Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Sat 12 May 2012 12:55
Pepe’s, Key West, Florida
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We came out of the little train museum, and en route to buy a bottle of water we met Derek, our 1st Mate from yesterday. Standing on the corner chatting we looked across the road and amazingly, there was Pepe’s.
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Such a thrill
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Our lovely waitress posed in her t-shirt, the décor great and Bear holding the menu
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Pepe’s Café was originally opened by Jose (Pepe) Pelaez in 1909 at 202 Duval Street in the building that is now the home of Rick’s Bar. Pepe’s became a popular eating and meeting place for many of the island’s residents and was open from the early morning until the wee hours.
Some say that more city and county business was transacted at Pepe’s than in the halls of government. In 1941, Pepe retired and sold the business to Eduardo Garcia, known locally as Curie. Pepe’s remained on Duval Street through the depression years and both World Wars. it was at this location that Harry Truman used to sneak away from the Secret Service to go go have coffee and talk to the locals.

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The business moved to Catherine Street in the building where El Siboney now resides and spent less than two years at that location before moving to it’s present location on Catherine Street. Built in 1913, the present structure which is Pepe’s Café, was formerly an ice cream shop servicing the many soldiers and sailors from the large military build-up during the World Wars. The building was moved one lot east in 1944 but the old street address of 806, remains on the door today. The neighbourhood was very busy in the 1970’s due to the fishing and shrimping industry, a post WWII economic boom for Key West.
In December of 1977, Curie sold his business to Allan Miller and Creighton and Barbara Webb. Allan became the sole owner in the early 1980’s. Pepe’s remains a gathering place for locals and tourists alike and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the year.
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Some fascinating 1909 facts on the back of the menu, including all sailor’s hero – Joshua Slocum lost at sea
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After a BLT for me and a mahi-mahi roll for Bear we went to the garden shop to buy each other a birthday t-shirt.
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Thank you to the couple we erupted from their quiet table in the corner to get to the t-shirt cupboard. The gentleman (Glen – also a sailor on his Cape Dory 270 called Gettinair) took our picture but the lady was the one to advise me on buying the original Pepe’s logo. The front and the great picture on the back. So very fitting as I was born in the Chinese year of the Rat.
Pepe's in Key West (1)
The photo that started it  - thank you Steve, Mags and Trooper