It was 1968. David Wolkowsky’s Pier House an immediate success. Lacking in one thing, however. A bar.
The power brokers wanted a place to gather, mingle, make deals. Wolkowsky heard them.
The Chart Room immediately appeared out of nowhere. Wolkowshy took a standard hotel room, brought in a mahogany bar, and a few chairs. The Chart Room was born.
The room became the watering hole for the leaders and monied people of KeyWest, including drug dealers and fishermen.
The place where Jimmy Buffett and Bob Marley got their starts.
Today, the Chart Room is one of Key West’s greatest hidden treasures. A place where locals and guests meet and swap stories.
The dim lights and dark wood create a certain aura. The peanut barrel (shells on the floor the custom), a popcorn machine, and hots dogs add to the ambiance. All free.
Rosie von Engel in a 1998 piece in Solares Hill marking the Chart Room’s 30th birthday wrote: “The Chart Room is one of the last pieces of the soul of Key West.”
Today, the last piece.
TACOS paragraph 5. Steve Thompson’s recollection of the Chart Room back when.
The Chart Room Bar was a place to see / If you were anybody that’s where you’d be / A guy named Capt. Earl with the gift of gab / Said, “Never forget to pay your tab” / I appreciated the advice he was giving / He said, “Don’t ask anyone what they do for a living” / There was a guy with a pit bull named Bobby Brown / He told me he was the Sheriff in town / Jerry Jeff and Jimmy could sit at the bar / Like they were down in the islands at a Jack Tar / No one would bother them, no one would care / That’s why they came here, that’s why they were there / The bartender’s name was Chris Robinson / With his long black hair he looked Indian / To find a better bartender would be pretty hard / He also worked Bagatelle and Louie’s Backyard / Skeeter called information while while paying his tab / To get the phone number for Five Sixes cab / He just came from the drive-in on the far side of town / The movie just started when the screen blew down / The smugglers were generous and they’d spend a bit / But the lawyers ended up with most of it / Sometimes the boat captains would find a bale / And a lot of them ended up in jail / There were two phones side by side on the wall / With the Sheriff on one taking a call / A smuggler on the other waiting on hold / For news from a shrimp boat about his load / Manny was the City attorney’s name / His dad the Police Chief was Jimmy James / When Manny was charged with cocaine he fought it / When reporters asked his dad he said, “He was adopted.”
A tall guy named Mel and his wife were there / He said he looked for treasure most everywhere / He’d drop a gold hotdog in your hand as a gesture / Then asked if you’d like to be an investor /The Chart Room is still the best bar in the Keys / But the only thing left are the memories.
Enjoy your day!