What began as a love story between a WWII soldier and the girl next door grew into the American dream and continued as a family legacy.
It’s a multi-generational story set at the forefront of the local commercial fishing community. This legacy of Key Largo Fisheries is now secured to continue under new ownership.
For the past half-century, the Hill family built and expanded Key Largo Fisheries on every level, from buying, processing, and selling internationally to opening a market and cafe locally. Jack and Dottie Hill will always be remembered as pioneers and advocates in the Keys fishing community.
Their sons, Tom and Rick Hill, have been at the helm for two decades, embodying the same community-minded principles as their parents.
As Tom and Rick approached retirement, they fielded many offers from potential buyers but none lived up to the legacy their father had created. If the brothers were ever to sell, it would only be to someone who would preserve the Hill family legacy and the Keys fishing culture.
It wasn’t until not one but two pairs of brothers approached them. Bob and Felix Charney partnered with long-time associates and brothers-in-law Marc Anderson and Eli Hawli to offer the Hill family a way to retire while still preserving their family legacy.
The pairs of brothers form the perfect business team, with one pair specializing in fishing and the other in restauranteering. More so, they form a like-minded team that shares the Hill family philosophy of community.
The Charney brothers grew up in a fishing community much like the Keys (though much colder) in Connecticut. Like the Hills, they fished as children and then commercially fished and lobstered in high school and thereafter.
They eventually started operating marinas, which brought them to the Keys when they acquired Mangrove Marina in 2009. A third brother, Chris, continues to operate the local marina and their charter boat Provider out of Bud & Mary’s. For the last decade, the Charneys admired Key Largo Fisheries for all it’s accomplished and done for the community.
When word spread that the Hill brothers were ready to retire, Bob and Felix reached out to Marc and Eli. They knew that if they were to do the Hill family legacy justice, they would need to match their fishing background with Marc and Eli’s extensive restaurant experience.
Marc and Eli have more than a dozen restaurants in Connecticut and have held long-lasting relationships with local fish and lobster suppliers. They understand and have a deep respect for the fishing industry. Contrary to people’s fears, the team of brothers has no intention of developing the property but only continuing the Hill legacy. They share the same goal of preserving the working fishery and fishing culture.
“Too many working fisheries are disappearing all along the Atlantic,” Bob Charney laments. “We jumped at the opportunity to take over Key Largo Fisheries so we could preserve it not only as a business hub for the fishing industry but also as a Keys landmark.”
After a year of careful discussions, the Hill brothers sold Key Largo Fisheries to the new team of brothers. The Hills stayed on for 6 months to ensure a smooth transition for everyone involved.
The new owners have since opened a second location for the fish market and cafe. Key Largo Fisheries Tavernier is located in the former Chad’s Deli, and you can buy fresh fish, prepared meals, or stop in for lunch and dinner. They plan to open more locations, expanding on the Hill legacy and creating more local business.
“Key Largo Fisheries is a 50-year-old working waterfront that we plan to work for another 50 years. It’s a treasure worth preserving just as much as the fishing culture is worth saving.”
–Jerrica Mah is a writer, Army wife, and freelance book editor, who loves to travel with her family.