When she first met him, Stephanie Pino told Porch co-owner Chris Schultz, “I’m going to work here someday.” Recently he came to her and told her, “You won.” She’s been bartending at this Key West favorite watering hole for two years now. The Porch is a trendy, upscale craft beer and wine bar that is never short of events, specials and fun.
“I love beer. I love everybody who works there. I love meeting people from all around the world every day, and the locals who come to see me. It never feels like I’m going to work,” she says.
Pino moved to Key West from Miami five years ago, where she was born and raised, the first place ever after moving out of her parents’ house. “I came to Key West because I wanted to do something different,” she says. “I didn’t fit in Miami. I needed to run.”
She worked as a nanny for a bit, and a teacher at the Montessori Charter School, before bartending at the short-lived World of Beer on Green Street (now the Sandbar), before migrating to the Porch at Caroline and Duval streets, where she has made her home.
She is a baker by trade, and often creates specialty desserts for parties and weddings. “My goal is to become a chocolatier,” she says, and plans on attending a chocolatier school soon. “I live and breathe chocolate.”
The Porch is located inside a large white Victorian mansion straight out of a Southern plantation, with a wide, tabled veranda and a sprawling, tropical courtyard that hosts such unique events as pinewood derbies, arm-wrestling championships, and music concerts on any given day of the week.
Inside the mansion, to the left, is The Porch with its varietal offerings of craft and seasonal beer and wine specials. To the right is Caroline’s The Other Side, a craft cocktail bar for those with a more discerning and curious palate than the usual bar fare, if you’re not afraid to spend a few extra dollars for something fresh and unique, including absinthe, cognacs and rare gins and whiskeys.
“2016 is the year of ‘yes,’” Stephanie says boldly. “I said I’d never do it, but last month Sassie (a bartender across the hall at The Other Side) and I jumped out of a plane.” She plans on quite a bit of traveling in the upcoming year. “I’m going to Denver in June to see the band Odesza at Red Rocks, Germany in September, and then to my favorite place in the world, New York City, in November. Just to escape.”
If you’d like to swing by The Porch and meet her, she works days on Mondays and Tuesdays from 11 to 7, and Friday and Saturday nights from 7 till close, which, according to Key West hours, could be midnight, or it could be 4 a.m.
“My favorite thing about working and living in Key West is the sense of community. It was culture shock at first, coming from a place so big. The amazing thing about Key West is how small it is.”
If you really want to hit it off with her, bring up “Star Wars.” ¦