I found this picture of the Chart Room online at what appears to be a defunct blog. I never did have the wit to get my own picture, the nature of the place being what it was, alcohol and all, though the picture doesn't really illustrate the place that well. It was a space occupied by memories and history and people. Notably Jimmy Buffett getting his start and writers from the early 70s hanging out there. These good folks look more representative, sunburned happy tourists in this case off a passing boat.
The changes at the Pier House have created a wildfire of rum ors and some say the famed Chart Room bar is going to be turned into a t shirt shop which would be a cruel irony in a town filled with such awful stores yet not quite bountiful with weird bars. I am not a bar person (I don't like fishing either by the way, and I'm not gay so I suppose I disqualify for residence here) but I did like the Chart Room's eye wateringly strong Dark and Stormys. Though I'm not terribly squeamish when it comes to kitchen cleanliness I did have to be fairly inebriated before I would consume any of the free hot dogs steaming in the foetid atmosphere of the Chart Room. For some people the likely demise of this bizarre holdover from another era is a bitter pill to swallow. I have no doubt people will talk about the old Chart Room for decades. I shall endeavor not to be a bore about it. I wrote about the Pier House here:
The Pier House became a magnet for celebrities and media types, mostly because of Wolkowsky's unique personality and laissez-faire attitude. When writer Truman Capote arrived at the hotel to spend the winter he asked Wolkowsky to show him the best rooms. After viewing several choice units, Wolkowsky invited Capote over for a drink, to his residence of the moment, a 45-foot (14 m), two-bedroom, double-wide trailer, covered in bamboo and parked 10 feet (3.0 m) from the hotel's waterfront. Capote begged Wolkowsky to rent him the trailer. Wolkowsky finally agreed and moved into a suite of rooms, in his own hotel, for the winter, to accommodate the writer. Capote's "Answered Prayers" were written in Wolkowsky's waterfront trailer. Discarded handwritten pages were often given to Wolkowsky by Capote in gratitude for allowing him to write in the trailer. Years later, the papers were stolen from Wolkowsky's penthouse apartment, high atop Key West's former Kresge five and dime. Wolkowsky had restored the building, renting out the ground floor to department store "Fast Buck Freddies" and the upper floors to the Key West Parole Department. He is quoted as saying, "I never felt safer than when I lived above the Parole Board. The Capote papers were stolen by someone I know, not by a parolee".
In other news The Wharf restaurant on Summerland Key was rumored to be in foreclosure. As far as I can tell it is no such thing, it is simply for sale for several million dollars. My neighbor thought there was a buyer for it but who knows. They grow vegetables, cook fish and promote sustainability so it would be nice to see it transition survivie and prosper at Mile Marker 25.
The strangely named Sugarloaf Sandwich Company is also for sale, and it is an odd name for a shop on Summerland Key, not Sugarloaf, close by the Wharf. I asked the owner about the name and I forget the reason but I think it had to do with original plans to locate the shop on Sugarloaf Key, plans that went awry. It's done well at this location and I would be surprised were it not to do well under a new owner.
Key West is undergoing changes about which I shall write and take pictures as I watch the town develop. Yet every time something changes there is usually a collective intake of breath across town as people anticipate the worst. I try to convince myself these are the good old days as I keep on keeping on.