Mark Miclette and his wife Holly have tried a few businesses ventures in Key West but eventually sold their interest in them so they could open a blues and cigar club at 300 Front St. Once the location of a Bahamian restaurant on the upper floor, the property also includes a small street-level shop that now sells liquor and premium cigars called the Southernmost Cigar Club.
The liquor and cigar shop opened first, while the owners refurbished the club upstairs.
“It took two years to all come about,” Mark said from the downstairs shop, “but I got what I wanted and then some.”
The 90 Mile Lounge opened earlier this year, serving liquor and a limited menu on the outdoor patio deck. The menu has since grown to include everything from Key West pink shrimp to Cajun pork baby burritos.
“It took about a month and I realized what was missing,” Mark said. “We needed music and I knew there was only one kind of music that went with a cigar club — blues.”
Within a short time, Mark had Keys resident Moose Boles and his band, Moose and the Bullet Proof Band performing steadily. Soul City plays every Wednesday and Jersey Slims plays alternative Mondays, when Larry Baeder is off.
“Moose we consider to be the house band,” Mark said. “But we have other groups, like Larry Baeder playing too.”
The entertainment at the 90 Mile Lounge begins at sunset and goes until around midnight.
Baeder, a Key Wester, who has played and recorded with a number of famous blues artists, performs every Sunday and every other Monday, beginning at sunset.
“I call it the southernmost blues club,” Baeder said, “because you can’t find a blues club south of it.”
Baeder compared the club to a friend’s living room or a fixed up basement with a great scotch bar and a concert going on.
“I think it’s the most relaxed atmosphere I’ve played at in a long time,” Baeder said.
“We want to be local friendly,” Mark said. “We offer locals a twenty-percent discount on cigars, drinks and food. The entertainment is free.”
While there’s no fee to join the cigar club, first time guests that bring their favorite cigar are told there will be a $10 fee on the next visit. Mark said it’s similar to a corkage fee restaurants charge people who bring their own wine.
The club’s manager, Lisa Hornby, is an expert on scotch.
“With Lisa’s guidance, we can now brag that we’re also the southernmost scotch club,” Mark said. “We have a premium collection of the best scotches available.”
The 90 Mile Lounge offers 44 single malt scotches, the oldest one being 30 years old, Mark said.
“I think the cigar club offering premium products brings people in the first time, but the blues entertainment keeps them coming back,” Mark said. “The cruise ship crowds keep us busy in the day, but the night crowd is made up of returning customers, and many of them are locals.”
The following two tabs change content below.
Michael Haskins' short stories have appeared in The Saturday Evening Post and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. ‘Vampire Slayer Murdered in Key West,’ published in EQMM, was nominated by the Private Eye Writers of America as the best short story of 2011.
His website is www.michaelhaskins.net.