Established in 1926, Faustos Key West is the oldest running business in town. For over 90 years, Faustos has supplied food to the tables of Key West. Today, Faustos provides a great selection of foods, cheeses, beer, and wines not only to the locals but tourists alike. When you step into either of the locations, you will be treated as a trusted friend and given the best ideas and insight on the foods offered.
The staff is helpful and the selection of food is wonderful. Are you looking for a special dipping sauce or salsa, Faustos will probably have it. Even today, the store continues with its roots of offering the best specialty and organic foods available. The beer and wine selections are vast and the staff is ready to offer suggestions. The Fleming Street location is perfect. Within walking distance or a short bike ride, it is accessible to most of the Island.
Not in the mood to cook? Check out their daily prepared foods from the deli. Fresh made soups, salads, and other treats are there to tempt you. Plus, if you order ahead of time, they can cater your event and even deliver.
The store’s beginnings were humble. The first location opened in 1926 at Packer and Virginia Streets in a building that was small. How small? It originally had been a home. As the business grew, so did the location. The building was added onto it for 11 years; until there was no other way to increase the size of the building.
In 1936, Faustino Castillo moved his business to the bottom floor of a large house at 600 Fleming. This was a great location as it was downtown, near the business district. The location was large enough, and most importantly, had plenty of parking. According to an article printed in 1939, all came to Faustos for their food; especially specialty foods. In the late 1930’s Fausto was sent to Cuba for tropical fruits, special jellies, preserves, and marmalades. As well as to New York and other far away markets for cheeses and other delicacies.
Cigar Making to Grocery Store
Faustino Castillo came from Havana in 1910 to be a cigar maker. Born in Havana in November 1888, he attended private school and then was employed as a cigar maker. He married Ana Luisa Alvarez and they had one daughter, Ana Luisa.
Fausto initially split his shifts at the cigar factory and running the store with his wife. They kept the store open late on Saturdays until 9pm to serve the needs of their customers. They sold meat and cheeses in five cent increments as well. His longing for Cuban food and home helped him look for the best food items to stock the store’s shelves. He catered to the tastes of the Cuban immigrants.
Past customers include: President Harry S. Truman, Tennessee Williams, and Jimmy Buffett.
Their legacy, Ana
Their daughter, Ana, grew up in the store. She watched her father’s passion for new food items and today that passion continues. When the store moved to its new location, in 1936, Ana met her husband Carl Weekley. Then in 1949, the store moved to its current location on Fleming Street. A fire burned down the building in 1966, but a new store opened, at that location, in 1967.
Her mother passed away at an early age and left Fausto and her daughter, Ana, to run the store. Ana was immersed in the daily runnings of the store by the time she was 17 years old. She was a tough but kind woman. She fought code compliance issues and ensured those who owed the store money; paid.
During WWII, Car was shipped out and a pregnant Ana worked with local families who were financially hard hit. They forgave grocery bills and slipped in extra sugar rations for birthday celebrations.
Fausto died in 1948 and Ana, and her husband took over the business. She renamed the place Fautos Food Palace in honor of her father. Two of their sons, Alton and Jimmy carry on today with the family business. Jimmy actually met his wife, Susan while she worked at the grocery store. Jimmy was the Mayor of Key West and City Commissioner. Alton also served as City Commissioner as well as a member of the Chamber of Commerce and president of the Rotary Club. Carl passed away in 2002 and Ana in 2011. Each of their sons has continued on with their parent’s civic focus and heart.
The fifth generation of the family will begin working at the store… It certainly is a Key West Institution.
(credit: faustos.com, keysweekly.com)