I BOUGHT A BAR IN KEY WEST!
Well, the title isn't entirely correct. What I did was buy into a bar in Key West! Dave and Leslie Bevens, owners of The Cork and Stogie, after six years of ownership, were looking for a partner and it was just a natural fit for us. I'm grateful to both of them for taking me on!
To start with, The Cork' is our regular local bar. Before Dani and I moved a year ago, it was three blocks away. Now it's two blocks. We would stop by there several times a week and always felt right at home. It's a neighborhood bar, which also gets the most interesting visitors from out of town, so there's always someone interesting to chat with and who knows what might be the subject at hand?
Authors, comedians, actors, locals, and musicians seem to gravitate to the Cork'. It's that kind of place!
How this all came about was around the beginning of February Viva Zapata was up for sale. I ran over there when I heard about it and, along with two others made arrangements to buy the place. In the end however, I came to the realization that we really didn't have enough to do the deal. We'd be able to close on it and keep it alive for a few months, but after that the rent would be going up on a graduated scale and be double what it started, in the height of the slowest part of the year. If we had another $100,000 or so, it could work, but that wasn't the case. In the end we decided to pass on it. The owner had reserve people and they have since bought it and I wish them the very best!
Shortly after this, I was at the Cork and Stogie and Dave asked me if I'd be interested in joining the fold. For me it was a "no brainer". Dave and I were friends outside the Cork' and have known each other for years. He and Leslie are honest as the day is long and they call things as they see them, with no tap dancing involved, so to speak.
So, now I am a bar owner in Key West! What a thrill!
We have some things to accomplish and a few hurdles to crest to do so, however we're underway!
Me, being a musician, would love to have live music at the Cork! We have the appropriate license from the City of Key West, however we don't have the licenses from BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC, the companies that pay what's known in the music business as "the mechanical royalties", or the royalties that are paid when someone plays your song live at a venue, radio airplay, on a jukebox. So looking into that is on the agenda. The biggest hurdle is will it make money, or lose money? The Cork is extremely small. Without getting into specific numbers, lets just say that for the Cork to invest in paying for the mechanical rights to all three organizations, BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC, will it pay off? So, we're not sure if having live music is something that will work. It's ironic that a Nashville published songwriter (me) buys into a bar, but may not be able to have live music. I'm not complainig or groaning mind you. It is what it is. Over the years I've seen BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC sue bars and restaurants for not paying the fees and they win every time, rightfully so. What I've seen are damages judgements anywhere from $65,000 to close to $200,000. That's not an option. At the moment live music is on hold and we're using other sources for atmosphere music, namely Pandora.
We're also looking at a new A/C system. The old one just won't cut it when summer hits.
Patio seating is likewise a very large issue we have to look into. We have some homework to tackle concerning the City of Key West.
The porch of The Cork and Stogie seems to always draw the trade winds that flow through Key West.
Dani Hoy behind the bar at the Cork' She doesn't actually work there, but she looks like she does!
The Cork and Stogie's Living Room
So, now I'm an owner of a bar in Key West! I think the funniest thing about it all was, after Dave and I made the final agreement and I bought my share, we went and told bartenders Tiffany and Mark. Tiffany quit on the spot! HA HA! Actually, by coincidence, Tiffany was going to give her notice that day anyway, as it turned out. She's starting a paddle board yoga business! Tiffany's been just fantastic over the three years she's been here. I of course, only saw her as a bartender for those three years and not a co-worker, save for the last two weeks, but The Cork and it's patrons will all miss Tiffany! Good luck Tiffany!
As we speak, The Cork has an assortment of over 60 beers, an excellent wine selection, as well as a unique collection of cigars, many of which are not found on the island.
The Cork and Stogie is located at 1218 Duval St., Key West, Fl. Conch Republic U.S.A.
When you're in town, be sure to stop and check us out!!!!!
RIDE AROUND KEY WEST IN AN MGB
Recently Dave Senior and I went for a ride around Key West in an MGB owned by Brian Bradley.
If you'd like to see what Key West looks like from a 45 year old British sports car convertible, here it is! Thanks Dave and Brian!
To hear and download my music
Also available on iTunes, and CD Universe! Search: "Key West Chris"