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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Quit Your Job. Move to Key West. Open a Hamburger Joint

I went to Hawaii in 1977 and got a brainstorm of buying a McDonald's franchise in Honolulu. I was absolutely amazed at how much business the McDonald's near Waikiki Beach did. I immediately understood the value of a good location, an inexpensive product, and a potentially huge number of buyers. I got over Hawaii idea real quick. Nothing like feeling like a second class citizen in the United States.

Jimmy Buffet wrong a song about cheese burgers in paradise, except his homage referred to the now defunct lunch counter at Dennis Pharmacy on United and Simonton Streets. I loved that place just like Jimmy. It was caught in a time warp with the curved counters and its pedestrian menu. Lots of locals and cheap tourists went there for lunch. Prices were cheap and the food was pretty good. You can't make money in Key West by selling cheap food at cheap prices, however. The pharmacy closed a about five years ago. The building was remodeled and is now a granite clad bank. The place lost all of its character. And there is one less place to find a cheap hamburger in Paradise.

One place I would have loved to go to no longer exists. It was the Charcoal Hut that was located next door to the STRAND Theatre on Duval Street. The photos below show the Charcoal Hut as it appeared in the 1960s.

Can you imagine a real hamburger for $.35 in Key West - today ?

The cute hamburger joints of 50 years ago are gone. But you can still buy a
Cheese Burger in Paradise. Read on.


217 Duval Street - Old Town - Key West

Just listed, but not by me, the Business Opportunity to run a restaurant / bar on the hottest block of Duval Street in Old Town Key West. The listing Realtor describes this business opportunity this way:
"Great opportunity in the 200 block of world famous Duval Street to take advantage of 157 seat Restaurant/ Bar with attractive long term lease in place, and extensive build-out of historic two story building with phenomenal built in foot traffic. (SRX Liquor License in place.) Highly successful high volume operation, ready to take to the next level. Trade name does not convey."
The Key West Chamber of Commerce reports that Key West had 3,322,555 visitors in 2009 CLICK HERE. You can bet your bottom dollar that nearly every one of those visitors walked by the Cheese Burger joint at 217 Duval Street at least once during their visit. I write this confidently as 217 Duval Street is located just a couple of doors south of the World Famous Sloppy Joes and across the street from Ricks. The 100 to 600 blocks of Duval Street are the money blocks. Day trippers (boat people for the most part but there are some people who drive down from Miami for a few hours in Key West) do most of their walking and shopping in those six blocks. Visitors who stay several days can be seen repeatedly doing the Duval Crawl because they don't know any better. (Seriously.) Rents are high but so are the revenues that this dynamic location provides.

The 35 cent charcoal burgers of 50 years ago have been replaced by $10.95 cheese burgers. The locations are only a few blocks apart but the world is much different now than then. The weather and relaxed lifestyle are a constant, and you can 't put a price tag on that.

If you are looking to buy a place in Key West, please consider calling me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West, Florida. Unlike Hawaii, Key West does not have any volcanoes. Our beaches are not as sandy, sad to say. But everybody is made to feel welcome in Key West. You do not have to be born here to belong. Quit your job and move to Key West.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, move to Key West. Do note that several have moved to Key West and not been able to make a business as of late. Jose's Cantina, the Greek restaurant on Truman and the new Chinese place next to Antonia's are just a few examples of those who thought they too could move here and live in paradise only to see their dreams thwarted and their business go under. These are three of the latest casualites in Key West - their business opportunites went bust.

Gary Thomas said...

There are plenty of success stories as well.

I ate at Jose's once. Enough for me. Same for the Greek place. There was an Italian place there before. It went bust as well. The old Chinese place next to Antonia's got sold at a profit. As did its successor.

Speaking of Antonia's, it has been there since before I came to Key West in 1984. The building burned to the ground, but Antonia's was rebuilt to look just like it was before.

Places like Antonia's, Rick's, Sloppy Joe's become institutions. A great location on Duval Street, a good menu, a great hamburger cook, and good management might make this place a success as well.

This town is full of success stories. Go to the Monroe County Sheriff's website. There you can see the pages of losers. People who screw up their lives. Or go to a locals bar and look at the unhappy souls that drink their lives away. This is a great place to live and own a business. Some people are just better at life than others.

Gary

Anonymous said...

Yes, the haves versus the have nots. Not unique to Key West. You must accept your lot in life. If you don't you will be miserable. Some are elite; some are not. Some are meant for greatness; some are meant for the gutter. When you learn to accept that you will not be all you think you can be you will be happier with your life and yourself. Accept being the slave, the drudge, the worker bee. After all, not everyone can be the top of the pops - we have to have our servants afterall. Let them eat cake!

Anonymous said...

Also, you must have workers at the Duval Street restaurant that will show up to work! I have seen it happen to many times: great location and food but without a loyal staff you are nowhere. And even if the economy is bad, Key West is not the ideal place to find dedicated workers unless you are willing to pay them.

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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.