Pennsylvania-based businessman Pat Croce recently expanded his Key West ventures to include Island Dogs bar at 505 Front St.
Croce, former president of the Philadelphia ‘76ers basketball team, also owns the nearby Rum Barrel bar. His Pirate Soul Museum is sailing on to bluer economic waters, closing its doors July 31, with plans to reopen in St. Augustine.
“Downtown’s just so cool that we jumped at the chance to own another spot where people could dine and hang,” Croce said in a prepared statement.
Island Dogs, formerly owned by the Blue Martini Group, celebrated a grand reopening on July 31 with David Thibault, the longtime general manager of the Fat Tuesday bar on Duval Street, at the helm.
Jeff Sorg, a managing partner at the Rum Barrel, said he was pleased with the event. “It was a great turnout — lots of local faces and friends."
“It’s one of the nicest bars downtown, Thibault said. “Our goal was to turn it back into an island bar with great food.”
That includes new menu offerings like hot wings, edamame and nachos, plus “pub pizza” with white cheddar cheese based on a similar pie made at the Eagle Brook Saloon in Norfolk, Mass.
Some of the more unique items include Captain Crunch-breaded chicken fingers and upscale hotdogs like the Jamiaican dog with plantains and jerk seasoning or the Hawaiian dog with coconut and pineapple.
Island Dogs, featuring a large oval-shaped bar plus booth, table and outdoor seating, is situated near the Pier House’s parking lot just half a block off of Duval Street.
Sorg is also involved in the new Island Dogs. The bar briefly closed in June as the management changed hands.
"What we're looking to do with the food is keep it really simple, just really good bar food,” Sorg said. “It's what we expect people like when they're at a bar at all hours, especially late at night."
The Rum Barrel, launched in 2006, has local seafood and bar fare with more than 150 rums and specialty beers. It’s open from 11 a.m. until 4 a.m. with food service until 3:30 a.m.