Over 20 years ago, Kermit Carpenter began selling smoothies from a small stand in front of Papa’s Restaurant in Key West during his tenure as Papa’s bookkeeper. When the head chef suddenly drove off into the proverbial sunset one night, Kermit was left looking for a new adventure. Having been brainstorming with his sister Anita and her husband John, they decided that whatever they decided to do, it needed to be high quality and say “Key West”… gourmet food and Key Lime fit the bill, and so began Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe.
When the shoppe first opened on the corner of Elizabeth and Greene, the price was right, but the location was right across from a sewage pumping station. The good news was that it was also right on the bight – a Key West waterfront area. The City of Key West had great plans for the area. Kermit, Anita, and John all agreed, if we could survive the next few years, the site would be a premier location.
Before the shoppe opened for business, Kermit and Anita drove to Maryland to visit their parents. During the long drive, they made a list of everything they could think of that could contain Key Lime. This list would provide the blueprint for the gradual expansion of Kermit’s Key Lime product line.
Fast-forward to 2003, and Kermit’s was bursting at the seams. John came onboard as Managing Director after his military career, and due to the economies of shipping to our expanding internet customer base and lower manufacturing costs our DeLand production facility and showroom were born. The DeLand location contains a shoppe, warehouse and production kitchen in 10,000 square feet of space. Best of all, in DeLand we have a superb group of folks who make the business run. For the past couple of years, we have been able to invest in a small core of truly wonderful people. They are now the mainstay of Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe. From the DeLand location, we not only support our own shoppes, but also ship our website orders and support our wholesale customers.
In 2011, the opportunity arose to stake our claim on Duval Street, allowing even more Key West visitors the opportunity to enjoy our delicious Key Lime goodness! With 2 locations in Key West, you’re never very far from a slice of key lime pie on a stick, dipped in Belgian chocolate!
Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe is a disabled-veteran owned small business. Where possible, throughout the year we support local organizations in the areas where we have shoppes.
There are three organizations that we place special emphasis on supporting. We think you will agree that these organizations are truly special and thank you for supporting them by shopping at Kermit’s.
The Monroe Association for Remarkable Citizens (MARC) is a non-profit agency that serves adult clients within Monroe County who have developmental disabilities. Key West is located in Monroe County, Florida.
Kermit has supported MARC -- whose facilities and services are collectively referred to as Marchouse -- in Key West since our founding. The organization does wonderful work for their clients. Some of their services include keeping the area in the vicinity of our shoppe neat and clean. Tourists in Key West have a tendency to tip for even routine service. We pay good wages and wanted our customer service to be the best, with no tip anticipated or expected. When employees compete for tips, the habit of tipping frequently works against the effective working of the business. We wanted our staff to be concerned with what needed to be accomplished and not with what would get them a tip. 90% of the tips collected in our Key West tip jars go to MARC, with the remaining 10% being used for an occasional staff lunch or dinner. This has given our staff the opportunity to donate thousands of dollars to a great cause.
The ARC Volusia serves and advocates for persons with mental disabilities in Volusia County, Florida. They run a training center in DeLand, just a few buildings away from our Key Lime production facility. The ARC specializes in assembly; sorting and packing; repetitive tasks; bulk mailing; multi-step assembly; ongoing jobs; on time orders; and rush jobs. They also perform pick-up, delivery, and the shipping of products.
The boxes Kermit’s uses to ship Internet orders are all hand stamped in green ink with the label, “Key Lime Care Package.” The workers in the DeLand Training Center pick up the boxes, stamp them on each side, and deliver the boxes back to our warehouse. They also are the busy hands that are responsible for affixing the labels to each bag that eventually hold our delicious Pie Bars… of which we need several thousand of every week.