“I had been working at Danger Charters for about a week, when a friend of mine, Wade, said ‘if you like draft beer, check out the Porch.’ I went in, saw a big TV and thought it was sports. When I saw that it was the Muppet Show, I knew this was going to be my favorite bar,” bartender Shaun Griffin says. “I got my job here in the worst way possible. By being the drunkest, most obnoxious guest ever. I believe they only gave me a job bartending to watch me fail.”
The Porch was Shaun’s first bartending gig and although he has since moved on, to his credit he still holds one of the longest running tenures at the iconic craft beer and wine bar. Today, he bartends at the newly established fast food joint Sinz Burritos most Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 5 to 10 p.m. Here he serves up a distinct collection of craft beers that pair well with the likes of tacos and tostados from the comfort of a small circular countertop facing the gateway intersection to Duval at Truman Avenue.
Shaun was born in Baltimore, Md., where he lived until he was 21 when he discovered that he had a love for sailing. “I realized that I didn’t have to only sail where I grew up. I could go anywhere there was water.”
His first jaunt away from home was to Maine during the winter. “I lived on a little island (Sugar Island) in the middle of a lake (Moosehead Lake).” Needless to say, there wasn’t much sailing going on. “Then I was offered two boat jobs. One in Hartford, Conn., and one in Key West. I did seriously consider Hartford.” Instead, in 2006, he headed to Key West.
“My wife was the very first girl (my own age) I met in Key West. She was coming in on a sailboat. Once they got tied off, it was a common custom for the crew to take their shirts off and go topless.
It was getting dark, but I could see her in her white bikini, glowing in the setting sun. The captain (who also had a crush on her) said, ‘Margot, why don’t you go show Shaun where the dumpster is?’ And the rest was history. To this day, she says she has never owned a white bikini.” Must’ve been tan lines then.
Shaun and Margot had only been dating three weeks when they both took off in different directions. She to go to boatbuilding school for a couple of years, and he off to get his captain’s license. “I wrote her letters all the time, the old-fashioned way, snail mail,” he said. Then, on different boats, they both sailed and met in Hawaii where they lived together for six months.
They eventually came back to Newport, R.I., for a stint, then, to celebrate Shaun getting his captain’s license, the two of them headed to Thailand for three months. “I applied for my job at Danger Charters here in Key West while we were in Thailand. I knew I wanted it because I love sailing, and I love teaching about the environment.”
So, besides bartending, he still holds down his day job as an eco-tour guide for Danger Charters three days a week. “It’s good to teach people about birds and fish, and to get tips for taking off my shirt.” You can find out more at www.DangerCharters.com, or check it out on Trip Adviser.
When not working, you may see Shaun out with his three-legged dog Fenway, or hanging around the Blue Room when the Comedy Key West takes the stage. “If you miss me at the bar, you can come see me at the comedy club.”
He also presents himself as somewhat of a cook. “The only reason my wife keeps me is that I keep her fed.”
He says of himself, “I am neither friendly or nice, yet everyone not only tolerates me, but even acts like they like me.”
Shaun points out what he says are the two proudest moments in his life. “The first was the first date with my wife behind the dumpster at the Westin,” he says. “And also, in the seventh-grade I was voted the ‘Most Creative Student in Maryland,’ by the Odyssey of the Mind Association,” which is a real thing.” (I looked it up. Sometimes when you’re exchanging information with someone who also performs comedy, you can’t always be sure if you’re getting your leg pulled.)
“I like the people here in Key West, the community. People treat each other better here than anywhere else I’ve ever been,” he said, in regards to what he likes most about living and working in Key West. “And if I couldn’t get out on the water two or three times a week, I’d murder everyone.” ¦