KEY WEST IS OFTEN DESCRIBED as the place “where the weird go pro,” but times in the Southernmost City are even weirder than usual. Key West is on virtual recreational lockdown. Restaurants are limited to takeout and delivery, once-bustling bars are practically lifeless, and shops are on semi-permanent siesta for the foreseeable future.
So what are we supposed to do with all of this unanticipated free time that nobody asked for? How do we feed ourselves when we’re being asked to avoid leaving the house? Where do we turn when we run out of bingeable TV shows and movies and we’ve burned through the stack of books that has been collecting dust on the nightstand? Stay calm and read on for the Florida Weekly Key West Edition’s guide to social distancing in the age of Coronavirus.
Get Your Grubhub On
Following Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order, the City of Key West has directed all bars and nightclubs to cease operation and limit their services to take out and delivery only. It took a bit of shuffling on the part of local restaurant owners, but it seems like almost everyone has risen to the challenge — much to the delight of those of us who would rather not leave the house during Spring Break, even without a pandemic deterrent.
Starting your day with a robust café con leche is practically a requirement of being a resident of the Florida Keys, and with a dozen coffee shops on the island, there’s no need to forgo your morning cuppa. Cuban Coffee Queen (www.cubancoffeequeen.com; 305-294-7787) is still offering its standard delivery and pickup options and, for recluses like this writer, everything on their menu (including smoothies and sammies) can be ordered online. If you’re feeling a little under the weather, go for the Cold Buster smoothie, with bananas, orange juice, Echinacea, Emergen-C Immune Defense and bee pollen. It’s no quarantini, but there’s no excuse not to shore up your immune system right about now.
Similarly, Keys Coffee Company (www.keyscoffee.co; 505 Southard St.; 305-906-1205) offers online ordering and delivery of their extensive menu of coffees, smoothies and breakfast and lunch sandwiches. Or just say screw it and grab a dozen donuts from Glazed (www.glazeddonuts.com; 420 Eaton St.; 305-294-9142) and go ahead and bury your feelings in an apple fritter.
For the rest of your waking, stress-eating hours, you have more options than you have meals to plan. As of press time, the following restaurants are offering some combination of takeout and/or delivery: Ambrosia (www.ambrosiasushi.com; 1401 Simonton St.; 305-293-0304), Antonia’s (www.antoniaskeywest.com; 615 Duval St.; 305-294-6565), Azur (www.azurkeywest.com; 425 Grinnell St.; 305-292-2987), Bad Boy Burrito (www.orderbadboyburrito.com; 316 Petronia St.; 305-292-2697), Benihana (www.benihana.com; 3591 S. Roosevelt Blvd.; 305-294-6400), Better Than Sex (www.betterthansexdesserts.com; 926 Simonton St.; 305-296-8102), Blackfin Bistro (www.blackfinbistro.com; 918 Duval St.; 305-509-7408), Blue Heaven (www.blueheavenkw.com; 729 Thomas St.; 305-296-8666), The Breakfast Club, Too (www.thebctoo.com; 610 Greene St.; 305-440-2898), Breezy Buddha Fusion Kitchen (www.breezybuddhafusionkitchen.com; 1124 Key Plaza; 305-440-2848), Conch Republic Seafood Company (www.conchrepublicseafood.com; 631 Greene St.; 305-294-4403), Date & Thyme (www.dateandthyme.com; 829 Fleming St.; 305-296- 7766), Denny’s (www.dennys.com; 2710 N. Roosevelt Blvd.; 305-741-7990), The Dirty Pig (www.thedirtypigkw.com; 320 Grinnell St.; 305-916-5106), Duetto Pizza & Gelato (www.duettopizza.com; 540 Green St.; 305-848-4981), Firefly (www.fireflykeywest.com; 223 Petronia St.; 305-849-0104), Fisherman’s Café (www.fishermanscafekeywest.com; 205 Elizabeth St., Unit D; 305-900-6878),The Flaming Buoy Filet Co. (www.theflamingbuoy.com; 424 Eaton St.; 305-295-7970), Garbo’s Grill (www.garbosgrillkw.com; 409 Caroline St.; 305-304-3004), Goldman’s (www.goldmansdeli.com; 2796 N. Roosevelt Blvd.; 305-294-3354), Hot Tin Roof and Sunset Pier (0 Duval St.; 305-295-7057), Key Plaza Creperie (1105 Key Plaza; 305-517-6032), La Crêperie (www.lacreperiekeywest.com; 300 Petronia St. #1; 305-571-6799), La Grignote (www.lagrignotecafe.com; 1211 Duval St.; 305-916-5445), La Te Da (www.lateda.com; 1125 Duval St.; 305-296-6706), La Trattoria (www.latrattoria.us; 524 Duval St.; 305-296-1075), La Trattoria Oceanside (www.latrattoria.us; 3593 S. Roosevelt Blvd.; 305-295-6789), The Local Butcher & Market (1202 White St.; 305-741-7202), Lola’s Bistro (728 Simonton St.; 305-204-4457), Louie’s Backyard (www.louiesbackyard.com; 700 Waddell Ave.; 305-294-1061), Mangia Mangia (www.mangia-mangia.com; 900 Southard St.; 305-294-2469), Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen & Bar (www.perrykeywest.com; 7001 Shrimp Road; 305-294-3939), Mayanjali Café (www.mayanjali.com; 1114 White St.; 305-363-9197), Misohappy (www.misohappyrestaurant.com; 504 Southard St.; 305-509-7868), Moondog Cafe & Bakery (www.moondogcafe.com; 823 Whitehead St.; 305-741-7699), Mr. Z’s (www.mrzskeywest.com; 501 Southard St.; 305-296-4445), Off the Hook Bar & Grill (www.offthehookkeywest.com; 920 Caroline
St.; 305-741-7980), Old Town Bakery (www.oldtownbakerykeywest.com; 930 Eaton St.; 305-396-7450), Paradise Pizza and Ice Cream (503 Greene St.; 305-292-4100), Paradise Restaurant (www.restaurantparadisekw.com; 124 Duval St.; 305-293-9599), Prime Steakhouse (www.primekeywest.com; 951 Caroline St.; 305-296-4000), Salsa Loca (www.salsalocakeywest.com; 618 Duval St.; 305-292-1865), The Salty Angler (www.thesaltyangler.com; 1114 Duval St.; 305-741-7071), Salute! On The Beach (www.saluteonthebeach.com; 1000 Atlantic Blvd., 305-292-1117), Seven Fish (www.7fish.com; 921 Truman Ave.; 305-296-2777), Sinz Burritos (www.sinzburritos.com; 500 Truman Ave. Unit 1; 305-916-5920), Smoked BBQ (www.smokedbbqkw.com; 1801 N. Roosevelt Blvd.; 305-741-7409), Thirsty Mermaid (www.thirstymermaidkeywest.com; 521 Fleming St.; 305-204-4828) and Viva Argentinian Steakhouse (www.vivasaloon.com; 903 Duval St.; 305-414-8947).
Many of the above restaurants have partnered with Grubhub, Door Dash and Uber Eats, so you don’t even need to talk to a real human to get a good meal. With all of these restaurants offering their usual menus, we may all be looking at putting on the COVID 19, but who can complain with a mouth full of Blackfin’s spaghetti carbonara?
Not one to let a little quarantine get him down, Key West native Martin Liz and his team at Key West Personal Chef and Lost Island Supper Club (www.lostkitchenkeywest.com; 6810 Front St., Stock Island; 305-896-2087) are offering a series of home cooked meals from Tuesday through Saturday. Diners starving for Conch cuisine can choose from ropa vieja, Key West pink shrimp chilau, Cuban-style roast pork and Bahamian-style “stew conch.” Liz’s dinners run a mere $39, which is well worth the comfort they’ll provide.
It wouldn’t be Key West if we didn’t also mention that you can still drink well when you’re face deep in a Styrofoam takeout container. Uva (www.uvakeywest.com; 519 Fleming St.; 305-735-4871), the well-curated wine shop helmed by local wild child Mark Gambuzza, will remain open for carryout from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week. All residents of the Florida Keys can expect free delivery and 15% off all purchases, which is bumped up to 20% if you order takeout from The Flaming Buoy Filet Co., Thirsty Mermaid or Lola’s Bistro. ViV Wine Bistro (www.vivwinebistro.com; 300 Petronia St.; 305-517-6799), Vinos on Duval (www.vinosonduval.com; 810 Duval St.; 305- 294-7568) and Grand Vin Wine Bar (1107 Duval St.; 305-296-1020) are also providing delivery and wine pickup all day.
For all of the above establishments, and many more we didn’t have information for at press time, check individual restaurants’ websites and Facebook pages for up-to-date to-go menus and delivery and take-out options. Many restaurants are posting to go menus in a Facebook group called To Go Menus Key West and a constantly updated list of delivery options is on the Key West Chamber of Commerce website (www.keywestchamber.org). And please remember to tip your drivers. Kindness is contagious.
Unfortunately, we don’t think restaurants will be pillaging their restrooms to deliver toilet paper, but it doesn’t hurt to ask…
Put an ocean between you and your worries
Last week, our Commander-in-Chief limited all social gatherings to no more than ten people. Luckily for the lovers of the great outdoors, most charter boats are limited to parties of six and local excursion outfits are taking full advantage of the social distancing directive with solo adventure options.
Sue Cooper, owner of Lazy Dog Adventures (www.lazydog.com; 5114 Overseas Highway; 305-295-9898), recommends you get out and get some exercise in the fresh air. Lazy Dog offers kayak and paddleboard rentals, paddle yoga and fitness classes and backcountry boat adventures, which they are limiting to six passengers per boat and offering at $50 per person for locals. Sunset Watersports (www.sunsetwatersportskeywest.com; 855-378-6386) is also still running its Guided Back-Country Eco Tour, where you can captain your own pistol boat through the mangroves — how’s that for distance?
If you want to get way the heck offshore to escape the madness, Key West Boat Trips (www.keywestboattrips. com, 305-304-4800) is running boat tours to the backcountry for six passengers or less. And to take advantage of the post-sunset lull, their sister company, Night Kayak Key West (www.keywestpaddle.com, 305-896-0342), is still running moonlight paddleboard and clear-bottom kayak tours (limited to ten people, of course). Just make sure you keep a paddle’s distance from your fellow kayakers.
It’s been a little over a week since the country started its descent into full-on lockdown mode, and the old Netflix queue is starting to look more and more depleted as the days drag on. What’s a kid in quarantine to do? We’ve opted to join the Tropic Cinema Online Film Club (www.tropiccinema.com). On the cinema’s website, Tropic Cinema Board Member and Academy Award winner Terry George has compiled his recommendations for couch-bound viewing in a number of categories, including Armchair Travel, so you can take a trip from the comfort of your loveseat. George’s recommendations are coupled with the platforms on which you can view them, so re-up that Amazon Prime membership or take advantage of that Netflix free trial while you have the time to really enjoy it.
While the Key West Art and Historical Society has temporarily closed all of its museums to safeguard against COVID-19 until it is deemed safe by health officials to reopen, there are still multiple KWAHS offerings that the community can access remotely. If sitting on your couch is making you stir crazy, take a detour to the Key West Historic Markers Tours website, which provides a virtual tour of Key West, a wealth of historic background and community information, digital collections of local postcards and cigar box art and links to Google maps, allowing visitors to delve into our unique island architecture, including Civil War forts, famous authors homes, military history, the wrecking/salvage industry and much more — all without having to leave home. Visit www.kwahs.org and click on the Historic Marker Tour tab to begin exploring.
If you have a Monroe County Library card, take this opportunity to go on a literary adventure without having to leave your house. The library system has an extensive collection of eBooks and eAudiobooks that you can read or listen to on your browser or mobile device or borrow on your Kindle. Cardholders also have access to Kanopy, which allows you to stream over 30,000 films and TV series for all ages.
Don’t have a library card but still want to burn through your to-read list while you have some time to kill? Although the store on Eaton Street is closed, Books & Books at the Studios is keeping its online store open and will even deliver books and art supplies to your door to combat your cabin fever — no interpersonal interaction necessary. Visit www.booksandbookskw.com to place your order, or call the shop at 305-320-0208.
Nama-stay in your living room
Right now, many of us could use a little mindfulness and a whole lot of Zen. Anticipating that need, the Key West Yoga Sanctuary at Sevana School of Yoga (www.keywestyogasanctuary.com; 612 Fleming St.; 305-587-9199) has transitioned to an exclusively online class schedule via the platform Wellness Living. To request access to livestreamed classes from Hip Opening to Yoga with Kiddos, e-mail the Yoga Sanctuary at email@example.com. And Cricket Desmarais, who under more normal scheduling circumstances teaches a slow flow yoga class at The Studios of Key West, is transitioning to a Facebook Live format until The Studios reopens.
Shakti Yoga (www.shaktikeywest.com; 1114 White St.; 305-363-9197) has also made the decision to transition to online classes, utilizing the fitness platform Zoom. If you’d like to add an edge to your downward dog, Next Hot Yoga (www.nexthotyoga.com; 529 Whitehead St.), which offers a fusion of yoga, pilates and weightlifting, is also streaming classes online. Preregister on the website and sweat out your quarantine induced frustration. Updated class schedules for all of the yoga studios are posted daily on each of the websites listed above.
Boost your immune system
If you must leave the house, we highly recommend you do so sparingly and for damn good reason, which includes engaging in activities to ensure you’re physically equipped to fight whatever DIVOC is in the air. IVs in the Keys (www.ivsinthekeys.com; 531 Whitehead St.; 305-395-8245) has an extra stock of vitamin C and zinc on hand to boost the immune system and, as always, is offering 10% off for locals to make sure we stay well.
Chiropractic care has also been shown to significantly boost the immune system. If all those hours spent supine on the couch have you needing an adjustment, Dr. Liz Morin of Excel Chiropractic (www.excelchirokw.com; 2510 N. Roosevelt Blvd. Suite 102 Rear; 305-209-5665) and Dr. Jim Gerbracht of Keys Chiropractic Health Center (www.mykeywestchiropractor.com; 615-A United St.; 305-294-6111) will keep their doors open for appointments. Both offices are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of their patients and Dr. Morin is offering free sessions for service industry employees.
Engage in local retail therapy
Though we’re all about minimizing your engagement with the outside world in these uncertain times, we appreciate that that’s probably easier said than done. Until further notice, The Peace Store (www.thepeacestore.net; 403 Caroline St.) is doubling its local discount to 20% and Wanderlust (www.wanderlustkw.com; 310 Petronia St.) will be open online for your retail needs.
Is your inner magpie pining for shiny things? The brick and mortar may be closed, but Barb Grob of Key West Local Luxe (www.keywestlocalluxe.com) is determined to make quarantine cute again by instituting a “buy one, get one 50% off” policy for all online sales.
And let’s not forget that our furry friends are probably feeling a little stressed out, too. Dog 30 (1025 White St.; 305-296-4848) is limiting its hours, but owner Sam Usina is available regular hours via phone or text and will organize orders for curbside takeaway and even deliver for the elderly and those in otherwise high-risk situations.
It goes without saying that these are stressful times. Key West relies on a tourism-based economy and the majority of our residents are slaves to the service industry. Unlike a hurricane, whose passage we can predict and whose impacts we’ve weathered time and time again, COVID-19 is a relative mystery. Bars, restaurants, boutiques and cultural establishments have shuttered their doors indefinitely, without the prep time to brace for the inevitable economic fallout that typically ensues during and after a national emergency.
Things are scary. And in the face of tragedy and uncertainty, we must remember that giving back and helping the helpless are among the most powerful things we can do as a community.
Star of the Sea (SOS) Foundation (www.sosmission.org), which operates a food pantry and community kitchen, is still providing food to the working poor, children and seniors. To alleviate the stress of families who depend on school lunch for their children, the foundation plans to serve free lunch every day to children and teens 18 and under from the Frederick Douglass Gym (111 Olivia St.) in Bahama Village. Consider donating food, supplies or money to the SOS community kitchen. Donations can be dropped off at the SOS Food Pantry (5640 Maloney Ave., Stock Island) or mailed to SOS Callahan Kitchen (1020 United St.).
The Community Foundation of the Florida Keys (www.cffk.org) has also announced that its Florida Keys Emergency Relief Fund will accept and strategically disburse funding to address COVID-19 emergency response and relief efforts in Monroe County. All funds will be distributed through grants to charitable organizations for needs related to the impact of COVID-19 throughout the county. Members of the community who wish to support aid to those affected may donate to the Fund at www.cffk.org/help.
Perhaps no one is going to be harder hit by the COVID-19 crisis than our local bartenders. No bar shifts means no tips, no matter how much time you usually spend behind the tiles. Sister Season Fund (www.sisterseason.com), the local superhero organization dedicated to our massive hospitality-based workforce, is a great option for those who want to know that their donated dollars will go as far as possible to help fellow locals. Additionally, The United States Bartenders’ Guild (www.usbgfoundation.org) is soliciting donations for its Bartender Emergency Assistance Relief, which will help serve those who serve us by doling out grants to those in the industry who are most in need.
It takes a village to stay safe and healthy. Through countless hurricanes, family emergencies and economic recessions, we’ve seen how resilient our village at the end of the road can be. Be smart, be mindful, and remember that whatever is going on out there is much bigger than any individual. Be kind to each other, but remember to be kind to yourself as well. Key West’s future depends on each and every one of us rising to the moment. Why not lift one another up on the way? ¦
*Editor’s Note: Because of our print publication deadlines, some information in the Florida Weekly Key West Edition may not be up-to-date when it hits the newsstands. For the most current versions of our articles, visit our website at www.keywest. floridaweekly.com.