The direction was given in Hemingway’s will: protect the 60 or so mitten kittens in his home.
Some are named for characters in his book, or after movie stars and descendents of his first cat, Polydacts aren’t recognized by breed registries.
That hasn’t stopped them from being adored by their human companions. Now, there’s a nearby eatery you can prance to after a tour of the Hemingway Home and Museum or any place in Old Town, just as fast as you can say, “meow!”
“We’re dog people. Yup. We have two min-pins, Sadie and Penny Lane.”
Leah Stockton, an Atlanta girl blew onto the island, as did many young professionals. She was taking a break in between college graduation, and, on a whim, started working in the food industry. Armed with a degree from Berry College in communications and journalism, she fell in love with a Wisconsin lad, and the two stuck with cashin’ in on the canteen business. The owners of the Six-Toed Cat tagged the couple to run one of the island’s newest eateries, and they couldn’t be more chipper than a kitten rescued from a shelter.
“We designed the menu after a three-day road trip on our way back from my hometown of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin,” Jon proudly chatted across the table of a baby blue paw. “We had all the time in the world to think about it. The owners approved the first menu we designed!”
His small town upbringing and Midwest values suit him and his new bride just splendidly in their new soda shop by the Southernmost Point and Hemingway Home and Museum. The young couple wants islanders and tourists to come in for the home baked goods, hospitality and an unrivaled atmosphere.
Leah, with her oversized brown eyes and hair to match remarked with all honesty, “We’re definitely after making every element happen.
You can dine inside or out and watch people walk down Whitehead Street, or hang out inside.
Don’t think of this as just a tourist place. The breakfast and lunch items are too delicious.”
This is what the cats are going wild about: the Lobster Benedict, made with Key Lime Hollandaise sauce, tomatoes, and avocado; and the Surf and Turf Omelet with skirt steak and “Key West Pink” shrimp. That was the item Walt Johnson, an Oceanographer with the U.S. Department of Interior, was polishing off at the yellow paw next to us.
“I think this place is pretty interesting. We enjoyed our lunch. The name caught our eye, and we all thought it’d be fun to try something different.”
Johnson was in a pack of six professional cats from Loudoun County, Va. The guys were on the prowl for a fancy feast before a four days and nights of howling, scratching, and camping with— get this – 19 Boy Scouts at Sea Base! Ron Dorman sunk his teeth into the Red Snapper Sandwich to fuel him for the boisterous outing with the boys.
“The sandwich was good. I have to say that.”
“We’re staying at Boyd’s Campground, and we were just wandering down the street looking for food,” Charles Schlosser, an electrical engineer relayed about the mealtime choice.
Found a little off the beaten path at the Six-Toed Cat…because nothing really went with Pilar…
The Six-Toed Cat is a sponsor of the Hemingway 5K set for Saturday, July 24. Leah is inviting everyone to come watch the race with them on their Whitehead Street porch with a glass of wine or beer!
“I cut the design out of cardboard then laid the material down on wood, and with a jigsaw, cut out the shape,” Jon exclaimed of his unique tabletops in the shape of a mitten kitten’s paw. You can bet your tikes and tots will be smitten when dining atop the kid-friendly feature.
This reporter polished off a Veggie Panini full of portabella mushrooms, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomato and spinach in a balsamic glaze with a couple of forkfuls of Chocolate Pudding Cake. It was so rich, a couple of bites sufficed, but this is perfect for a table of four to share.
Located at 823 Whitehead Street, the Six-Toed Cat is just a stone’s throw away from the Hemingway Home and Museum. Breakfast is served from 8:30 – noon, lunch from 11 am – 5 pm.
“I squeeze the lemons and limes fresh and add like a pitcher of sugar!” said server Crystal Ball, who has the treat to quench the thirsts of visitors and tourists – fresh squeezed limeade.
Looking for a Key-sey menu item? The Lobster Rueben, with lobster, sauerkraut, Gruyere cheese and a homemade 1000 island dressing, captures our island flavors and curbs hungry appetites. It’s served with coleslaw, potato salad or shoestring fries.
Bold menu items beckon passersby inside. “Mimosas! Only $4!”
On hand ready to roll out a “purr-fect” café experience are (left to right) Ray Satterwhite, Crystal Ball, Tommy Radziejewski, Leah and Jon Stockton. “We want people to relax and have fun in here,” remarked Leah. “We’re kid friendly. They always run around yelling about which color paw they want to sit at… and we know there will be food on the floor. We don’t care! That’s what kids do.”
A steady stream of Hemingway Home visitors truck past the Six-Toed Cat after indulging in stories about pillar, pennies, Spanish tile, #2 pencils and the collection of polydactyls!