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How Bob Marley’s Son Learned From Failure And Started A Multi-Million Dollar Coffee Company

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Marley Coffee is still a relatively small company, having churned out $6 million in revenue in 2013. But founder Rohan Marley, one of Bob Marley’s children, has big plans for his Jamaican-born coffee business.

In 1999, Rohan Marley was 27. He had played linebacker for the University of Miamibefore moving on to the Canadian Football League. Now he found himself in New York City, wanting to do more with his life–to make a name for himself as a Marley.

In a serendipitous twist, a friend contacted Marley about an opportunity to purchase a property in Jamaica. Though he’d only lived in Jamaica as a child before moving to the U.S. at age 12, Marley had recently received $200,000 in royalties from his father’s music. So he made a trip to Jamaica to look at the property and couldn’t believe what he found.

“The first thing I saw was all the fruits–apple, starfruit, pineapple–tons of fruit growing wildly, and I was seeing all the food going to waste,” he recalls in his thick Jamaican accent. “While I’m walking, I’m thinking, ‘Wow, this land is really fertile.’ When I approached the river, I couldn’t believe my eyes that this property was in Jamaica. Here’s this beautiful piece of property for sale–I thought it was a conspiracy.”

On impulse, Marley forked over his $200,000 and bought the 52-acre property. As he was walking off the land, he noticed an entire community of people standing there, trying to figure out what he was up to. “The only thing I could think to say was, ‘What’s the community known for?’ They said coffee, and by the time they knew my name, I was saying, ‘Well alright, the community is known for coffee, so let’s get down to specifics,'” he says. “My next question: ‘Do you know anything about coffee? They said, ‘Yes, Mr. Marley, we’ve been farming all our lives.'”

It didn’t take long for him to decide that he wanted to start a coffee business–one that was emphatically organic. “I’m a Rasta man, and I can’t have a piece of land that isn’t something I want to eat from,” he explains.

It was a long haul from Marley’s initial coffee-growing idea to creating a functional business. Marley spent eight years applying for an export license, organic certification, and a coffee-growers license. The learning curve was steep.

“I gave my coffee to a roaster in Jamaica–I gave him 1,000 pounds–and he never returned the bag. He said it was all bad coffee,” Marley remembers. “I decided this wasn’t working for me. I told the farmers, ‘Take all the raw materials, sell it, do what you need to do to keep the farm going.'”

Between 2004 and 2006, Marley helped his sister start a clothing company, which eventually ran out of money and shut down. Marley once again needed to reevaluate his life. He packed two duffel bags and headed to Ethiopia.

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This Key West Bar Is an Ex-Morgue With Bodies Still Buried in It

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Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Shel Silverstein, Tennessee Williams and the Mayor of Margaritaville himself, Jimmy Buffet, have all enjoyed a drink (or 8) at Captain Tony’s Saloon in Key West, Fla. What the tourist guide books often fail to note when promoting the saloon is the fact that it was established in 1851 as an icehouse and morgue.

Not only was the building used as Key West’s first morgue, it was also the location of the infamous “Hanging Tree,” which was responsible for hanging 16 pirates and one woman who had stabbed her husband and two children to death. Ghost hunters claim she haunts the bar to this day. She’s known as the “Lady in Blue” (named after both the blue dress she wore when she chopped up her family, and the color her skin turned as she died).


In 1865 a massive hurricane hit Key West, and corpses were sent sprawling:

“All of the bodies were missing after the hurricane hit, except one,” said Joe Faber, the current owner of Captain Tony’s Saloon. “According to some old Conchs that I spoke with when researching the history, they found one body that was near the outside of the building, which is now the inside of the building where the pool room is. They never found the others, so what the Bahamian people did is decide to make that an unofficial grave site. They buried the body they found, built a wall around the area, and put bottles full of holy water in the wall.” —  Jeff Belanger


At the turn of the century, the building was used as a cigar factory and then as a speakeasy, where men and women gambled and cavorted, fast and loose. Of course it was also a bootleg distributor of rum. Sloppy Joe’s opened in 1933 and became a favorite eatery of Ernest Hemingway.

In 1938, Josie Russell, in a dispute with the landlord of 428 Greene Street over a $1 rent increase and a clause in the lease stating that all fixtures must stay if he ended the lease, decided to move the entire bar in the middle of the night (including the fixtures) a half block away to the corner of Duval and Greene Street.  During the move,  Hemingway insisted on possession of the urinal.  He said, “His hard earned money paid for it.” The urinal can still be viewed at the Hemingway House where it remains as a cat trough.

In 1940, the building was leased to Morgan Bird, who opened a gay saloon, called the Duval Club. The Navy prohibited sailors from frequenting the club. Unfortunately, without the revenue of sailors on leave the club shut down. Then, in 1958 Captain Tony bought the bar.

Born Anthony Tarracino in Elizabeth, N.J., “Captain Tony’s” father was a bootlegger who had dropped out of ninth grade to sell booze during Prohibition. Sadly, Captain Tony’s dad was a degenerate gambler who ultimate got involved with the New Jersey Mafia. In 1947, Tony was “beaten and left for dead at the Newark city dump,” after which he moved to Key West, in 1948.

Captain Tony’s pub expanded throughout the twentieth century. Besides building around the hanging tree, owners expanded the saloon to include a billiards room, building over and around the wall containing holy water. In the 1980s, while taking up the old plywood flooring, the bones from between eight and fifteen bodies were discovered. A skeletal reminder of the find hangs behind the bar today. Also unearthed was the grave marker of a young woman named Elvira, which is now exposed in the cement next to a pool table. — Jeff Belanger

Captain Tony’s is an iconic divey beach bar named after a modern maritime icon who was once a fishing boat captain gunrunner, gambler, and Mayor of Key West. The late, great, captain Tony. Father to 13 children by five wives, Captain Tony served the U.S. government as a gunrunner during the Bay of Pigs.

“All you need in this life is a tremendous sex drive and a great ego, brains don’t mean a shit.” — Captain Tony.

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And for good measure, here’s the Jimmy Buffett song, “The Last Mango in Paris” about our American hero, Captain Tony:

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Local Favorites from around Clearwater Beach

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Local Favorites from around Clearwater Beach

Frenchys3forallWe are going to start with appetizers. These three are a favorite of ours at Frenchy’s Original Cafe on Clearwater Beach. (left) Cracked Conch is a lightly battered island favorite. It is served with a special sauce that is amazing.  (right) Buffalo Shrimp is exactly like it sounds. The shrimp are lightly breaded and drowned in Frenchy’s own buffalo sauce. There are three flavors of sauce: Hot, Mildly-Hot, and Firecracker. (top right) Grouper Cheeks. You absolutely cannot go to Frenchy’s without trying Grouper. Frenchy’s Original Café is a small, quaint place featuring many of Frenchy’s original menu items, like the smoked fish spread, seafood gumbo, boiled shrimp and Greek salad…and where the now famous Super Grouper sandwich made its debut. Since its doors first opened in 1981, the quality, ambiance and charm have remained, making it a continual favorite among the locals.



We have had many fish tacos from around the Gulf Coast. We have two versions which are our favorites, both come from the same area. There must be something in the water around this place. Crabby Bill’s Clearwater Beach is one of them. Their version is blackened Mahi Mahi with shredded cabbage, and mango salsa (best part) topped with cheddar jack cheese and cliantro cream sauce.

Frenchys-Fire-Island-TacosRounding out this entry is, by far, the best Fish Tacos east of San Diego. Three flour tortillas filled with grilled shrimp or fish, tossed in their fire island sauce. cabbage, cilantro, jack cheese and parmesan peppercorn sauce. Frenchy’s newest restaurant is located just north of Clearwater Beach in Dunedin. Frenchy’s Outpost Bar & Grill.  Frenchy’s Outpost Bar & Grill is an open-air Key West Style restaurant situated near the causeway to beautiful Honeymoon Island in Dunedin.  This location is the newest in the Frenchy’s family, “the northernmost Frenchy’s” as they like to call it.