Nancy Klingener 2015-02-28 04:22:21
Stock Island Renaissance Meet the new salts: A new generation discovers Key West’s gritty neighbor to the east Cross Cow Key Channel onto Stock Island and enter new territory. By ZIP code, it’s still Key West. But Stock Island has its own character. Trailer parks, a working fishing fleet and grimy boatyards survive here—industrial enterprises that have been all but chased off Key West proper in favor of yoga studios and guesthouses. A few enterprising locals have opened businesses in recent years that take advantage of Stock Island’s industry and utility, while applying those traits to new uses. Here are just a few of them. COAST, 6404 Front St. COAST is a center of the new energy on Stock Island. Billy Kearins founded the workshop/store/event venue and brought in a crew of boatbuilders, artists and designers. On the site they make everything from web pages to spearguns. “I like to be there on the edge of something,” Kearins says of his decision to set up shop on land once used to store lobster traps. A skateboard and surfboard builder, he lived in Key West from 2002 to 2007 before leaving for Copenhagen. There he met graphic designer Dorthe Thure. Married and with two kids, they returned to Key West and opened COAST in 2013. Thure’s Scandinavian aesthetic comes through on every aspect of COAST’s public face, from their popular T-shirts (also on sale at Isle Style, 1204 Simonton St. and Tucker’s Provisions, 611 Duval St.) to the layout of the showroom where they sell boards, bikes and hats. In this place, anything can be a studio, including a shipping container and a Scamp trailer. “There are still guys here that are working with their hands—guys and girls,” Kearins says. Retail is a minor part of the equation. “We’re really out here for our own sake, doing our own thing.” During season, COAST hosts concerts, shows films and generally brings people together in the overarching spirit of creating . . . On the edge. Other Stock Island spots worth exploring Safe Harbor Marina, 6810 Front St. Just down the road from COAST is Safe Harbor—a marina with the kind of funky character that could soon qualify for its own historic designation. Artist studios and workshops line the seawall, liveaboards and charter boats occupy the slips. The Hogfish Bar & Grill, 6810 Front St. If you’ve heard about Key West in the good old days of the ‘70s and wondered what it looked like, this is the closest current equivalent. Plus it always has fresh local seafood and a no-frills (i.e. no AC) atmosphere. Roostica, 5620 MacDonald Ave. Bobby Mongelli knows Key West restaurants. Longtime owner of P.T.’s Late Night on Caroline, he opened the Hogfish on Stock Island a decade ago. His latest enterprise, Roostica, goes to his roots with authentic Neopolitan pizza, cooked in a wood-burning oven as decreed by the Italian government. In addition to the pizzas, which incorporate local catch like shrimp and lobster, Roostica has calzones, nightly specials and the Sunday gravy. If you’re Italian, you know what that means—spaghetti with meatballs and sausage. We Cycle, 5160 U.S. 1 If you need to rent a bike, you don’t have to make the trip out to Stock Island—but it’s worth stopping by We Cycle just to admire the bike-frame sculpture built by local kids. We Cycle delivers bikes and they also sell them, including stylish rides by makers like Bianchi. Stock Island Marina Village, 7009 Shrimp Road A few years ago this was a commercial and charter fishing marina. Now it’s a community—complete with garden, dog park and bocce courts. Artists working in nearby studio space are celebrated and docking is available for short or longterm rental. If you’ve ever considered what making a life on the water in this area would be like, keep an eye on this space.
Published by Key West Magazine. View All Articles.
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