Meet Jimmy Weekley, former mayor of Key West and owner of Fausto’s Food Palace, the oldest independently-owned business on the island. Fausto’s was founded by Jimmy’s grandfather, Faustino Castillo, in 1926, just 16 years after he first arrived in Key West by way of Havana, Cuba. Now in it’s third-generation of family ownership, Fausto’s has two Key West locations – on Fleming St. and White St. – and a loyal base of customers who value quality and customer service above all else. Fausto’s began sourcing seafood from Three Hands Fish six months ago and we’re proud to partner with a business that places as high a premium on product quality as we do!
THF: What makes Fausto’s different from the other grocery stores on the island?
Jimmy: For starters, we’re the only independent grocery store on the island. All the rest, at this point, are box grocery store chains with locations across the country. We have two locations, both of which are in Key West, only miles apart from one another. Our small scale has allowed us to focus on that which means the most to us: quality and customer service. We take tremendous pride in each, and are confident that they’re the key differentiators that have provided us with over 90 years of sustained success.
THF: You began working at Fausto’s when you were 10-years-old. What’s your favorite childhood memory of working in the store?
Jimmy: There really are so many of them. I vividly remember the times I spent with my brothers bagging onions and potatoes, and working the cash register. At the time, I don’t recall loving this work but it’s where I was first taught the value of hard work and the importance of customer service. In that respect, those early memories are quite cherished because I have an understanding of how much they shaped my development and future self.
Additionally, and I’d get in trouble if I didn’t mention this, but I actually met my future wife while working at Fausto’s! Originally from New York, she was down in Key West for vacation. When she realized she needed some money to assist in her travels back north, she took up a job at Fausto’s – and the rest is history. While this isn’t a childhood memory, per say, it’s certainly one I’ll never forget!
THF: Why did you begin sourcing from Three Hands Fish and what’s been the reaction of your customers to our fish?
Frankly, I’ve had issues sourcing local seafood for quite some time now. Our previous provider, also a Key West market, wasn’t meeting our standards. The quality was mediocre and inconsistent, and it was actually hurting our business. I was lamenting to a friend about this issue, who’s the owner of two prominent Key West restaurants, and he recommended that I check out newcomer Three Hands Fish. I did, I loved their story, their mission, and the quality of their product. I loved that they promoted freshness and quality just as much as we do, which I didn’t think was possible!
And my customers have actually responded to Three Hands Fish. They too have noticed a difference in the quality and the freshness of our offering, and our seafood sales have increased as a result. Working with Three Hands Fish has been great for our business and for our community as a whole. Key West is a small island and it’s important for local, independent businesses to support one another!