New gastro pub pushes the envelope with whimsical fare - A sandwich is sitting on the side of fries - French fries
The herbed blue burger is every bit of good. It’s ground short rib, blue cheese compound.

Expect to relish some pub fare not seen anywhere else while indulging in a unique brew and wine selection at the new Reefers gastropub in Islamorada.

Longtime friends and owners Jason Webb and Bayne Hayes are sharing their passion, experience and style with eclectic dishes and drinks on tap and in the bottle. Webb, who owned a business in Atlanta, and Hayes, who started cooking in Atlanta and owned a barbecue restaurant in Flagler Beach, wanted to embark on a new endeavor, specifically a gastropub. The two concluded their respective businesses to start a new one that landed on Morada Way in Islamorada.

“Restaurants, like any business, are all about location,” Webb said. “I have been visiting the Keys for a long time with family, being on the water mostly. We ended coming down to Nest Key and did a camping trip. My wife had never been to the Keys before. She fell in love with the place.”

Looking for a location, Webb said he stumbled upon the building on Morada Way, the site of the former Fern Inn. He then reached out to Hayes about the project and brought him down to look. Hayes has a diverse background in food, with 10-plus years in fine dining and 12 years as a barbecue restaurant owner.

“When this project started coming to fruition, I was like ‘I can really get on board with doing a gastro,’” Hayes said. “It was the right timing and the right way to bring my passion out with some of my food.”

A majority of the menu items are geared toward locals as Hayes and Webb say they’re trying to fill a void they believe exists in the Keys — fare not seen elsewhere.

“To me, it’s the biggest thing that sells as far as the dining experience goes,” he said. “We have French-inspired charcuterie trays, bruleed beef marrow, but we also bridge the gap into pub fare dishes like Scotch eggs. We also crossed into Asian plates.”

On the menu are appetizers such as beer cheese fries, wings, and beef Carpaccio. One item in particular that’s worth trying is the bacon blue chips. A plate full of house chips are served up with caramelized bacon, blue cheese chunks, balsamic reduction and drizzled in blue cheese sauce. It’s the perfect menu item to share with friends. 

As for handheld options, immerse yourself in the herbed blue burger or pork belly tacos. If you’re looking for larger plate options, try the fish and chips, seafood pasta or the low country boil, which comes with lobster tail, shrimp, king crab leg, corn on the cob and potatoes.  Greens and soups are also on the menu.

Drinkwise, Reefers offers up some fun options to try. Webb said they have signature spritzers with homemade syrups, like blackberry and peach. There are also options leaning toward the European spectrum with the Bananenwizen, which is a juice banana mixed with classic hefeweissen beer. 

With Florida craft beer, there are taps patrons won’t find anywhere else. Cellar and wine country favorites are also available. 

“We’re going to push boundaries for the Keys,” Webb said. “We get it. You’re sick of seeing the same thing every time. You want to try something new. We don’t mind pouring a sour beer for somebody and watching them fall in love with it. I think that’s what people are going to feel and experience here.”

Reefers is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. More information is at reeferspub.com, Reefer’s Facebook page or 305-425-1980.

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