website: https://rodriguezcigarskeywest.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rodriguezcigars/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rodriguez.cigars Twitter: https://twitter.com/rodriguezcigars   Address: 113 Fitzpatrick St, Key West, FL 33040 Phone: (305) 296-0167     Normal Hours: 9:30AM - 4:30PM (Monday - Sunday)  
Hi everyone! This episode was recorded months before all this Coronavirus-mania all started, but gives a little insight into things to come when we get back to normal :-) ***PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL RESTAURANT*** In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Courtney Wilson and Jenny Robinson of Mellow Cafe and Gastropub. More on Mellow Cafe You’re looking for something new. Well, this is not-your-usual coastal fare – in a good way. That means uncommonly healthy, flavorful preparations, with a generous dose of inspiration. Check back for specials and seasonal updates. This menu never goes stale. Website: https://www.mellowkw.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mellowventureskeywest/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MellowVenturesKeyWest
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Alex Risius (Assistant Program Director) and Mill McCleary (Executive Program Director) to talk about the data behind what's happening to our coral reefs. We talk about how Reef Relief® is making a difference on a global scale, and how tiny changes you make, can make a big difference to our oceans. Reef Relief® is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to improving and protecting our coral reef ecosystem. Reef Relief® Goals Focus on rigorous science to educate the public & advocacy toward policymakers to achieve conservation, protection, and restoration of coral reefs Increase public awareness of the importance and value of living coral reef ecosystems  Increase scientific understanding and knowledge of living coral reef ecosystems  Strengthen grassroots community-based efforts to protect coral reef ecosystems Design, develop, support, and implement strategies for marine protected areas associated with coral reef ecosystems Encourage and support eco-tourism as part of sustainable community development that protects and preserves coral reef ecosystems Strengthen our organizational capacity to carry out our mission Reef Relief is a registered 501(c)3 organization. Website: https://www.reefrelief.org Instagram: https://instagram.com/reefrelief/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reefrelief Twitter: https://twitter.com/reefrelief YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/thereefrelief Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/reefrelief/ Email: reefrelief@gmail.com Our Work Discover Coral Reefs School Program This program provides ocean education to over 6,000 K-12th grade students from public and private schools throughout the Florida Keys. The Discover Coral Reefs School Program, teaches K- 12th grade students from Key West to Miami the importance of ocean and coastal ecosystems through activities in the classroom and on the water. The program supplements the current science curriculum of these schools by focusing on marine science lessons that are of particular importance to students and families residing in Florida. Coral Camp The Coral Camp Summer Program uses interactive activities and field trips to teach children 6- 14 years of age about ocean ecology, coral reefs, marine life and sustainability. Camp activities include lessons on the identification of common corals, fish, and invertebrates, oceanography, tides, symbiosis, snorkel etiquette and leave no trace principles. Each year Reef Relief offers scholarships sponsored by local businesses and community members so that children regardless of income have a chance to participate in this unique program. Over the summer, 260 local and vacationing youth will take part in the program. Community & Environmental Stewardship In partnership with community groups and government agencies, Reef Relief coordinates volunteer programs that cultivate an attitude of stewardship within the community. Since 2010, Reef Relief’s coastal clean-up program has removed over 150,000 lbs of marine debris from the shores and waters of the Florida Keys. Reef Relief has partnered with the City of Key West to educate residents and visitors about stormwater and local water quality through the Stormwater Education and Outreach Project. The Key West High School Reef Relief Club and alternative spring break volunteers each year have stenciled storm drains throughout the City of Key West with no dumping messages. Other Stormwater Education Programs we run include our “Skip the Straw” Campaign, “Protect your Skin, Protect our Reef” sunscreen campaign, and our storm drain stenciling project. Reef Education The distribution of nearly 100,000 brochures to Florida Keys locations including resorts, hotels and guesthouses, Chambers of Commerce, educational facilities, visitor centers and more are an important way to educate the public about our fragile ecosystem. Information found in the “Don’t Teach Your Trash to Swim” poster, “Coral Reef Guide for Kids of All Ages” brochure, “Coral Reefs” brochure and the “Florida Keys is a No Discharge Zone for Boater Sewage” brochure are all important resources to inform the general public. Join in our efforts to improve and protect our coral reef ecosystem. Policy Guidance For 32 years, Reef Relief has made, considerable progress to improve water quality and protect, fish and wildlife of Florida’s coral reef ecosystems by working with environmental, scientific and governmental leaders in Florida. Reef Relief’s State Program Director Dr. Jeff Sharkey and his staff at the Capitol Alliance Group are a driving force for improved water quality. In support of this effort, Reef Relief become a member of the Everglades Coalition in 2012. The Everglades Coalition is an alliance of 57 local, state and national environmental organizations. It is dedicated to the full restoration of the greater Everglades ecosystem encompassing the lakes that connect to Lake Okeechobee, the River of Grass, Florida Bay and the Florida Keys. Reef Relief will continue to monitor Federal and State activities on water quality, ocean policy, fisheries, and marine species. Key West Marine Park In 2012, Reef Relief took over management of the Key West Marine Park through a partnership with the City of Key West. This swim park will become a focal point for Reef Relief’s marine education and scientific programs. These will include the design and implementation of a snorkel trail by Reef Relief staff, partners, and volunteers within the Key West Marine Park. This will be the first interpretive snorkel trail in North America. The park provides an interactive outdoor learning site for students of all ages. The three buoyed areas are for swimming and snorkeling and are closed to motorized vessels. For boaters, there are two access lanes to the shoreline. Key West Marine Park brochure The public can access the Key West Marine Park from four locations: South Beach at the southern end of Duval St., Dog Beach at the end of Vernon Street, the Mary and John Spottswood Waterfront Park at the foot of Seminole Street, and Higgs Beach from Reynolds Street to White Street. The Marine Park is located off of Higgs Beach at Atlantic Boulevard, 525 Angela Street. Free to the public Reef Relief Environmental Center The Reef Relief Environmental Center introduces visitors, school groups, and community members to the coral reef ecosystem, its threats and what can be done to protect our marine world. A theater shows free daily films related to marine resource issues. A variety of brochures and other printed materials are available to learn more coral reefs and the issues affecting them. The center is located in the historic Old Town of Key West. The Reef Relief Environmental Center is located at 631 Greene Street in Key West, FL 33040 Open Monday – Friday Hours 10am-4pm. Free admission.
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Len Johnson, the co-owner of Better Than Sex - A Dessert Restaurant, to talk about where Len's wife Dani gets her inspiration as head baker, and how she "tested" her recipes on all their dinner guests. We talk about the genius behind the restaurant's name (it was all Dani's idea), how they had the "guts" to even start this business after the recession, and how changing their client focus catapulted the brand. Be on the lookout for the Better Than Sex podcast, and don't forget to visit any one of their many locations to try, "Cookie Nookie Pie," Between My Red Velvet Sheets Cheesecake," "Peanut Butter Perversion," "The Morning After," just to name a few. More on Better Than Sex - A Dessert Restaurant Our dream began in 2003. As newlyweds, I was eager to make my husbands every desire a reality, so when he exclaimed to me “I want dessert!”, I wanted to impress!  Four hours later after patiently waiting, a fully decorated two-layer Oreo Cookie Cake appeared. Len was a happy hubby.  He proclaimed it ‘amazingly delicious’ and said: “wow if you can do this, what else can you do?”   I am not one for letting go of a challenge and really wanted to “show him” what I could do! Then began the odyssey that leads us to today. My love of baking stemmed from fond memories in my Italian family’s kitchen alongside my mom. So, I continued and began teaching myself how to bake.  I collected all of my recipes, saved receipts, and took photos of everything I made. Something guided me to do this without reason for several years.  Our concept for BTS had not formed yet. I would bring my creations to work and test them out on friends and co-workers.  They would often exclaim “you should do this for a living.”  Len and I secretly agreed. When Len said to me ‘write a menu’ and “I’ll write the business plan,” challenge #2 was accepted.  We knew we wanted to create an after-dinner experience, an extension of an evening in a romantic and sophisticated sexy atmosphere.  And so, it begins…. In 2006 we threw a Valentine’s Day Dessert party at our house and invited a few unsuspecting friends. Some of the dessert items we have on the menu today were tested on them. Our idea to open a dessert-only restaurant was officially validated that night.  We put our twisted minds together and had an incredibly fun time creating what is now Better Than Sex - A Dessert Restaurant.  On May 20, 2008, we officially opened at our original location, 411 Petronia Street to a full house! We always believed in our idea and ourselves, however, the road after was a bit more challenging. The first reviews were less than positive and at one point we only had a few thousand dollars to our names. We Never Quit! Then in 2010 Better Than Sex was featured on the Travel Channel and the rest is history. By 2012 the little location on Petronia Street was standing room only.  We needed a bigger restaurant. It was decided to pick up and move to the current Key West location. Our last night at the Petronia location featured our team and guests picking up their tables and chairs and walking them down the block and setting them up in the new space. On December 26th, 2015 we opened our Orlando location.  Len and I met over 20 years ago waiting tables in Orlando and it seemed like a perfect fit for our second spot. Orlando opened its doors to a packed house and has been successful since. Coming full circle, on Valentines’ Day of 2016 we were blessed to have been featured on CBS Sunday Morning. As you can see, Valentine’s Day is significant to BTS.  “We valentine, all the time.” We are passionate about what we do and now want to share that opportunity with other like-minded people. We are currently offering our concept to franchise nationwide.   And to think, this was all born from an Oreo Cookie Layer Cake. Back in 2003, as husband and wife, we made a promise to ourselves….“Lists do work, agreements work, if you believe it, have a partner that can hold you accountable, you can and will make it happen.”  We always will! With Passion, Dani Johnson - Co-Founder Website: https://www.betterthansexdesserts.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/betterthansexdesserts/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/betterthansexkw Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/better-than-sex-a-dessert-restaurant-orlando-5 Trip Advisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34345-d1068339-Reviews-Better_Than_Sex_A_Dessert_Restaurant-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html Franchise Inquiries: https://www.betterthansexdesserts.com/franchise/ Music Playlist: https://players.customchannels.net/betterthansex/index.html
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with local brand creator and artist Cristina Velardi. We talk about where the vision of the brand came from, how she ended up at the Art Shack, how she got started in screen printing, and how patience has been her biggest strength. More on Cocky Key West Basic is for the (other) birds. Cocky Key West is for the weird and proud. CockyKW is a Key West based apparel company paying homage to our island's frisky feathered friends and proudly sharing the joys of humble living. For the artistic and eclectic keeping our island beautifully weird, the lifelong locals continuing to preserve the unique culture, all the confident bastards that chose to forfeit the norm, and our cocky little feathered mascots strutting through our streets. Humble living. Island pride. Anyone that has taken a trip to Key West knows that there is no shortage of strange on this tiny island.  A haunted doll, six-toed cats, and Fantasy Fest (the annual week-long celebration of individual fantasy and fetish) are just a few examples why Key West is endearingly referred to as "Key Weird."  There are so many characteristics of this place that make it so strangely unique...all of which are perpetuated, preserved and celebrated by the creative and colorful souls that inhabit our home. Website: http://www.cockykw.com Screen Printing Services: http://www.cockykw.com/screen-printing Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cockykeywest Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CockyKeyWest Located at The Art Shack: https://backyardsofkeywest.com/the-art-shack-key-west Address: 6404 Front St, Stock Island, FL Contact: strut@cockyKW.com
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with yogi, chef, and all-around awesome person, Sofia Artola. We talk about the transition going from student to teacher to business owner, moving locations (twice), and incorporating the cafe into the space, creating a full organic experience. More on Shakti Yoga Shakti Yoga is committed to offering you sound, wise instruction in a context that honors the ancient traditions of Hatha Yoga. Our classes are nurturing, safe and non-competitive, with an emphasis on lightness and laughter when appropriate. Shakti Yoga's current class schedule focuses on Flow. Flow is an evolving form of traditional hatha yoga that focuses on integrating intention, breath and movement, awareness and alignment, strength and flexibility, and “your practice with daily life.” Instructors weave together teachings that can inspire physical, energetic, mental, and pure bliss states of consciousness. Sofia Artola has been teaching yoga for 18 years. She is a graduate of the Sai Ayurvedic College and Wellness Center & has an Associate Degree in Vedic Studies. A native of Nicaragua, Sofia has been an island resident of Key West, Florida for over 30 years. In 2005 Sofia started Shakti Yoga & five years later she moved Shakti to the current location at 1114 White St. In 2015 she expanded the space & launched Mayanjali Cafe & Boutique. Mayanjali has recently grown to include nourishing meals, specialty dinners & cooking classes. Website: http://shaktikeywest.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shaktiyogakeywest Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shaktiyogakeywest Location: 1114 White St, Key West, FL Phone: (305) 587-4285 More on Mayanjali IT ALL STARTED WITH A DREAM… I am a traveler. On a yoga sabbatical in 2003 I learned the power of food. While trying to live the true yogic life, I found my way to an Ashram in India and lived with a family who taught me the ritual of making the morning meal. The preparation taught me how to make simple traditional meals. Food is seen as communal and rich in custom; the rite of practice. A time to slow down and be conscious of what we consume; recognizing the energy we create. A whole new universe opened up to me of how important food was. My practice had been getting on a mat in order to reawaken the body and energy. With this experience, I began to awaken to the energy of food. This was the dream… to share that awakening with the community in Key West and beyond. In the progression of this yogic life, I have found my Dharma. My life’s purpose. Transforming simple ingredients into foods that heal your body, mind and nourish the soul. I am extremely blessed to share this with others. Website: https://mayanjali.com Location: 1114 White St, Key West, FL Phone: (305) 587-4285
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with celebrity chef Graham Dailey of the famed Cafe Marquesa. We talk about his early beginnings at the Peninsula Grill as the Executive Chef, to professional kitchens in New York City, where he worked under well-known Chef Anthony Bourdain. Later on, Chef Graham moved to Paris and became the first American to apprentice at the Michelin star-rated Hotel Lutetia, one of France's most prestigious hotels; to now find his new home in Key West at Cafe Marquesa. More on Cafe Marquesa One of Zagat's highest-rated restaurants in Key West. No visit to Key West is complete without a trip to Café Marquesa, a local and tourist favorite Key West restaurant. For a memorable dining experience, Café Marquesa’s "Contemporary American Cuisine” does not disappoint. Specialties include grilled meats and fresh, local seafood, complemented by inventive appetizers and salads as well as fresh baked bread and desserts made daily. Diners at the 50-seat restaurant catch glimpses of kitchen theatre behind a hand-painted trompe l'oeil wall. Large mahogany-framed mirrors give diners a view of the entire restaurant. Specialties include locally caught fresh local seafood, complemented by inventive appetizers and house-made desserts. Based on seasonal availability, our chef selects the finest seafood, meats and produce to design the menu. Our team of talented chefs presents innovative interpretations of classic dishes nightly. Our award-winning Cafe Marquesa will delight your tastebuds with many delectable entrees that you won't be able to decide which one to choose. But save room for dessert! A cozy bar is available for drinks, light bites, dessert, and coffee or full meals. Friends and hotel guests meet at the bar prior to dinner and before or after the theatre. It is a great place to begin or end an evening! Website: http://marquesa.com/cafe-marquesa/ Cozy, high-end hotel eatery celebrated for its genteel ambiance & inventive New American cooking. Located in: Marquesa Hotel Address: 600 Fleming St, Key West, FL 33040 Reservations: opentable.com Phone: (800) 869-4631 Hours: Monday - Sunday: 5:30PM–10PM More on Chef Graham Dailey Drawn to culinary arts at an early age, Peninsula Grill Executive Chef Graham Dailey transitioned from teenage summers working on fishing and shrimping boats in the Gulf of Mexico to professional kitchens in New York City, where he worked under well-known Chef Anthony Bourdain. The high-energy, two-year opportunity inspired Dailey to become a professional chef. Dailey moved to Paris, enrolled in the famed Le Cordon Bleu, and became the first American to apprentice at the Michelin star-rated Hotel Lutetia, one of France's most prestigious hotels. Chef Dailey returned to the United States in 1997 and joined Peninsula Grill as a member of the restaurant's opening culinary team. After serving as Chef du Cuisine, he assumed the role of Peninsula Grill Executive Chef.  Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/grahamdailey/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/graham.dailey.7 Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrahamDailey Best Chefs of America: https://www.bestchefsamerica.com/graham-dailey
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with the family (almost the entire family) behind Tropical Vibes Cones & Bowls. We talked about family values, how the business got started, and how their love for the community is the driving force for the business. More on Tropical Vibes A one of a kind, eco-friendly company, family and 🇺🇸 veteran-owned Ice cream shop. Happily serving Brazilian Açaí Bowls, Hawaiian Shaved Ice & Thai Rolled Ice Cream. YouTube: youtu.be/PqE3_0QQMl8 Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tropicalvibes.keywest/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tropicalvibes.keywest Address: 411 Greene St, Key West, FL 33040 Hours: Monday - Sunday 11AM–10PM Phone: (305) 906-1100
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Michael Halpern to talk about life at the famed Southernmost House, his wife's beautiful foundation (Michelle's Foundation), and the wonderful things the B&B is doing for the community. We share some NYC stories, revel in how kindness and old school morals matter, and how Michael pulled off the cleanup of the "quiet end" of Duval Street. More on The Southernmost House Relax, Unwind, & Escape Surround yourself in upscale elegance at the magnificent Southernmost House. When you take a dip in the zero-entry heated pool that is perched directly on the oceanfront, it feels like the crystal-clear waters ebb and flow into the horizon. Find out why our famous bed and breakfast has been the Key West, Florida boutique hotel of choice for Presidents, royalty, and famous figures like Ernest Hemingway. Relax, unwind, and escape from everyday life on the quieter end of Duval Street in a gorgeous setting that stretches out around our charming, restored Victorian house. Website: https://www.southernmosthouse.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Southernmosthouse Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesouthernmosthouse Trip Advisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g34345-d600878-Reviews-The_Southernmost_House-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html The Southernmost House 1400 Duval Street Key West FL, 33040 Phone: 305-296-3141 Email: frontdesk@southernmosthousehotel.com  
In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Raymond Vazquez of the famed real estate brokerage firm, Truman & Co. We talk about oil spills, fly fishing, and of course Real Estate :-) More on Raymond: Raymond has been assisting buyers & sellers since 2005. His diverse background means he is one of the few real estate agents who truly understands their role as a Broker/Associate. His market knowledge & understanding of every client's needs leads to a well-managed, exciting real estate experience. Website: https://keywesthometeam.com Instagram: https://instagram.com/raymondjvazquez CONTACT RAYMOND: raymond@raymondjvazquez.com (305) 395-1777 1205 Truman Ave / Key West, FL 33040 THE COMPANY Truman & Co. specializes in Key West real estate and real estate in the Lower Keys. We have some of the most respected Realtors in the Key West area. Our agents together with their individual teams of real estate professionals have joined together to form Truman & Co. Real Estate Services. Truman & Co. has since its inception consistently been the top-producing real estate firm in Key West and the Lower Keys. 
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