Half Shell Raw Bar celebrates its 50th year with a seafood festival. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly

The Key West heat was steamy, but the drinks were cold and the oysters were on ice — and the half shell — at the Half Shell Raw Bar’s 50th anniversary seafood festival.

The event filled the parking lot at the foot of Margaret Street, where a stage featured live music all day and food stations offered Maine lobsters, raw oysters, steamed shrimp, sauce-soaked ribs, corn on the cob and plenty more.

“Originally built as a shrimp warehouse, the Half Shell Raw Bar was established as a restaurant in 1972, just as the Key West shrimp industry moved north to Stock Island,” states the restaurant’s website. “Always a favorite with the fishing captains and locals, the Half Shell has remained a true Key West icon. Laid back, friendly and casual, it’s the original Key West Seafood Restaurant.”

Scores of current and former employees joined the celebration and rehashed the good old days (often with stories that can’t be printed in a family-friendly newspaper.) In this day and age, 50 years is a milestone for any business, and the Half Shell Raw Bar’s birthday bash didn’t disappoint.

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.