Key West is changing. Both ways. Better and worse. Such the nature of growth.

Tourism has shot up in recent years. From all points of the earth, people come to visit. Problems have arisen. Traffic, parking, affordable housing, bicycle fatalities and injuries, infrastructure problems, etc. Not all problems dealt with expeditiously. Problems become worse.

Berlin’s an example of negative change. At least from this writer’s perspective. I believe from others, also.

Berlin’s the bar to the A & B lobster House. Both a Key West tradition. The finest in food and service. Pricey. Customers pleased with the quality of the food and service. No one complained.

Many locals regulars. Especially at Berlin’s bar.

The bar reflective of a men’s club from years ago. Dark wood, maroon leather stools and easy chairs.

Smoking was permitted. There are still smokers in the world. As I understand, Berlin’s was originally a cigar bar. Still till recently. Sold cigars and permitted them to be smoked. Cigarette smoking permitted also.

Berlin’s filtration system the best! Whether cigar or cigarette smoke, it was immediately sucked up and gone.

I enjoy a cigarette with my drink. One of the features that attracted me to Berlin’s originally. Then the food and service.

The bar full on friday and saturday evenings with local regulars. One happy family/group.

Tourists seem to prefer the dining room itself, the A & B Lobster House.

Several months ago, the property was sold. Several purchasers, including locals. The purchasers brought change.

No smoking. A tragedy for one who enjoys a cigarette or two with fine dining.

From my perspective after having been a customer for many years, smoking had not kept non-smokers away.

Parking a problem everywhere in Key West. Not if you were dining at A & B or Berlin’s. A parking lot next door. Free. Merely bring a copy of your dinner tab to give the attendant when you left.

Last night, the attendant said I had to pay. New rule. $10 for 2 hours. I told him I generally stay 3-4 hours. He said then it would cost $10 more. $20.

Did not make me a happy camper. Felt I was being ripped off. I parked for free 2 blocks away.

Appreciate my dinner bill for 2 is rarely under $150. Without tip. Tips always generous. Good service calls for it. If I was entertaining, the food and drink bill alone for 4 would be over $300. With tip, in the area of $400.

And they want me to pay to park! Something not required in past years.

The bar became packed as the evening wore on. I knew no one. I was the only regular. The rest tourists. Exuberant, noisy. Drinking only. Waiting for a table in the dining room.

One reason I eat at Berlin’s on friday or saturday evening is Bria Ansara sings. An outstanding vocalist! The rowdiness at the bar prevented her from being heard.

The food. The quality may be slipping. My Maine lobster dish was its usual quality. My companion ordered prime rib. Always a beautiful juicy cut. Not last night. It had not been cooked that day. A medium cooked slice was black throughout. I tasted it. The flavor was there. Not as it should be, however. A cut costing around $40.

Bottom line, I will not be a frequent customer from this point forward. Things I value have been taken away. I feel I am being cheated.

Key West has enough excellent restaurants. Berlin’s is replaceable.

After Berlin’s, stopped at the Chart Room. A good crowd. John bartending.

Ran into David. Love David! Rarely see him anymore. He told me he has a new watering hole. The Side Bar at Aqua. I will have to stop in occasionally so I can visit with him.

Berlin’s represents a backward slide. A forward moving one is the Duval Promenade/Mall.

There are those who believe the street in front of restaurants and retail establishments on Duval should be put to use. Cut out vehicular traffic. Turn Duval into a pedestrian walk way.

The City Commission has allowed a 3 month test to see if the proposal is workable. Being tried on friday and saturday evenings. This the second week.

I visited twice last week. Will stop by this evening. The plan an evolving one. Trial and error. Will improve each week. Hopefully it will be deemed workable at the end of 3 months.

The Promenade a great idea in the making. Adding to the pleasure of Key West. Not taking away from something excellent as the new owners of Berlin’s and A & B are doing.

A Key West friend has died. Two days ago. George Weber. Age 64. He leaves many friends, as well as his partner of 38 years Art Roger.

George was a close friend of Donna Barnett and Terri White. It is through them that I met George.

May he rest in peace.

Big night ahead. Syracuse/Duke at 6. The Carrier Dome in Syracuse. A 35,000 plus sell out.

Duke favored by 4.5 points. Duke ranked #1. Syracuse unranked. However Syracuse beat Duke on Duke’s home court 2 weeks ago.

May the gods shine upon Syracuse again this evening!

I will probably watch the game at the Chart Room.

Enjoy your day!



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