Florida Keys Business
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Longtime local buys 'Looking Glass' for charters

Key West businessman Randy Larsen, owner of the Abbey Road Snack Shack, on South Roosevelt Boulevard, recently expanded his empire by adding a 28-foot, glass-bottom charter boat to his business plan.

Larsen, who has been involved in food service ventures in Key West for 25 years, closed on the "Looking Glass," a custom-built 2006 Spencer, with an inboard 240-horsepower diesel engine, last month, and has since run a number of shakedown cruises to such nautical destinations as Boca Grande, for activities like dolphin watching and light-tackle fishing.

"I always said that if I bought a charter boat, I'd want it to be one that I'd want to go out on myself," Larsen said. "This is definitely that boat."

The vessel, which had been docked at the Galleon Marina, has been moved to Garrison Bight. Larsen has several boat captains, including Betsy Smith, and Ashley O'Neil, at his disposal, and the boat is available for private charters, parties on the water, or snorkel or fishing trips.

"In my 14 years of captaining, the Looking Glass is one of the most perfect boats I've come across," O'Neal said. "It's comfortable for six passengers of all ages, and abilities. It's also spacious, stable and well-shaded, and the glass bottom provides a unique experience, as does snorkeling from the sturdy dive platform, and custom-built ladder."

Larsen has owned Abbey Road, located at the Hyatt Windward Pointe, since 2006, and made a point of capitalizing on its venerable history as the building where the Fab Four came to stay for a short visit, in 1964.

A series of black-and-white photos on the eatery's wall shows members of the legendary quartet lounging in the doorway of the building, then a cabana on the grounds of what was then the Key Wester Motel.

The menu, at the local-friendly establishment, also includes nods to the Beatles, with food items such as the "Yellow Submarine Fish Sandwich" ($12), and the "Get Back Bacon Cheeseburger" ($10.), or the Bungalow Bill Buffalo Chicken Wrap ($10).

Even the "Looking Glass" is named for a Beatles' song; likewise the owners-only barbecues out back from Abbey Road are named for all the band members.

Larsen has also paid tribute to the animal wildlife he sees on the grounds of the Hyatt Wyndward Pointe, upon whose grounds Abbey Road is located, with his distinctive iguana-themed T-shirts, and his gift shop, which contains a selection of books by local authors.

Larsen, who was the general manager of Papa's on Duval Street, was for many years a top-flite commercial photographer, with a studio on South Beach, Miami, and frequent work in L.A.

These days, he's a bundle of nervous energy, expanding Abbey Road's menu to include pizza, pretzels, and nachos, as well as a local-friendly full breakfast buffet, with eggs, pancakes, cereal, fruit, cheese and bagels, beginning at 10 a.m. Mondays.

Larsen also has ramped up his catering business, and can service a gathering of up to 100 people, with such local delicacies as pulled pineapple pork, black beans and rice and fried plantains, barbecued favorites, or fresh local seafood.

Larsen looks forward to hearing from new customers.

Anyone intersted in booking a charter on the Looking Glass should call 305-731-1315.

For catering, or anything to do with Abbey Road, call 305-293-5046.

tschmida@keysnews.com

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