Tell us about yourself and what you do for a living?
I am a theatrical Production Manager; it’s kind of like being a construction general contractor, but for theatrical productions and live entertainment. I spent 20 years in NYC working on Broadway before moving to Key West. These days I still go back to NYC from time to time for projects, but I’ve also branched out into other types of live entertainment. Shortly after leaving NYC, I had my “mid-life crisis” and spent a summer in Colorado working on a historic steam railroad— my childhood fantasy. They learned of my background and took me out of the locomotive. Now I help them produce theatrical events on trains around the country. Random and fun!
How long have you been living in Key West?
About 8 years, though my husband and I have been part-timers for longer than that. We first visited Key West together on our first anniversary (22 years ago). It took us nearly 15 years to decide to move here full time, and although I travel extensively for work, this is home.
What influenced your decision to move here?
For us, it was primarily time for a change after almost 20 years in NYC. Living in Manhattan can be an exhausting lifestyle, and we decided it was time to “pump the brakes.” Choosing Key West specifically as a place to relocate was about getting away from the homogeny of the rest of the country. After our first visit, it was clear that Key West was different from the places we were accustomed to going. Our work in theater took us to many places, and during these travels we started to realize that so many US cities start looking like all the others: the same stores; the same chain restaurants; the same Starbucks. Key West, however, had so little in common with the rest of that “sameness” that it felt like a foreign destination, conveniently linked to the mainland by a scenic highway. In addition, the open-minded, laid-back, bohemian, One-Human-Family lifestyle was, and is, so appealing to our own spirits.
What are your favorite places to go for a cocktail and/or dinner?
This is almost an unfair question; the choices are endless (even though it’s only an 8 square mile island)! But if I have to choose a few: The Flaming Buoy (www.facebook.com/flamingbuoy) on Eaton St is my favorite restaurant on the island. Unique takes on local fish combined with friendly and fun service make it a must. Moon Dog (www.moondogcafe.com) is one of the island’s newer spots and has a very diverse and fresh menu for all three meals. La Grignote (lagrignotecafe.com) on upper Duval is an amazing French bakery/restaurant. I could spend every morning sitting on their front porch enjoying a café au lait and one of their delectable pastries, alongside their charming but mournful-looking French bulldog. More honorable mentions include Azur (www.azurkeywest.com) on Fleming Street; Blue Heaven (www.facebook.com/blueheavenkw) with its fabulous food and funky vibe on Petronia; its equally fabulous sister restaurant Salute On The Beach (www.saluteonthebeach.com); the burgers or carbonara at Blackfin Bistro (www.blackfinbistro.com) on Duval; 915 on Duval (www.915duval.com); the upscale Italian at La Trattoria (www.latrattoria.us) on Duval; the more casual Italian at Mangia-Mangia (www.mangia-mangia.com) on Southard; amazing pizza at Duetto (www.duettopizza.com) or Onlywood (www.onlywoodkw.com); and of course, late night fried chicken at Dion’s Quik Chik (www.dionsquikchik.com) on Truman and White! Finally, The Island House (www.islandhousekeywest.com), which we locals refer to as the country club, has an excellent poolside café with great (ahem) views. It’s more than just the buns! For drinks. The Saint Hotel (www.sainthotels.com/key-west) on Eaton Street has the coolest and hippest bar for happy hour. Glitch (www.facebook.com/GlitchCfeandGameRoom) on Simonton Street is a gamers paradise and has a great rotating beer list. A locals’ secret favorite (which I might regret giving up) is the Orchid Bar at Orchid Key Inn (www.orchidkeyinn.com/) for happy hour. Later in the evening, you’ll find me in my harness at Saloon 1 Key West (www.facebook.com/Saloon1KW) behind the 801 Bourbon Bar (www.801.bar). The famous Sunday Tea Dance at La Te Da (www.lateda.com) is the perfect way to end the weekend.
What cultural attractions are a must see for visitors?
Key West is one of the oldest towns in all of Florida and rich with history, including pirates, wrecking, cigar rolling, and even war. All of Old Town Key West is on the National Register of Historic Places, and as such is a cultural icon unto itself. I
always recommend renting a bike and cruising through the funky, beautiful, historic neighborhoods of Old Town. You can
do self-guided or guided tours that point out many important homes and buildings. As a theater professional, I am also
pleased to be able to recommend seeing a show at the Waterfront Playhouse (www.waterfrontplayhouse.org). The
level of their performance talent and production values is quite impressive. There are many other live events during the course of the year, as well, including showcases like the Songwriters’ Festival, Impromptu Classical Concerts, and a much-beloved Nutcracker during the holiday season. I would be remiss not to observe a wealth of drag performances around town. The Cabaret at La Te Da (www.lateda.com) is absolutely first-rate, with live performances (not lip-syncing). I also love the Tropic Cinema (www.tropiccinema.com), which shows first-run flicks alongside classics and indies in an intimate setting where you can get popcorn with real melted butter and a glass of wine. The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory (www.keywestbutterfly.com) makes for a fun family outing. Go after breakfast when the butterflies are awake.
A friend is coming to Key West for the first time… Please describe the perfect weekend.
It’s required in these parts to start with café con leche. Try the very authentic “No Name Coffee-Laundrymat” across from City Hall. Take a bike tour of old town. Lunch at one of the waterside restaurants in the historic seaport. Afternoon beach bumming at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park (www.fortzacharytaylor.com). Happy Hour cocktails at The Saint Hotel (www.sainthotels.com/key-west). Cross the street for dinner at The Flaming Buoy (www.facebook.com/flamingbuoy). Catch a show at La Te Da’s cabaret (www.lateda.com). Have a Nightcap at Saloon 1 Key West (www.facebook.com/Saloon1KW) or Bourbon Street Pub (www.bourbonstpub.com). The next morning, breakfast at La Grignote (lagrignotecafe.com), they enjoy the afternoon Sunday Funday pool party at The Island House (www.islandhousekeywest.com), or do a day sail on the Blu Q (www.bluqkeywest.com). End the weekend with the Tea Dance at La Te Da (www.lateda.com).
What are the best places to truly enjoy the natural beauty of the area?
Truman Waterfront Park (www.keywestinfo.com/key-westconcerts-truman-waterfront-amphitheater) and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park (www.fortzacharytaylor.com). A sunset harbor cruise on the LGBTQ Blu Q (www.bluqkeywest.com) or on
Schooner Hindu (www.sailschoonerhindu.com), or with Danger Charters (www.dangercharters.com). A trip to Fort Jefferson (www.nps.gov/drto/index.htm) and snorkeling around the fort.
What is your favorite time of year in Key West and why?
April. The weather is still perfect and hasn’t gotten too hot, and the crush of winter visitors has subsided a bit. Or, one of our big event weekends like Fantasy Fest (October. www.fantasyfest.com) or Bone Island Bare It All (July and December.
What’s one souvenir to bring back for friends or family?
A proper Key Lime pie from Kermit’s Key Lime Shop (if it fits inyour carry on. www.keylimeshop.com).
Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave Key West without…
A sunset harbor cruise with your partner or bestie and a nice glass of wine.