It is nearly impossible to nail down Christopher Rounds. Between revamping La Te Da, a beloved local culinary and entertainment institution, contributing his time and money to just about every charitable organization under the Key West sun, and running for king of Fantasy Fest, Christopher may very well be the busiest man in town. He also may be the most giving and gracious.
Christopher is fast approaching his 20th anniversary as a Key Wester. He and his life and business partner Patrick Hegarty have called the island home since the purchase of their first house here in 1997. The pair moved down full time about 15 years ago from Ocean City, Md., where they owned restaurants and a couple of properties, but Christopher says “it had always been our dream to move to Key West.”
Christopher and Patrick didn’t waste any time in becoming established in the Key West community. The duo acquired Antonia’s, a local Italian hot spot, shortly after arriving and Christopher quickly became a celebrity chef in town. In late 2013, Christopher and Patrick sold Antonia’s to tackle the monumental task of restoring La Te Da, originally built in 1892, to its glory days.
However, it was working at Antonia’s that first planted the seed of running for king of Fantasy Fest in Christopher’s mind. “When I first moved here and bought Antonia’s, Antonia and Philip had started an AIDS Help dinner for their friends to raise money and help pay their bills,” Christopher remembers. “They held the dinner every year, so after I bought the restaurant I did that as well. After buying La Te Da, the restoration and ongoing upgrades have been my priority so I haven’t done anything for AIDS Help for a couple of years but La Te Da is a huge AIDS Help hub where the organization holds a lot of their benefits every year. Many of the past owners and bartenders have actually run for king or queen of Fantasy Fest and supported AIDS Help otherwise. Running for king seemed logical, especially with La Te Da’s historical ties to Fantasy Fest.”
Patrick’s encouragement and the AIDS-related death this year of a good friend brought clarity to his 2016 commitment. “I know firsthand how much AIDS Help does. Raising as much money as I can for their education, outreach and prevention programs is my own way of honoring the passing of a great man. People who know me know I don’t do anything small — I’m hands-on and ever-present on the La Te Da property. I guarantee my king candidacy will be the same!”
Although it might seem like he already knows everyone in town, Christopher says that the best part about running for king is that “I’ve got three new friends in my competitors. I had never really known Kristen or Tommy or Jane and now I’ve got three great friends that I’m competing with and we’re really turning into being each other’s best friends.” But for an already busy man, the campaign can be incredibly difficult. “It’s a lot of work — I have Ali Ferguson as my campaign manager and Gary as my treasurer and for the three of us it’s a full-time job,” Christopher says. “We have meetings just about every other day and we’re constantly going out and getting silent auction items. Asking people for money is hard! But we’re so lucky because the community is really giving us everything we need to make it.”
From chatting with Christopher for even a minute, it is very clear that his main passion is charity and giving back to the Key West community that has given and continues to give so much to him. “Another reason why Patrick and I love this community is everyone does everything for anyone. You don’t even need to know them! I give back to the community because the community gives to me,” he explains.
Although AIDS Help has been one of his main projects for nearly two decades, Christopher is honing his focus these days. “My mind is focused on kids now — I believe in kids and animals. Children and animals can’t speak up so they need someone to speak up for them. The cause I want to get big into is no kids going hungry. There are so many kids right here in Key West who go to school hungry and it’s so unfortunate.”
Although we are coming up on the end of the Fantasy Fest campaign season, Christopher’s campaign is hardly slowing down. They have packed the last two weeks before the Coronation Ball chock-full of events. On Thursday,
Oct. 13, there will be a pig roast at the Lost Kitchen Supper Club on Stock Island. Tickets cost $50, which includes a trolley ride from La Te Da and a rum tasting at the venue. There will be a yard sale at Royal Furniture on Saturday, Oct. 15, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with furniture and other items provided by Susie’s Estates. And on Monday, Oct. 17, the campaign is hosting “Dinner and a Show” at La Te Da. There will be a four-course meal with a full wine pairing.
You can find out more about Christopher Rounds and his campaign events and contribute to his campaign at www.ChristopherforKing.com. And, in his own words, “Just send a check to ‘Christopher for King’ to La Te Da at 1125 Duval!” ¦