August 13, 2017

Photos by BRIAN BASHAM/The Citizen
The Roost at 508 Fleming St. was designed to look 'as classy and cozy as the interior of a yacht,' said owner Maria Sharpe, who oversaw the design details, including the watery blue walls and the map of the Florida Keys stenciled into the blue painted cement floor.

Photos by BRIAN BASHAM/The Citizen The Roost at 508 Fleming St. was designed to look 'as classy and cozy as the interior of a yacht,' said owner Maria Sharpe, who oversaw the design details, including the watery blue walls and the map of the Florida Keys stenciled into the blue painted cement floor.

There are no neon beer signs or chest-thumping speakers inside Key West’s newest drinking establishment.

There’s no pool table, kitchen, dance floor or dart board at The Roost, yet it’s not missing a thing. 

“I was just buying a building and a liquor license,” said Maria Sharpe, who bought the former Baby Cheapee’s liquor store at 508 Fleming St. with her husband, Rob, last year. “We’re partners with Chris Shultz in Mary Ellen’s, and when we opened that, there were no liquor licenses available. So when I heard Baby Cheapee’s was closing, I knew I wanted its license.”

And when the pair decided to design a liquor store that serves upscale craft cocktails, Maria Sharpe knew she wanted to create a place that she would enjoy.

“I wanted something different,” she said. “Something classy, yet cozy, and that’s when I decided to make it sort of reminiscent of the interior of a boat.”

Mission accomplished.

The Roost opened on May 22 and has been welcoming an appreciative collection of locals and visitors to its elegant interior ever since.

The cocktail experience at The Roost is about more than sitting at a bar and drinking. It’s about sinking in and settling down to enjoy a surprising and specially crafted cocktail. 

The watery blue walls and painted blue cement floor bring a sense of calm to the most chaotic of days, while a specially designed sound-dampening system in the ceiling lowers the volume on everything. 

“I could crank up the background music we always have playing and we’d still be able to sit here and carry on a conversation without having to scream into each other’s ear,” Maria Sharpe said from an exceedingly soft seat at one of the two tables in the “bow” of the building. She pointed to the unexpectedly high ceiling that’s covered with copper. “These tables and chairs are coveted spots at night.”

But if the tables are occupied, there’s plenty of space to get comfortable at the perfectly polished bar that’s topped with oxidized copper, Sharpe said, crediting local artists and craftsmen Jimmy Wray and Kris Roehrig for the aesthetics, and Joe Hughes and Patti Johnson for the floor design.

An inviting blend of comfort and class, The Roost offers sanctuary from the steamy summer nights, and instant relief, like that fleeting half-moment of silent shelter found under a highway overpass during a deafening downpour. The stillness, however fleeting, reminds us that all will be well again. The storm, and this too, shall pass.

With the neglected, former liquor store entirely unrecognizable, Rob and Maria Sharpe have raised the bar at The Roost.

Open from 11 a.m. to midnight, The Roost also serves ADD MENU AND CAVIAR HERE.

mmile@keysnews.com