In a huge package deal that includes a cluster of Key West waterfront restaurants and a marina, a local family has purchased A & B Lobster House and surrounding buildings at the Key West Historic Seaport downtown.
The buyers, the Smith family, which includes attorney Barton Smith, announced the deal Oct. 8 but did not disclose the sale price.
The Smiths, the investors behind the Stock Island Marina Village project off Shrimp Road, now own A & B, Berlin’s Cigar & Cocktail Bar, Alonzo’s Oyster Bar, White Tarpon Bar along with a 45-slip marina, several retail spaces and the 70-space parking lot at 700 Front St.
Also packaged into the sale were the buildings that house the Commodore Waterfront Restaurant and the Boathouse Bar and Grill. Those leases remain intact, a spokesman for the buyers said.
The project manager is the Red Pants Collection, whose president Mike Hartman said the purchase is about both expansion and the preservation of local nostalgia and traditions developed by the former owners, Gene and Will Smith.
A & B has been around since 1947.
“We want to build upon the recognized successes of Gene and Will,” said Hartman. “We understand this location is very much a part of the history of Key West. But it is also instrumental to the future of Key West, especially relating to local jobs, tourism growth and local business development.”
Hartman on Wednesday said the deal was struck Sept. 27 and that the Smith family won’t make any major changes to the existing restaurants and is keeping the management team in place. He added that the White Tarpon presents the “greatest opportunity for growth.”
He wouldn’t provide the sale price, saying the buyers were keeping it a secret out of respect for the sellers being a family-owned operation.
“That’s not what we want to focus on,” Hartman said, of the sale price.