After two weeks of online polling the field is now set for the inaugural Best of Upper Keys, People’s Choice Awards.

When it comes to naming the Best Fish Sandwich, people from as far as Alaska, Italy, France and South Africa helped narrow the selection down to Wahoo’s, the Square Grouper and Capt. Craig’s. 

“A majority of the votes came from the Florida Keys, including more than a quarter from Key Largo,” said Keys Weekly publisher Jason Koler. “We were excited to see a global audience weighing in on the contest as this shows how our community is appreciated around the world.”

Nearly 18,000 votes were cast and now the top three nominees in each category will appear in an online ballot to determine who will be named the “Best of…” for 2022. 

Voting begins at 12:01 a.m. this Friday, Oct. 7 and concludes at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 24. The winners will be announced at a celebration on Nov. 5 at Whale Harbor, with all proceeds earmarked for the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter. 

Sponsored by First Horizon Bank, Mariners Hospital, Promotions Guy, Whale Harbor, and Dr. Michelle, the gala will be a celebration of the spirit that makes the Upper Keys one of the most desirable places in the world to run a business, have a home and raise a family. 

“Just to land on the ballot is a big deal,” added Koler. “To be nominated as one of the best in your industry by your community is an accomplishment of its own.”Starting Friday, voters can submit one online ballot per day, so visit often throughout the process. Updates and reminders will be provided at, in our daily e-blast, Upper Keys Weekly print editions and social media.

Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 4-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.