General store, brothel, bait and tackle, bar and restaurant; No Name Pub on Big Pine Key in the Florida Keys has been many things throughout the years. Brothel? Yes, brothel. Adds to the character of the place doesn’t it.
I was able to pay No Name Pub a visit for the first time this past weekend. My only regret was not being able to stay longer…and try their pizza!
It all started back in 1931 with the general store and bait and tackle shop. They remained that way until 1936 when the owners added a small room on to the main structure which became a restaurant. Thus the Pub was born.
In the late 1930’s in an effort to drum up business they turned the upstairs area into a brothel. Big Pine Key was full of fisherman spending their days on the water and their nights at the pub. Why not add a little rented female companionship! It was a good idea but the brothel was closed in the early 1940’s. Turns out the ladies of the night looked more like fish than tempting seductresses.
Sometime during the 1950s the general store and bait and tackle shop closed. The Pub was now 100% bar and restaurant and things were about ready to happen. No Name was added to the already Pub name and the bar became forever known as the No Name Pub.
No Name Pub quickly became a popular Keys hangout. The honky tonk atmosphere of beer drinking, pool shooting and great food eating became known from Miami To Key West. When the Pub got rockin’ it would get so smokey the customers would spill out into the backyard where dice, crap and card games would eventually break out. My kind of place.
I tweeted a message saying I was at the No Name Pub on Big Pine and had a few people tell me I had to have the pizza. Turns out they’re famous for mouthwatering pizza. The 1960’s was the era that the famous No Name pizza was born. Two great cooks from Italy brought their recipe with them when they worked at the Pub. For the past 40 years the Pub still uses the same great recipe. Why didn’t the recipe ever change? Rumor has it that when the cooks left they wrote the recipe on the kitchen wall so future Pub crew would never forget.
The 1970’s and 80’s was the rowdy time of the Pub’s history. Early Jimmy Buffett played on the juke box while people would drink, eat and dance to excess in the Pub. There was a lot of illegal money passing through the Keys back then and everyone loved to spend it. They had so much money in fact, they started hanging it on the walls!
No Name Pub is a living part of Florida Keys history. I know a lot of people jump on US 1 and head straight to Key West without stopping at small treasures like this. I’m guilty of the same crime. This was my first stop at No Name Pub and I have my buddy Shawn to thank for it. The Keys are filled with unique hole-in-the-wall places just like No Name Pub and deserve a visit. Next time you’re driving through the Keys, turn your trip into a bar hopping adventure and I guarantee you’ll fall even more in love with America’s little slice of the Caribbean.