BARTENDER OF THE WEEK

Jay Graham, Dante’s

 

 

Jay Graham is a Key West islander made if not born, like many who have migrated here from the mainland. You’ll find him on any given day out by the pool mixing drinks and tending to his regular following at Dante’s, a bar and grill perched on the water, where he can take a moment to enjoy his favorite time of day.

“No two sunsets are the same and it never gets old,” he said.

Now 41, Mr. Graham moved here eight years ago from Philadelphia and found his own slice of paradise on the island that he now calls home.

Growing up in a northeastern suburb of Philly, he became a tax accountant. He first visited Key West on a whim with his girlfriend at the time, but the place stuck in his mind.

“I was sitting in my office, January 2008,” he recalled. “It was grey and dreary.” That’s the northeast four months out of the year. And I just decided this is a better place.”

He moved down in April 2008 just after tax season, knowing only one person, a friend who agreed to be his roommate, and he started bartending his second day in town. Now it’s become a profession, although he also has a few hundred tax clients he takes care of every year in Key West.

“I figure I can do taxes anywhere in the United States and I can bartend anywhere in the United States,” he said. “Why not do it in the most beautiful place in the United States?” n


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