FORT MYERS, Fla. — Tuesday, marked the sixth month mark since Hurricane and while many parts of Southwest Florida such as the beaches are still trying to rebound and recover, one part of Lee County has been seeing an influx of business since the storm.
When speaking with Nils Richter, co-owner of The Firestone Skybar & Martini Bar, Social House, Capone's Coal Fired Pizza, and Cabos Cantina Taco & Tequila Bar downtown Fort Myers he said the Skybar was the last to reopen and business has been non-stop for all of his establishments.
Something City Tavern is noticing as well.
“Downtown has become more popular since the hurricane because the beaches are closed," said Hannah Dieren, bartender.
Dieren said despite the setback, her bar is back open and better than ever, and customers are flocking to learn more about what the bar endured during the storm.
“A lot of people are curious about it, and a lot of people are happy about the story happy and the outcome. Like ‘oh you guys were destroyed this whole place was gutted now you are back and you’re running'," Dieren said.
It's been nearly 6-months since Fox 4's Briana Brownlee walked downtown with Fort Myers' Mayor Kevin Anderson looking at the aftermath of Ian. At that time Mayor Anderson said he looked at the piles of debris that crowded downtown as a sign of recovery.
Now when walking downtown, he is pleased with the growth.
“I am just impressed, amazed, and very happy with the recovery," Mayor Anderson said. "Our business tax receipts since the hurricane have been through the ceiling.”
It's no secret that tourism is vital to the sunshine state.
According to the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau, Hurricane Ian has had significant impacts on our tourism season. The bureau reports $66.5 million in tourist tax revenue last fiscal year, from October 2021 to September 2022.
Between October through December 2022, the county only brought in $2.1 million, and officials are estimating a loss of 40-60% in this fiscal year.
However, Mayor Anderson tells said downtown has been vibrant and active.
“It’s because people are limited throughout the county where they can go," Mayor Anderson said.
"I don’t want it to take away from everyone else, but it is nice to have all of these people come down here and see what we are about," Dieren said.
Mayor Anderson also spoke about the Fort Myers Yacht Basin. He said the lease is signed and $30 million will be invested adding it will be a gem and a key attraction of downtown.