Deadline Miami

Fight over bar stool involves Key West commissioner

Rick’s Bar on Duval Street in Key West.
Rick’s Bar on Duval Street in Key West. Miami Herald File / 2008

A New Jersey tourist called dibs on the wrong bar stool.

The man, who said he asked a woman if he could take the empty seat next to her so an elderly man in his group could rest, ended up on the floor of Rick’s Bar, held down by a staff member and the manager of the city’s contracted garbage company. The men were defending the establishment’s owner, Mark Rossi, also a Key West city commissioner, who said the tourist had no right to take the stool.

“He has no idea who he is dealing with,” Commissioner Mark Rossi told police, who responded to the scuffle at the Duval Street bar around 9 Friday night.

According to police reports, Devin Curtis Markowitz, 47, who runs a tree service company in New Jersey, was seeking an open bar stool for a 75-year-old man in his group. He told Key West police that he asked a woman sitting next to an empty stool if he could take the seat. Markowitz said the woman said yes.

“He said as he began to lift the chair, a large guy with gray hair started to shove him and yell at him,” Officer Michael Andruzzi said in his report. The woman turned out to be Rossi’s wife.

Markowitz shoved the gray-haired man, Rossi, back before being held down by a Rick’s employee and Sullivan, who manages Waste Management in the Florida Keys.

Detective Kevin O’Connell said in his report that Greg Sullivan, 47, was holding Markowitz’s foot and “appeared to be twisting Markowitz’s toe.”

Andruzzi stated in his report that Rossi told him there “was no way anyone was going to take his wife’s stool,” a declaration he repeated to The Keynoter Tuesday.

“You can’t take my wife’s chair,” Rossi said.

Rossi, 54, also said Tuesday that Markowitz “took at swing” at him. As for Sullivan, “he was just there,” Rossi said.

Markowitz also said Tuesday that the scuffle “had to do with a big misunderstanding.”

“I hold no grievance,” Markowitz said.

All parties chose not to press charges, but Markowitz received a trespass warning from police. Rossi owns Rick’s Bar as part of an entertainment complex that includes the Red Garter Saloon strip club.