BOB’S BUNZ FINDS NEW LOCATION IN ISLAMORADA

From left, Ashley Marvin, Bob Spencer and Destani Adams. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

Wearing his apron and chef’s cap, Bob Spencer looks around inside the new Bob’s Bunz Islamorada Restaurant and Bakery at MM 81, oceanside, in Islamorada. 

Inside the restaurant, Spencer marries his passions for baking and singing. On one side is the kitchen, seating and glass pastry case with sticky buns and cinnamon rolls, among other delicious food items. The other side has a stage with Bob’s collection of guitars, a drum set and other musical equipment for live entertainment. 

A native of Philadelphia, the pastry chef said he’s worked for the better part of a year to bring the new Bob’s Bunz to the former Heartbreakers. 

“I love to bake and I love the restaurant business, but I also love to sing,” Spencer said. “I may not be a musician or know how to play anything, but God blessed me with a good voice.”

Spencer’s taste for baking began during his days in Philadelphia when he entered a men’s bake-off at his local church. He later graduated from The Restaurant School in Philadelphia with a degree as pastry chef. He spent some time as an assistant pastry chef at Longwood Gardens – a mansion once owned by the du Pont family – which eventually became a horticulture garden and tourist destination. 

In the early 1990s, Spencer saw a job posting at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. He was head baker there for a year before moving on to the bakery department at Publix in Key Largo.

“I went from counter person to donut fryer, oven person, bread person and cake decorator,” Spencer said.

Spencer moved to Key West to open the new Publix supermarket as bakery manager. He was there for three years before moving on to become a line cook at the Hilton and Reverend Joe’s in Key West. It was there he learned how to cook breakfast. 

“I learned how to flip omelets and make eggs to different temperatures,” he said. “But I still wanted to be in the bakery. I called a friend at Publix in Key Largo to see if there was an opening. She said ‘yes.’ I wanted to get out of Key West, so I took a job at Publix in Key Largo.”

Spencer eventually went back to baker, this time at Islamorada Restaurant & Bakery. That led to an opportunity Spencer couldn’t pass on in 2002, when he bought The Islamorada Restaurant and Bakery, now known as Bob’s Bunz. 

“It didn’t feel real to me that I actually owned it,” Spencer said. “It took me a while to change things on the menu.”

Serving breakfast and lunch, Bob’s Bunz features a selection of delicious pastries, from cinnamon rolls to sticky buns. The menu includes everything from apple pie French toast and breakfast sandwiches to strawberry cheesecake waffle and a cheese omelet. 

“I was trained in classic French, but I gravitated more toward American style things,” Spencer said. “It’s bigger, it’s more butter and it’s more sugar. When you come to Bob’s Bunz, expect to get sugared up, creamed up and buttered up.”

With his love for the restaurant business also comes a passion for cake decorating. Spencer’s greatest artistic expression comes from creating special wedding cakes for a happy bride. 

Local residents and visitors coming to the new Bob’s Bunz can soon expect some live entertainment on the stage inside Bob’s Bunz during evenings from Wednesday through Sunday. It’s headed up by Spencer and Hedy Menendez. 

“It’s going to allow all musicians to come by and rock out,” Spencer said. 

More than anything, Spencer said he enjoys employing people. And workers love working for him. 

“I’ve worked at a lot of places where you see the owner every now and then. Bob’s here all the time,” said Destani Adams, who serves at the restaurant. “He’s Bob the baker and Bob the cook.” 

“He’s just an amazing boss all the way around,” said Ashley Marvin, general manager. 

The restaurant and bakery is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day except Tuesday. More information is at bobsbunz.com or Bob’s Bunz/Islamorada Restaurant & Bakery on Facebook.

If you would like to have the Weekly delivered to your mailbox or inbox along with our daily news blast, please subscribe here.

Jim McCarthy is a 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 3-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, mixed martial arts and golf. He loves to hit the links and play some softball with his Make A Play team. He also enjoys time with family (he's expecting a little boy in October).