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 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) 2964000

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 seafoodwe’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!!

**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 – 8pm every 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/

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 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

Artwork provided by: https://www.loversart.net

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: [email protected]

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 (5 times), 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