In this episode, Mark Baratto sings down with musician Joal Rush to talk about his musical origin story (more than 20 years ago), the time he puts into his music, and where he is headed.

We recorded this podcast for the Songwriters Podcast many months before the COVID-19 lockdown.

More on Joal Rush

Born & raised in Camden, South Carolina, Joal Rush began his musical quest at an early age(singing, drumming, playing guitar & bass, as well as dabbling on piano), and has been performing live for the past two decades, sharing the stage with nationally renowned artists Zac Brown Band, Jason Isbell, Darius Rucker, Lee Brice, Shovels & Rope, Sister Hazel, Drivin’ n Cryin’, Edwin McCain, Jay Clifford(Jump, Little Children), Jakob Dylan, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, Styx, and Foreigner, while releasing a handful of albums along the way(Delightful Things, Imagination, Wares).

Rush relocated to Nashville, TN in the summer of 2014, to focus on writing/recording the songs for his upcoming album, Kaleidoscope Emotions. Joal Rush uniquely blends influences of Folk/Pop/Rock & Soul, to create a style all his own.

Website: http://www.joalrush.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joalrush

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joalrush 

YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/user/JoalRushMusic

In this episode of the podcast, Mark Baratto sits down with the Kiteboarder, Chef, and owner/creator of the Key West First Legal Rum Distillery, Paul Menta.

We talk about how Paul took a number of chances when creating his rum distillery and how his “failures” help him find success.

In a post-COVID-19 world, Paul saw how hand sanitizer was hard to come by, so made his own product mixing 140 proof alcohol with aloe and transmission gel, used in ultrasounds.

Menta gave away the 3-oz bottles around town to service workers, retailers, mail carriers, and anyone else hard at work in Key West during high season for tourists.

Key West First Legal Rum Distillery

WHAT IS CHEF DISTILLED?

For centuries, Distillers have been making the sweet libation…Rum.  Some legal, some not so legal.

One common task shared by rum Distillers and Chefs alike is cooking sugar cane in big kettles or “stills.” We are Chefs first and Distillers second, so our process is called Chef Distilled!

This combination of skill brings out the best flavors in our original white rums, made with Florida sugar cane and with infusions of Coconut, Vanilla Creme Brulee, and Real Key Lime. Our 6 times distilled specialty rums are sure to twist your taste buds on an adventure!

We are still “Chefs,” so we jar rum cakes, fresh fruits, and savory vegetables. Why is our craft different, you ask?  Because homemade has no preservatives!

Taste History at the First-Ever Legal Rum Distillery in Key West Fla.  Chef Distilled means a whole new way to craft food and drink!

Website: https://www.keywestlegalrum.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/keywestlegalrum

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/keywestrumdistillery

Location & Contact Infor
105 Simonton Street
Key West FLA 33040
[email protected]
T  /  305-294-1441      

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with owners and mother-daughter powerhouse, Jasmine and Morgan.

We talk about how they got into the business, how they work together in a family business, and how their passion for the environment, spills into everything magical they do!

*A little note that this episode was recorded before COVID hit, but they are still open and living the dream!!

More on AMRI

We are an ethical and sustainable day spa, salon, and boutique located in the heart of Key West, FL. 

We aim to always put people and the planet above all else. We accomplish this by thinking of the people involved in every area of our supply chain. From the people who make the products we sell, to our team members at our storefront in Key West, to you,  our guest! Our main priority is making sure Amri is impacting all of these people’s lives and the planet in a  positive way. From making sure the factories our products are made in are up to code and the workers are getting a fair wage- to making sure the materials our products we sell and use in our Day Spa + Salon are good for the planet and every living thing in it.

We couldn’t express our gratefulness to be apart of this One Human Family and for all of the support we’ve gotten from the community during this time. Our heartbeat has always been people and the planet first, and it continues to be😊❤️.

Please visit our website for more info on our covid precautions and protocols 😊.

Website: https://www.amrikeywest.com

Instagram: http://instagram.com/amrikeywest

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/amrikeywest

Location
1204 Simonton Street
Key West, FL 33040

Hours
Monday – Saturday 10am – 6pm

Phone
305.292.4000

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with owners Matt & Katie Wills of The Spice & Tea Exchange of Key West.

This episode was recorded in December of 2019 and I wanted to wait for them to be back open after the COVID shut down.

We talk about how they took a leap of faith to start a brand new business in Key West, how they work the family dynamic, and how a “little rub goes a long way 😎.”

More on The Spice & Tea Exchange

At The Spice & Tea Exchange, we offer a variety of fine spices, handcrafted seasonings, loose-leaf teas, salts, sugars, gifts, and more! Explore gifts and accessories in the best local gift shop in town. Whether you’re new to the culinary scene, own your own food service business, or are simply looking to add a bit of spice to your life, our friendly and knowledgeable staff can help you find the perfect menu additions! We’re known for our over 85 handcrafted seasonings, which we hand-mix in store daily. Stop on by to watch our Spice Masters at work!

Website: https://www.spiceandtea.com/key-west

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spiceandtea_keywest/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TSTEKeyWest/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/spiceandtea

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/spiceandtea/

511 Greene St, #102
Key West, Florida 33040

305-741-7352
[email protected]

Our doors are open and we’re offering curbside pickup and Free Shipping over $50 on local phone orders!

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 – 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, Marcia Weaver.

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) 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!!

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/

***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)

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: [email protected]

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.