Lounge above Square Grouper is where hip meets laid back
Fans of The Square Grouper restaurant in the Lower Keys have something new to gush over. It’s My New Joint, the new lounge abovestairs that is just as spectacular.
The bar-and-tapas place’s tag line explains it all — “because two joints are better than one.”
Owner Lynn Bell said she’s always envisioned this development.
“I always knew it could be this,” she said. “All the things I can’t do downstairs at Square Grouper, I can do upstairs at My New Joint. I can have a happy hour, live music, late night hours and a raw bar.”
Bell describes the lounge as “laid back” — and the comfy couches and rustic tables fit that bill. But it has a really groovy edge — lime green walls, exposed steam punk piping, and floors and walls finished to look like clouds of smoke. There’s plenty of progressive hints for bud lovers: The bar opens at 4:20 p.m. every day, the cocktails are named after popular strains, and the frozen drink machine is called Mary Jane’s Frozen Addiction.
My New Joint’s centerpiece of the lounge is a walk-in cooler that juts out into the 4,200-square-foot space. Glass doors give patrons a peek at the wine and 170 types of bottled craft beer available. And the kegs are neatly tucked inside with piping to the “pull” station behind the bar featuring 15 draft beers. The focal point has enough drama to demand total attention, if it weren’t for the other fabulous details like the molded nautilus sinks in the bathrooms where water circles the drain in high style.
The menu features fun food meant for sharing, with the same attention to detail as the fine dining menu downstairs. Patrons snack on cheese fondue, sliders, heaping platters of shrimp or oysters, meatballs or kabobs. Many of the menu items are priced “for two” with enough add-in extras to make the event truly custom to every taste bud. The dessert menu is just as good — mini-gingerbread donuts, sundaes and cream puffs.
“I think plenty of people in the Lower and Middle Keys like the idea of stopping for one last drink and a bite, or dessert, on their way home,” Bell said. “Plus, our late night hours are popular with the service industry. They can come in after work. We plan to start offering breakfast sandwiches the last hour we’re open on weekend nights.”
My New Joint just celebrated its one-month anniversary. The Square Grouper restaurant established itself as a star early in its 13-year history and is probably the most recognized restaurant in the Keys headed by a female chef. Bell never makes that distinction herself, shrugging one shoulder with a little smile.
“I started cooking for the staff of my parent’s inn in Vermont when I was 14 years old,” she said, adding that she isn’t formally trained. (You will never guess what her training is. Never.) She moved to the Keys 25 years ago and did a stint at Little Palm Island Resort before building and opening Square Grouper. She’s since raised and graduated two Conchs from Key West High School (both are pursuing degrees in hospitality) before turning her attention to her newest venture. It’s evident that My New Joint is a crossfade labor of love.
My New Joint
MM 22.5, Cudjoe Key
Open 4:20 to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 4:20 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.