Sloppy Joe's Key West

Sloppy Joe's Bar
Sloppy Joe's Key West

Image Credit: CedarBendDrive

Sloppy Joe's Bar

201 DUVAL ST, KEY WEST, FL 33040

Sloppy Joe's Video

Sloppy Joe's History

Victoria Restaurant became Sloppy Joe's Key West

Victoria Restaurant at 201 Duval Street under construction in 1917. In 1937 it became Sloppy Joe's Bar. Photo from the Monroe County Library Collection. Image Credit: Florida Keys--Public Libraries

Sloppy Joe's Key West 1950s

Sloppy Joe's Bar at 201 Duval in the 1950s. Photo by Jeff Brodhead. Image Credit: Florida Keys--Public Libraries

Sloppy Joe's Key West 1965

Photo taken by Property Appraiser's office c1965; 201 Duval St.; built c1917; Sloppy Joe's Bar; Sqr 14, Pt Lot 3. Image Credit: Florida Keys--Public Libraries

The commencement of Sloppy Joe's Bar, the famous Key West saloon, was on December 5th, 1933, which was the day that the Prohibition was repealed. Prohibition is basically just the prohibiting of consuming, exporting, importing and selling of alcohol. This bar went through 2 name changes and 1 abrupt change of location before it eventually was named Sloppy Joe's, which has been frequented by millions of people since that time. When the government's prohibition ended in a miserable failure, Joe Russell became a rightful owner of The Blind Pig, a run-down building he leased for $3.00 a week. This turned into a rowdy yet relaxed saloon called The Silver Slipper when a dance level was added to it where one could always find gambling, good friends, good times, ten-cent shots of gin and fifteen cent shots of whiskey. Here is where I am thinking a long island iced tea might've been fifty cents!

Ernest Hemingway lived in Key West back in the day and became a favorite patron of and good friends with Joe Russell. It was Ernest who helped Joe decide to change the name of the bar to Sloppy Joe's. This new name came to be from a place called the Jose Garcia Rio Havana Club, which sold iced seafood and liquor. Since the floor was always wet from the melted ice his customers teased that Spanish Joe with managing a sloppy establishment and thus the name just sort of stuck.

Inside Sloppy Joes Key West

Image Credit: swiatekj

Sloppy Joe's soon moved to its current location on May 5th, 1937. This move was spurred on by Russell's refusal to pay the increase in the lease from $3.00 per week to $4.00! Fortunately, the previous Victoria restaurant located on the corner of Greene and Duval streets was vacant and Joe Russell bought it for a whopping $2,500. When Joe officially opened for business, Ernest Hemingway and his group of buddies were eager and passionate regulars. Ernest in fact considered himself a "silent partner" in this endeavor. When he left Key West back in 1939, he left a number of personal possessions, which were moved into a back room behind the bar and stayed there until 1962, a year after he died when his widow came and retrieved them. However, some of these were left behind to be displayed at the bar.

Sloppy Joes at night

Image Credit: Joe Shlabotnik

Fast forward quite a few years and today stands the very popular and well known Sloppy Joe's bar that is open three hundred and sixty five days a year from 9a.m.-4a.m. daily with hours reduced on Sundays from 12noon-4a.m. There is plenty of food, food and more food! and large, delicious beverages with some hilarious names and also a retail store where you can purchase all kinds of souvenirs like beer mugs, magnets, shot glasses and a whole lot more. Trip Advisor rated Sloppy Joe's as #3 out of 18 bars/clubs in Key West. The overall reviews written gave it a strong 4 out of a total of 5 stars. Guests seemed very happy with the food, drinks, entertainment and service and some even visited it more than once while on their vacation. Some complained of it being loud and smelling like beer...hello it IS a bar!

Sloppy Joe's Duval Street