Anthony Tarracino was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey to a bootlegger father. He dropped out of the ninth grade to make and sell whiskey, illegal at the time due to Prohibition. After becoming a gambler, getting involved with the New Jersey Mafia, and being beaten and left for dead at the Newark city dump, he moved to Key West and decided to start over.
The building housing Captain Tony’s Saloon has a history as colorful as the town of Key West itself. When first constructed in 1851, 428 Greene Street was an ice house that doubled as the city morgue.
A tree growing in the middle of the bar and through the roof has a sordid history of its own and legends to accompany it. Come pull up a seat at the bar and let us tell you all about it…
Most of Hemingway’s productive years as an author took place in Key West during 1928-1938 and his favorite watering hole was a bar, owned by his good friend, Josie Russell called “Sloppy Joe’s” … not the one on Duval Street though; the original Sloppy Joes is now Captain Tony’s Saloon.
Anthony “Captain Tony” Tarracino, former mayor and “Mayor Emeritus” of the city of Key West, a former charter boat captain, saloon owner and still a visionary character who for years brought world attention to Key West, died peacefully Saturday, Nov. 1, 2008, at the age of 92.