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Saturday, January 14, 2012


Life on My Terms by Key West Chris Rehm
< listen to “Life On My Terms” while you enjoy the Blog! This song has never been released at this point. I wrote it for my cousin Joe “JoCo”or “Jombo” Connolly when he passed a few years back. It’s an up beat song ‘cause that’s how Joe was! That’s him at the very end of the song too!>

Dog Friendly Bars

It’s funny, in a strange sort of way and has happened more than once. European visitors will stop me when I’m walking my dogs and express astonishment that dogs are not allowed in restaurants in Key West. “Everywhere you go in Europe, you’ll find dogs with their families in restaurants. Why not here?”

Welcome to the United States way of life: Lawsuits. The most recent being about a year and a half ago at Turtle Kraals, where a woman tripped over a dog and sued the establishment for $18,000.00. For the next six months no establishments allowed dogs in. After that it was decreed that dogs could be allowed in open air restaurants, as well as any bar that doesn’t serve food. This would be at the option of the bar or restaurant’s management. For instance, The Green Parrot is a bar that does not serve food, however because of a dog fight in there several years ago; the management does not allow dogs.

I also run into people who left their dogs at home and stop me for their doggie fix when they see my Whippets, Cajun and Tooloulou. Tourists do tell me that a lot of the B&Bs as well as hotels are dog friendly. I rely on them for this info as I don’t stay in them and have very little contact with them as a result.

Restaurants and bars, are not so much, regretfully. Following are some of the bars and restaurants that do allow dogs. However, what I’ve done here, was get the real experts on the subject, rather than use my own judgment, when rating the various dog friendly establishments. Therefor I’ve set up a panel of experts to assist me with the Blog this week. I’m certain no one will mind if I call out for a bit of help on this one.


SCHOONER WHARF: Schooner Wharf is a bar and outside restaurant that has a large reputation on allowing canines, to the point that it’s on many of their t-shirts! Key West legend Michael McCloud often plays with his dog, Cinderella, sitting righ on stage, in his guitar case! When the lawsuit had every bar including Schooner Wharf closed to dogs, Mike had his dog registered as a service dog. That took care of everything as far as Cinderella went! Covered seating and outside seating. Live music all day long starting at noon.

Cajun and Tooloulou Rating: 10

BLUE HEAVEN: Blue Heaven also allows dogs. I’ll often go there at night and have a beer under the water tower bar, having walked there from home with Cajun and Tooloulou. They love hanging out in the sand there. Outside seating and live musicmost of the time.

Cajun and Tooloulou rating: 8

MCCONNELL’s: McConnell’s Irish bar at 900 Duval has both an inside and outside patio. Owner Jerry McConnell loves dogs and beams from ear to ear when he sees one. Great staff and atmosphere! Perhaps the finest pint of Guinness in Key West is drawn here as well.

Cajun and Tooloulou rating: 10

TATOOS & SCARS: Tattoo & Scars bar is on Greene St. just a few doors down from Sloppy Joe’s. It’s owned by Cowboy Bill. I was in there a couple of times with the hounds. Inside seating.

Cajun and Tooloulou Rating: 8

SMOKIN TUNA: Smokin Tuna may be a bit hidden on Charles Street, directly across from Irish Kevin’s, but it’s a great stop for dogs. Like Blue Heaven, the floor is sand. Great live music too. Outside seating.

Cajun and Tooloulou Rating: 9

THE PORCH: The porch has been open a year and a half and is very dog friendly. Here is a beautiful setting in the Porter Mansion (circa 1842 or so) and an extremely wide selection of craft beers and a great, knowledgeable staff. Inside and outside seating.

Cajun and Tooloulou Rating: 10

THE CORK AND STOGIE: The Cork and Stogie is not a bar or a restaurant, however it does contain a beer and wine bar within. Very dog friendly Mom and Pop establishment with Dave and Leslie. The Cork and Stogie always has a great atmosphere and always a friendly crowd. Inside and outside seating, dogs welcome outside.

Cajun and Tooloulou Rating: 10

KEY WEST BAIT AND TACKLE: Key West Bait and Tackle also is not a bar or restaurant, per say, however it does have a bar in it that serves beer and wine. Inside and outside seating and salt of the earth, as you expect from a bait and tackle shop. Dogs welcome outside. The dogs love it and often in the season you’ll find artist Durf burning his craft. Dogs welcome for outside seating.

Cajun and Tooloulou Rating: 10

CAPTAIN TONY’S SALOON: A true Key West classic, Captain Tony’s is a bit of a split decision on dogs as they are permitted in until 7pm. However, after seven, no dogs. Inside seating and live music. Because of the 7pm rule…

Cajun and Tooloulou Rating: 7 (what else could it be?)

LOUIE’S BACK YARD: Louie’s Back Yard’s Afterdeck allows dogs until five pm. Additionally, it’s located directly next to Dog Beach. With an early curfew on the canines, my pooches were inclined to give the cut off time as their rating, as they did with Captain Tony’s. However, with the location right next to Dog Beach and a marvelous view to boot, the rating was charged up a couple of notches!

Cajun & Tooloulou rating: 7

THE RUM BAR: Perhaps the smallest indoor bar on the list, located in the base of the Speakeasy Hotel on the 1000 block of Duval, the Speakeasy is in a historic building. With a warm and cozy inside, with a fresh air outside porch overlooking Duval St. , as the name suggests there is an uncountable amount of Rums from around the Caribbean to be had, as well as beer and wine.

Cajun and Tooloulou Rating: 8

KRAWL OFF DUVAL: Krawl Off Duval is just that. Located just a couple of doors east of Duval on Southard, Krawl Off Duval is Key West’s second Craft Beer Bar. A great selection of beer from around the world, with an emphasis on draft. Inside seating with outside porch seating both upstairs and down on street level.

Cajun and Tooloulou Rating: 9

GEIGER KEY: Off of Key West there is Geiger Key Marina. If you don’t know where it is, I’m not going to ruin the secret!  Fabulous setting on the water, this is the back country Keys and dogs are welcome! A Tiki bar right on the water. Quiet, peaceful, really laid back atmosphere. Music on weekend evenings.

Cajun and Tooloulou Rating: 10

HOGFISH BAR & GRILL: The Hogfish again is off the beaten path, this time on Stock Island, right on the marina. There used to be a sign there that said “No Dogs”, however I’ve seen dogs there plenty of times, so perhaps its tongue in cheek? To be honest, I’ve never been there with Cajun and Tooloulou, so I must rate it myself. Rating: 10

B.O.’s Fishwagon: What can one say about B.O’s? To call it a shack, may be kind. But it’s real Key West and they allow dogs in there as well, as it’s open air with a corrugated roof, it’s an outdoor restaurant. Like the Hogfish and Geiger Key, they have several deliveries a day, direct from the docks, not a Sysco truck from Miami, by way of Panama, Ecuador, Guatemala, Chile… ex. It comes straight out of local waters. Friday night is the best time to go as Bong Hits for Geezers will be playing (Barry Cuda, Richard Crooks, and a rotating list of guest musicians including Kenny Fradley and Chief Billy Two Beers. If you don’t have fun at B.O.’s, get yourself a spade, dig a hole, and jump in, ‘cause you’re dead!

Cajun and Tooloulou Rating: 10

Special thanks to Cajun and Tooloulou for helping out!!! They’ve wandered all over Key West with me for since they arrived in my life over three years ago and are very, very well known all around town. They truly are experts on bars and often help guide my way home! Bottom line is, there are a fair amount of places where you can bring your dog to. Something to consider if you're thinking of visiting and bringing your pooch!


One of the fun things about writing a blog is viewing the stats! I get viewers of course from the U.S., but also Canada, the U.K., Russia, the Ukraine, China, India, and Brazil on a regular basis! Isn’t the internet amazing? Welcome to all!
The week between Christmas and New Year’s is the second busiest week in Key West, after Fantasy Fest. This year was no exception! Key West was packed! My friend Buscuit Miller was in town playing at Schooner Wharf for New Year’s. We went sailing with Captain Larry Poff and had a fantastic time! I was at Schooner Wharf for New Years as well and Buscuit and the band rocked the house!

After I left Schooner I stopped by McConnell’s at 900 Duval on my way home. Deb Hudson and the Groove Daddies were kicking it out, on this evening with Bubba Low Notes on bass, filling in for Din Allen.

Jeff Allen and Carol Ewald, owners of were back in town for a busman’s holiday, of sorts combining both business and pleasure. Beachfront Radio is the largest TropRock station in the world. They bought me dinner for my birthday on January 3! Thanks guys! Had a great time with them as well at McConnell’s, Captain Tony’s, and the Rum Barrel a couple of days later. Lots of fun! Hurry back guys!

On January 6th I stopped by The Green Parrot and caught the band “Donna The Buffalo”, for the first time. A lot of unfamiliar faces in the crowd and I realized that, like the Grateful Dead, these fans followed the entire tour! Fantastic! If I had to classify the fans, I’d put them in the same category as fans of the ‘Dead as well. It was a great time and that band was really good quality and a lot of fun, as were the fans! Throughout the gig I’d see people singing along with the band on their original reportois. A lot of the songs were organ (B3) based, so that was a real cool twist. I highly recommend catching one of their gigs if they come to your town!
Thanks! Hope you enjoyed this week’s Blog! See you next week!

All the Best From Key West!

“Key West Chris” Rehm


  1. Thanks Chris, I have come down the week before Xmas for the last few years and on my last trip I brought my dog Jager with me and stayed at the Caribbean House(right next to Blue Heaven). I took him everywhere with me. captain tony's was by far the best spot. Looking forward to trying some of the spots you have listed on our next trip down.

    1. Glad to have helped! Please also note the additional ones I missed in the comments that Squeezebox Sara mentioned in the comment below!

  2. Don't forget about Smallest Bar on Duval St. That's where Charlie Brown and I first met Blackheart Charlie! Also, Grand Vin, Sunset Pier, Dante's, Hog's Breath, and Salsa Loca are all dog friendly! The Boathouse has some outdoor tables you can use for their great happy hour.