West Bar Hops
The Keep Calm and Hop On Tour
Hops MacBarley's Ongoing
Key West Bar Boondoggle
Scotty’s Front Street Stage
528 Front Street
Friday, March 5, 9:00 PM
Elysian Space Dust (bottle) $5.75
Scotty’s took over the big building that used to house Rum Barrel, Pat Croce’s pirate-themed restaurant. I first heard about the new bar in April of 2020, during the COVID lockdown, as it had been getting ready to open.
What a beating. You pour all your time and energy into your investment, putting together a business that will offer good food, great drinks and quality live music, and BLAMMO, a freaking pandemic stomps on you.
Several established bars around town folded up in that time, unable to pay their exorbitant rents without a solid and steady revenue stream.
So big kudos to Scotty’s for riding out the storm and opening up during what is still a very shaky time. But there are a lot of people in town lately, so hopefully a good bit of their cash ends up flowing thisaway.
Well, I flowed thisaway, eager to finally check out the new venue. I always liked this building, and Scotty (I’m going to assume the owner’s name is Scotty, OK?) did a good job of opening it up. The western half, where the stage is, was always pretty open, but in the other half, the bar used to take up too much space. RB tried to have seats on all sides and that just made things too tight, especially if you were trying to squeeze past to get to the rest rooms.
The bar room is nice and open now, with about a dozen meshy, curved back stools, an array of five TV’s, and a half-dozen tables. The lighting is a little mystifying at first. You see these round, bare-bulb light fixtures hanging down, beaming out white light, but the room still has a bluish and reddish tint going on.
Oh yeah, there are also multiple entrances. There might be only one “front door”, but both the bar room and the stage room have some floor-to-ceiling sliding windows. Maybe Scotty wanted to increase accessibility so you could just walk right in on a whim without having to walk all those 15 feet to the door and lose your whim on the whay.
The actual front door provides perks, like a hostess and menus and flyers, but I wasn’t gonna eat, and I had seen the flyer on a walk-by before, so I was fine with walking in via the window. Something sneaky about it.
Before getting down the the business part of the Hop, I checked out the band a little. They were a trio and they were rockin’. Sound in here is really good, as you’d expect from a venue that emphasizes music. The singer was a slim woman with blonde hair that was buzzed on the sides and in a thick comb-over wave on top. (That’s probably a pretty shitty description of a style that looked quite good on her.)
And she had pipes! A couple times while I was there, she reached deep and unleashed a crazy strong loud long note. Dayumm. Guitarist was cranking out some damn good licks too. These guys could play!
The thought brushed my mind to take a seat at a table in the stage room so I could watch them perform, but, nah, it’s a Bar Tour, so I chose my seat at the bar and settled in. You can hear the music just fine in here anyway, you just don’t get as good a view of them. You get a great view of the TVs, though. Too bad there was nothing on that I wanted to watch. Ha.
My barkeep was really friendly. Nice to see someone who seemed happy in her work. When I asked for an IPA she had a momentary pause to take mental inventory. I noticed the bank of chrome beer taps on the backbar were all still lacking handles, indicating that draughts would not be a factor. But her face lit up, she reached the fridge and pulled out a bottle of Elysian Space Dust IPA. I had had it before and immediately decided that I would have it again.
And it was only $5.75! Best buy of the year so far! And frosty cold.
She told me that the band was called The Good Thing. I noticed they are scheduled here a couple more times in the coming months. A couple of tunes that they did were good bluesy numbers, and well done they were.
The bar was filling up pretty well. Most seats were taken and all but two of the tables were occupied. I couldn’t tell about the stage room, but I did see some people at tables when I came in.
I had nestled my Space Dust bottle into a koozie, and it seemed to frustrate my barkeep. She was very attentive to everyone and I know she was dying to see how empty that bottle was. I toyed with her by taking swigs only when she wasn't looking, so she wouldn't be able to tell by the bottle angle how many floz were left. (You know, floz -- fl.oz.)
The menu had an interesting selection of casual food, including Conch Fritters, Scotty’s Burgers (some fancy versions are over $20, but the basic is $14), and Bacon Mac-N-Cheese Fries. Mmmmm. Does that sing or what?
And they have Curried Goat. Not an item you see every day.
Have you ever seen a goat’s eye? It is freaking weird. Where we have a dark round circle, they have a long black horizontal rectangle. I had a goat follow me on a run many years ago (when I did that kind of thing). He ran with me all the way to the end, almost three miles. Not the kind of behavior I expected out of a farmyard animal. And he wouldn’t go away. It was like he was thinking, “Aren’t we gonna run back?”
I’m like, WTF am I gonna do with this damn goat?? (Had I known, I might have curried him.)
Fortunately, though, he was wearing a collar and had a tag that gave his name, “Jack”, and a phone number. When I called and told the man what had happened, he sounded a bit peeved when he said, “Againnn??” Made me wonder who the heck else Jack had joined up with before.
While I waited for Old MacDonald to get to my place, I held Jack loosely by the collar. I did not want him running off. All the while, I watched his creepy eyes with uneasy interest. That big gold ball with that funky black stripe. WTF was he even looking at?? No way to read any emotion in that eye. I couldn’t tell if he was scared, happy, angry, winsome? I felt like he could at any second bite my nose off.
Old Mac showed up a few minutes later and pulled up in front in his faded red pickup truck. I expected him to get out and come gather up his animal, but instead, he leaned across, and pushed open the passenger door. Jack pulled away from my hold, trotted casually over and jumped up into the passenger seat. Old Mac pulled out sharply, letting the inertia-break slam the door shut, banged (bung?) a u-ey and roared off farmward.
So, um, ya. Curried Goat.
One of Scotty's desserts is listed as “Silent Niki’s Key Lime Pie Squares – Made in house from scratch.” From scratch, you say. I had to wonder how long that would take. Gather ingredients, mix the filling, make the crust, fill it, top it, serve it. Better not be in a hurry. =)
My one and done was done, but I had one more thing to do before departing. Yup, hit the head.
I normally would not tell you about this, but the men’s room décor is worth mentioning: LPs and their cardboard album covers. All over the walls, almost like wallpaper. All your favorites too: The Go-Go’s, Men Without Hats, Englebert Humperdinck, Don Ho, and Iron Butterfly’s famous “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida” LP – with that classic 17-minute track that has its own Wikipedia page.
Legend has it that the title derives from the words “In the Garden of Eden.” Taken that way, it could be a tender love song:
In the Garden of Eden, honey
Don't you know that I'm lovin' you
In the Garden of Eden, baby
Don't you know that I'll always be true
Oh, won't you come with me
And take my hand
Oh, won't you come with me
And walk this land
Please take my hand.
Awww, so sweet.
Anyway, see that LP on the bottom row, with all the weird cut-out shapes? Those are all Darth Vader helmets.
How do I know this? I’m the one who cut them out, with my laser. A friend and customer named Marek (though he pronounced it Madek) used to be a Mallory Square vendor, and for a while he was doing Recycled Vinyl: trinkets and jewelry made from shapes laser-cut out of old records.
So, restroom duty done, beer gone, band finished, I proclaimed Hop Done and moseyed on.