Wednesday, June 21, 2017

More Changes

I miss  Yebo. I miss bunny chow and hot South African sausages and the couple who owned it and made a dream come true. And incidentally they also helped pioneer food trucks in Key West, a city determined to resist any innovation with every collective breath.  Nowadays the food truck is a banal pizza machine.and I hope the operators know what a struggle it was to get this location in the first place.            
But in this town time passes rapidly and people and businesses come and go, usually they come with much fanfare like Rum Barrel owned and built by a guy involved in sports medicine or some such.and now its all gone. The attention span is now focused according to the sign on the door on developing an empire around the Green Parrot and the neighboring barbecue restaurant. I suppose some other wide eyed hopeful will try here and may last another eleven years as did the Rum Barrel.
This convenience store location has puzzled me so it hasn't surprised me to see periodic changes in ownership, or at least in signage. However the note on the door says that Ana's a Cuban grocery much loved by visitors at the far end of Simonton Street is opening up a second location here. More empire building and who knows maybe that's what this place needs to thrive, a well known name. 
But let's face it, convenience stores are on every street corner in this city. I watch people walking around town clutching plastic bottles of water as though this town is a desert with hardly an oasis to slake your sudden tropical thirst. Gallery 511 selling "fine "art made it to about three years I think. 
Which leads me to wonder how you pay downtown rents selling pretzels. I am told Auntie Anne's is  a popular chain and as they close at midnight I guess the drinking crowd might be persuaded to get some solid food late but it seems like a lot of pretzels need to get sold. 
There is much lamentation that Duval Street is all chain stores but chain stores seem to stand the best chance of fronting the enormous costs the complexity of hiring and thus survive to become established. That was the lament of the old Fast Buck's who closed and found his only viable tenant was a chain drug store. Is that bad? I don't know but it seems inevitable.
The Side Bar is a new place to drink attached to Aqua the gay nightclub around the corner from Angela Street. This used to be Rexall Electric a solidly Conch business in the practical world of supplying electricians. Now it's a place to drink after watching men dressed as women sing on stage. Well, at least it's not a chain.
Flora and Flipp's closed in 2009 and the place has been empty since. Apparently 811 Fleming Street is ready to come back to life as a small neighborhood store as soon as the city agrees to let them sell beer and wine. They have a lot to live up to if anyone remembers Nancy Larsen who used to run the place (with a dog bowl of water outside).
The store is modest by all accounts and has been lovingly described as "shabby chic" by tourists who amble in for a soda, candy bar or suntan lotion, Larsen said. The building itself has been around since at least 1899, according to city maps from that year. The old-fashioned counter looks decades old, and the rows of shelves behind the register likely date to when the building housed a pharmacy in the 1940s.
"We had a very good time," Larsen said of her tenure at the store. "Everyone knows a store like this is not a big moneymaker, but we've enjoyed it very much and we've lived comfortably."
Flora & Flipp is kind of like the "Cheers" of convenience stores -- Larsen seems to know everyone's name.
It's clear after spending some time in the store that her regular customers adore her. She asks with genuine care about their children, inquires how work's going and keeps dog treats under the counter for their four-legged friends.
"It's almost like I've been adopted -- like I'm a surrogate mother," she said.
From the Citizen reporting the closure.
The new place should soon be open, they say:
I was surprised to see Eaton Bikes and the adjacent house now appears to be for sale for one point seven million bucks.From the Bascom Grooms website:

Convenience stores, bike shops, art galleries and bars, they come they go, the city abides.