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END OF AN ERA: Decades old bar, LJ’s Lounge, to close it’s doors for the last time

A staple local gathering spot in Fort Myers Shores to say goodbye amid growing rural development
Posted at 7:41 PM, Feb 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-05 17:02:12-05

FORT MYERS SHORES, Fla. — LJ’s Lounge, a decades old bar nestled right over the Wilson Pigett Bridge on SR31, is closing its doors for the last time on Sunday.

A regular at the bar reflected on the closure, stating, "Just kinda gonna miss it - thought it was really fun."

Linda Flaitz, the owner of LJ's Bar and Lounge, has been at the helm for 33 years. In that time, she say’s its become quite the gathering point for people near and far. “Everybody that comes in - we start crying laughs - it's hard," Flaitz shared, her voice tinged with emotion.

But now, Flaitz said she sold the building to a developer, Neal Communities, as part of a project to widen State Road 31 to make way for a new neighborhood. “They bought the property and the building, but we can sell everything else - equipment and stuff like that - so, we're happy it worked out good," Flaitz remarked.

After so many years in business and now in her 80’s, Flaitz says she was getting ready to retire which made the decision a little easier. For the past few months, Fox 4 has been reporting on the developer, Neal Communities, and their plans for new neighborhoods in the area. In Alva, they have an 1,100 home project in the works. Flaitz says she believes all of the development of rural Florida can come with its costs.

"I hate to see all these places go - it's a shame. Everything's big, high-class, fancy now - none of the old local stuff," Flaitz lamented.

But, with this chapter ending, Flaitz says she’s nothing but grateful for the time she’s had at LJ’s and for the community that has supported it. In celebration of its legacy, she says LJ's is hosting a going-away party on Sunday, complete with live music, and invites everyone to come out.

"I appreciate all my customers - they've been loyal. It's been very good. Don't get me crying now!" Flaitz said, her voice breaking into laughter through tears.