Key West businesses gradually reopen after Hurricane Irma

Familiar sights like Sloppy Joe's Bar slowly getting back to normal

KEY WEST, Fla. – Duval Street is slowly coming back to life after Hurricane Irma.

Although not bustling with tourists, people are starting to trickle into bars. 

Sloppy Joe's Bar opened for the first time in two weeks Thursday.

"We had anywhere between 6 and 8 inches of water in the bar," manager Rita MacMacain said.

It's not just for locals to start enjoying some downtime, but also so staffers could start working again. 

"It has been truly amazing how quickly things have turned around and gotten up and just trying to get people back to some normalcy in their lives," MacMacain said.

When Hurricane Wilma impacted Florida in 2005, Fantasy Fest was canceled. That's not the case this time around. Locals said the businesses depend on a big event like Fantasy Fest to bring in much-needed revenue.

"We've got a lot of these construction guys and contractor guys, you know, they have to eat. They like to drink beer, so they'll be pumping into the economy," one resident told Local 10 News. 

Businesses also depend on cruise ships that are a regular sight at Mallory Square. The first cruise ship is expected back in Key West by Sunday.

It's definitely progress, but there's still a long way to go.

Some hotels still can't open because of severe damage. 

Thai Life Floating Restaurant lost its roof during the storm. Capt. Tony's Saloon, the oldest bar in Florida, is expected to reopen in a week.

Key West gas stations are also finally fueling up, and businesses are posting signs outside to let people know they're open. 

Despite the setback, many locals know it could have been so much worse.

"Key West proper, besides tree damage, we fared very well," MacMacain said. "We were very blessed."

About the Author:

Jenise Fernandez joined the Local 10 News team in November 2014. She is thrilled to be back home reporting for the station she grew up watching. Jenise, who is from Miami and graduated from Florida International University, also interned at Local 10 while she was in college.