The Legendary Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West, FL

Sloppy Joe's Bar a Key West TreasureFLORIDA - A Key West tradition began on December 5, 1933, the day Prohibition was repealed, with the official opening of Sloppy Joe's Bar. However, before it became the iconic establishment loved by Ernest Hemingway and visited by millions of tourists, it underwent two name changes and a location change.

The Legenary Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West, FL
Sloppy Joe's Bar a Key West Treasure

Sloppy Joe's Bar a Key West Treasure

Joe Russell, a Key West native and enterprising individual, operated an illegal speakeasy on Front Street near the harbor. Even Hemingway would visit Russell's establishment to buy illicit bottles of scotch. Russell was a Conch, a term given to Key West natives, and was known for his fishing skills. He eventually became Hemingway's boat pilot and fishing companion for over twelve years, during which they caught an impressive 54 marlins in 115 days.

The first incarnation of Sloppy Joe's Bar was located at 428 Greene Street and known as the Blind Pig. It had sawdust on the floor, gambling, and served cheap drinks. It later became the Silver Slipper when a dance floor was added, but regardless of the name, it remained a place of shabby comfort, good friends, and rowdy atmosphere.

Captivated by Key West's vibrant and fishing-filled environment, Ernest Hemingway made the island his home and became a regular at Sloppy Joe's Bar.

Thus, the Key West tradition of Sloppy Joe's Bar started with Joe Russell's entrepreneurial spirit and the allure of a vibrant, free-spirited community.

Throughout the years, Sloppy Joe's Bar has evolved into a treasured establishment, much like a coveted Cuban rum, developing a richness and flavor that sets it apart. Its unique atmosphere remains intact, with ceiling fans purposefully whispering and jalousie doors opening onto the bustling intersection of Duval and Greene Streets. Even Hemingway, the island's most famous patron, couldn't have imagined the current buzz surrounding Sloppy Joe's, still encompassing the offbeat ambiance that earned Key West the title "the St. Tropez of the poor."

The long curving bar proudly bears the marks left by generations of visitors and Hemingway enthusiasts, drawn to this place to capture some of the writer's magic. Under the capable leadership of various owners, including Josie Russell, Joe Russell, Jr., and Stan and Marcy Smith, Sloppy Joe's has remained a beloved watering hole. Since 1978, it has been owned by Sloppy Joe's Enterprises, comprised of the families of the late Sid Snelgrove and the late Jim Mayer.

Like in Joe Russell's time, Sloppy Joe's bartenders warmly welcome patrons at all hours, offering satisfyingly large drinks in a relaxed and unpretentious setting. The atmosphere still pulsates with the anticipation that something exciting is always around the corner at Sloppy Joe's Bar.