Perhaps it’s the Mick Jagger-huge lips on Big Mouth Eatery’s logo outside that calls to mind rock ’n’ roll first. And when you walk inside the colorful restaurant, you also see graffiti-like art with skulls — rockers love skulls, right? Then you see the craft-sandwich-themed menu.
The choices include a category called “Classic Cuts,” with your typical comfort foods like grilled cheese and BLTs. There’s also a section that’s a little more rebellious and risk-taking — improvisational combos called “Lab Creations.” The “Big Bologna” would make Elvis proud: giant thick-sliced bologna, American cheese, lettuce, tomato and mustard on a hoagie roll.
Big Mouth Eatery’s sandwiches aren’t your grandma’s cucumber-on-triangular-white-bread variety. These are gut-bustingly flavorful, seriously punk-rock sammies.
When Keys Weekly spoke to co-owner and chef Jerry Forrester, our suspicions were confirmed that he is a rock ’n’ roll fan: He was blasting Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep till Brooklyn” in the background as he talked about the beginnings of Big Mouth Eatery.
“We love travel, music, going to events. Opening this business is the next adventure,” he said.
Rebecca and Jerry Forrester were married 21 years ago in Key West, and they always found their way back to the island chain. But the couple spent most of their relationship traveling and employed at restaurants — Rebecca for the most part doing front-of-house at Starbucks and Jerry working as a chef, most recently at Texas Roadhouse.
“We had talked about it a long time, opening our own business,” said Rebecca. “We came to the Keys a couple times last year. We came looking for businesses. We moved here from Houston in December 2020.”
Even though the couple knew 2020 was a risky time to open a restaurant, they took the leap anyway. “We worked all through COVID,” said Rebecca. “We saw how a restaurant could work. Even if you don’t have inside dining, you could still do to-go orders and online ordering.”
And Jerry saw that creating his own menu was finally his time to dance to his own beat.
“I do an experimental sandwich every week — The Lab Creation,” he said, explaining that he walks into a grocery store, looks at ingredients and gets inspired. “I taste them in my head and combine them. That’s where a lot of this comes from. Food should be exciting and fun. Right now, our Lab Creation is the Pollo Fuego — a wrap with jerk chicken, and sriracha, jalapenos and jack cheese. It’s kicking flavor.”
Big Mouth Eatery makes a point of catering to hungry fishermen and -women. Customers can order online, and the made-from-scratch sandwiches will be packed “water-friendly.” In addition, the typical sandwiches have 2 to 3 ounces more meat than Publix’s and Subway’s products. Fresh sides include jicama slaw, cucumber salad, Italian pasta, bacon-ranch salad, and corn and black bean salad.
“It seems like the Keys has niche food,” said Jerry. “You get fish dip and conch fritters, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s all great. But we tried to think what we can do differently for the community, and not so much cater to the tourists. We were really thinking about the locals. That’s what drove it.”
Big Mouth Eatery is located at 61 53rd Street, Marathon and is open from Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. Closed Sundays. For orders, call 305-414-8626. More information is at bigmoutheatery.com.