Key West Historic Places: Sloppy Joe's

If you are looking for things to do in Key West, then you absolutely must stop at Sloppy Joe's Bar. Located at the corner of Greene and Duval streets since 1937, guests have been kicking back and unwinding at this historic landmark since the Depression era. Legend has it that the name "Sloppy Joe's" was chosen with the encouragement of their most famous returning customer, Ernest Hemingway.

Who knows, maybe the inspiration for some of his greatest works came while enjoying an original Sloppy Joe sandwich in Key West! Now, we are not saying that eating here will make you a famous author, but if you happen to be here during the annual Ernest Hemingway Look-Alike contest, you could pretend to be like 'Papa'!

Sloppy Joe's official beginning was right down the street from the current location on December 5th, 1933; the day prohibition was repealed. The place was originally called the "Blind Pig", a come-as-you-are saloon owned and operated by Florida free thinker Joe Russell. It was a place where rowdy gamblers, good friends, and weary travelers could come and enjoy fifteen-cent shots of whiskey and ten-cent shots of gin.

Put off by a potential rent increase, Joe Russell decided to move the bar down the street on May 5th, 1937. In true Key West fashion, Sloppy Joe's never actually closed during the move. The guests who were there at the time literally picked up their drinks, grabbed whatever furniture they could carry and walked down the block to the new location! Service resumed the same day with barely a hitch. The new address at 201 Duval Street boasted the longest bar in town, a back room of gaming tables, and a proudly displayed 119-pound sailfish on one wall, caught by none other than Hemingway.

Hemingway left Florida in 1939 and Joe Russell passed away of a heart attack in 1941, but the essence of Sloppy Joe's remained unchanged, and throughout the years the place has gained a richness and historical spirit unlike any other establishment in Key West. The long winding bar bears the marks and scars of countless visitors and generations of Hemingway aficionados, hoping to savor a bit of the legend.

Today, the bar is open 9:00 am - 4:00 am, 365 days a year, and features hospitable bartenders, live music that starts at noon and a satisfying menu of American Caribbean cuisine. Patrons are encouraged to spend time in both the main bar and Joe's Tap Room, an offshoot that features a variety of crafted beers on tap and satellite to watch all the games on the big screen TV.

From the historical spirit to the contemporary flavor, when you are looking for things to do in Key West, make sure that Sloppy Joe's Bar is on that list!

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