Arthur Patterson, the owner and head chef at Arthur’s Island Kitchen in Key Largo, is offering the community some comfort food in these uncomfortable times.
Patterson, the long-time soccer coach at Coral Shores High School, got a new beginning when he opened Arthur’s Island Kitchen at VFW Post 10211 in Key Largo in November 2018. Since then, the restaurant has been lauded for providing veterans and the community with a modernized, homey establishment to bring their families.
Patterson loves the Keys. He says, “My three kids were born here, grew up here, went to school here. Some still reside here. When I first came down here in 1988, I turned around and gave my boss (in Cocoa Beach) my two-week notice and said I have to live in the Keys. Our family has been here ever since for over 30 years. This place means a lot to us.”
Patterson and his family have also weathered many of the literal and metaphorical storms with this community, something that gives him hope. He says, “We’ve gone through a lot, from hurricanes to tornadoes. We were just coming back from Irma, so we’ve just got to get through this and come out of this, too. And we will.”
Starting on Tuesday, April 7, Arthur’s will be offering free lunches at the restaurant every day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The VFW post and Arthurs’s is located next to the KLI Hardware store in Key Largo.
“We hope to do this for three weeks. We’re doing it with vets in mind, but everybody is welcome, of course,” says Patterson.
Patterson and his neighbors were inspired to provide the free meals because they know everyone is in a tight situation. When a neighbor suggested the free meals, Patterson “couldn’t wait to jump on the idea.”
Like a true chef, he already is brainstorming his menu. Roasted chicken, mojo sauces, roasted pork with mashed potatoes and beef tips in a burgundy sauce are all potentials.
“Homestyle food, nothing too exotic,” promises Patterson. “I might even try to do a meatloaf. I’m putting out everyday comfort food that everyone is gonna enjoy. Folks can come in and pick up something good to eat for the family or themselves.”
Acknowledging that his own situation as a new restaurant in this strange time is “beyond tough,” Patterson continues, saying, “We still have the lights on and the gas. We will continue to fight and work together, and we will come out stronger on the other end.”
Arthur’s joins several other Upper Keys restaurants providing free meals to those in need. The philanthropic gestures started with Islamorada Mayor Mike Forster, who began serving meals for those in need right after the governor ordered restaurants to close their dine-in service. The operation has since grown with donations and volunteers and recently expanded to Marathon.
In Tavernier, Twisted Shrimp, located at MM 87.7 oceanside, is helping those through the current hardship with a meal every Thursday and Friday from 4 to 5 p.m. In Key Largo, Harriette’s is providing breakfast to the unemployed daily from 9 to 11 a.m.