1983: Paul Menta arrives in Key West
For a young man with a deep love for history, inspired where he grew up in Philadelphia by the history of his hero Benjamin Franklin, The Conch Republic (aka Key West) was the perfect environment for him to grow and create. In the Conch Republic, inspired by legendary, bigger-than-life characters and living historical figures such as Dennis Wardlow, Mel Fisher, Captain Tony, Captain Finbar, and a great many others, Paul Menta flourished. These amazing Conch Republic residents and neighbors all shared a similar independent, live-and-let-live, and community-centered mindset to that of young Menta's own idol Ben Franklin.
Embracing the Conch Republic lifestyle, Paul decided to commit to his love for the ocean, settled in, took up cooking as a Chef, became a professional Kiteboarder, and eventually went on to open the now-renowned Key West First Legal Rum Distillery.
"I owe where I am at in my life to Ben Franklin and The Conch Republic!", Paul happily shares. His passion for both Key West Legal Rum and the Conch Republic led to him being named The Conch Republic ADminister of Rum as well as The Speaker of the House.
In these roles, Paul is given ample opportunity to serve the community he loves so profoundly. Giving back to the community, helping others, and supporting those are all priorities for all residents of The Conch Republic. To this end, Menta has helped raise money and resources to feed and house residents and neighbors through many hurricanes (including neighbors on the sister island of Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas). With "Key West Cares", he and Key West Legal Rum provided free sanitizer for the entire Florida Keys during the Covid-19 pandemic. "It's what we do in the Conch Republic," he says.
Visiting the Conch Republic, you can find Paul on the ocean on windy days, making rum when the wind is down, and always lending a hand to his fellow Conch Republic friends and family. For people anywhere in the world, a smile and a drink of rum can go a long way towards helping ease some ordinary problems.
As Paul happily reminds us, "We're all here 'cause we're not all there!" Read more here