According to, the term “OG,” which originally stood for “Original Gangster,” has come to mean “a slang term for someone who’s incredibly exceptional, authentic, or ‘old-school.’ It can be earnestly used for a legend like Michael Jordan or more ironically, like for that friend who can unwrap a Starburst with their mouth.”

Well, we don’t know about that Starburst stuff, but we know about exceptional and authentic when it comes to these Best of Marathon multiple award winners. And yes, perhaps these businesses are even legendary. For example, Sparky’s Landing has won Best Happy Hour in Marathon EVERY YEAR since our awards’ inception. 

These Best of Marathon OGs may be local legends, but they do know whom to thank: the community. Please read on for their answers to the question: What has winning multiple Best of Marathon Awards meant to you and your business?

DOLPHIN RESEARCH CENTER, Winner Best Tourist Attraction every year except 2014 and 2019

Throughout our history, Dolphin Research Center has always worked to be a good, involved partner in the Florida Keys community. To receive Best of Marathon recognition from our friends, neighbors and fans means the world to all of us.

— Rita Irwin, president/CEO, Dolphin Research Center 

SAM WILLIAMS, Winner Best Realtor 2017 and 2018

Best of Marathon, to me, is my favorite event. I love comedy and Jason Koler has done such an awesome job at making this s*** funny. I laugh my a** off. I don’t care if I win or lose. I want everyone to get their fair share. As for winning the Best of Marathon award, I’ve grown up with the Weekly all my career, advertising in the paper. It’s a small town. It helps keep the local market in the know. It’s got a stability the public recognizes.

— Sam Williams, Realtor, Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate Co.

SPARKY’S LANDING, Winner of Best Happy Hour every year

It means our hard work, heart, over-thinking and more are recognized, and we thank you!

— Carolyn Anthony, owner, Sparky’s Landing 

FLORIDA KEYS STEAK AND LOBSTER HOUSE, Winner Best Fine Dining 2017 and 2019, and Best Overall Restaurant 2018

What it means to me is how much I love my community and how much they support us here, and it means how much I love our loyal employees, our customers. I also think of my husband, John Ely. When he left me, I didn’t know how I would do this without him. I still feel like he’s with me. And here I am, still doing it.

— Maria Ely, Owner, Florida Keys Steak and Lobster House

DRIFTWOOD PIZZA, Winner Best Pizza 2018 and 2019

It means we’re doing our job. But for a big tourist town where people rely on the newspaper, it’s all good stuff. For a business owner, winning awards is a big thing. When it’s in the paper, it’s even better. It tells the community who is the most reliable.

— Tony Piscetello, co-owner, Driftwood Pizza

FLORIDA KEYS AQUARIUM ENCOUNTERS, Winner Best Place to Take the Kids 2015 to 2019

It’s a real honor because it’s voted for by locals. And for any of us to have a successful business, I feel you’ve got to have the local people from our town supporting us every year. It’s been an honor to have a long-running Best Place to Take the Kids. It’s been a great vote of confidence from the town, the City of Marathon and the people that live here.

— Ben Daughtry, President/CEO, Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters

LAZY DAYS, Winner Best Waterfront Dining, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017

It feels great that people like our food. It’s an honor to win. We have gotten more customers because of the awards. People actually look at the award when they come in — we have it right in the front. It’s the first thing they see.

— Bernardo Ornelas, owner, Lazy Days

D’ASIGN SOURCE, Winner Best Family-Owned Business 2014, Best Business 2014-2016, Best Contractor 2017

We are honored to be nominated and awarded for doing what we love, in the town we love!

— Lisa Silva, sales manager, D’Asign South

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