Half Shell Raw Bar, Key West
After reading reviews of Half Shell Raw Bar here and elsewhere, and friends having raved about the place to us, we were really looking forward to eating here. So when we arrived to begin our vacation in Key West and promptly made our way over to Half Shell Raw Bar on Caroline Street for our first meal in the town, we walked in at around 9:30 pm on a Tuesday night (Sept. 2, 2008) and as soon as we walked in the door were shooed away by a really brusque manager who offered no apologies for closing the place early. He said they sometimes close early when business is slow, but when I asked him whether we would be okay to come back tomorrow, and whether the place would be open at 8:00 or 8:30 or 9:00 or whatever--we wanted to have at least some rough idea of what time we might be able to eat dinner--he wouldn't answer and just told us goodbye and pointed to the door. Wow. I have never experienced anything like that. We were tourists looking to enjoy our first meal in Key West at a place that came highly recommended, and this guy wouldn't even give us a rough idea of what hours the place was likely to be open or offer any apology for the early closing that night. We weren't looking for a freebie or to be babied, just something more than being pointed to the door we had just walked in and brusquely asked to leave because they were closing "NOW." Wowee. I'm not one to hold grudges, but I don't think we will ever return. Other places in Key West have oysters without the attitude. We ended up going across Caroline Street to Pepe's Cafe, another Key West institution (since 1909), where we got the friendly treatment and the tasty platter of bivalves that we had come to Key West for.
People having a bad day should not take it out on well-meaning customers. Pepe's: thumbs up. Half Shell: Thumbs down.