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CAPE CORAL | Local restaurant a beacon of hope for rebuilding community

Posted at 11:42 PM, Sep 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-28 19:41:22-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — One year after Ian, the Boathouse Tiki Bar and Grill is a beacon of hope in an area still surrounded by destruction at the Cape Coral Yacht Basin.

The area is about six miles from the Gulf of Mexico up the Caloosahatchee. Even this far inland, more than seven feet of storm surge destroyed the public beach, the pier and nearly destroyed the Boathouse Tiki Bar and Grill.

Fox 4’s Certified Meteorologist Katie Walls met with General Manager, Jay Collins who said the employees' resiliency is what helped them recover.

“It’s a very strong group of people that work here in the first place. And to get a lot of them back and have that strength return after a nine month period in such devastation, I’m very proud of that, 100%.”

Collins walked Fox 4 through the restaurant’s long road to recovery, starting at the ground level.

“Everything as far as the refrigeration, the coolers, my ice makers and everything is actually underneath the deck. So because of that storm surge, everything that we put underneath… I mean it blew my walk-in into panels. The walk in cooler didn’t exist anymore,” Collins explained.

While surge washed away the stairs and everything underneath the building, 140 mph wind gusts collapsed both tikis onto the deck, but despite the massive loss, the structure itself remained intact. Even Ian couldn’t destroy the Cape Coral landmark that’s been around since the 50s!

Nine months and 12 days after the Category 4 hurricane hit, the Boathouse Tiki Bar and Grill reopened on July 10.

“To go through all that blood, sweat, tears, and pain to get everything done and get this one reopened, and see it back open an operational, then to see the community turn out in droves in the first two weeks to say ‘wow, you’re back and the place looks phenomenal, it felt good. It felt good,” expressed Collins.

Despite the excitement of the reopening, it’s hard to see still see the damage all around, including the beach that’s still fenced off and closed until further notice.

Fox 4 reached out to Cape Coral about the reopening of the Yacht Club Public Beach, and got the following statement:

“We are still waiting for a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. We have received the Department of Environmental Protection permit. Once we receive this permit, we will have a better idea of when the beach may reopen.”