Antoine, a wood-sculpted maître-d, welcomes patrons and guests onto the new outdoor deck at Surf Club on Fort Myers Beach. Antoine began as a practical joke by some friends of Surf Club owner Bruce Cermak who took the armless statue and placed it outside his restaurant more than a year ago. Cermak had the last laugh when he had a local sculptor affix arms and a surfboard serving tray and made Antoine a mascot for Surf Club.
The new outdoor eating space was completed in late February and adds 32-35 more seats with views of the canal to the rear. It will serve as the host site to a ribbon-cutting celebration tomorrow at 2 p.m. Mayor Larry Kiker plans to ceremonially cut the ribbon on the 1,000-square-foot addition to the popular island eatery.
Cermak began the permitting and planning process almost two years ago, withdrawing his application once from the Local Planning Agency before resubmitting it and gaining approval for the addition. The spacious outdoor deck consists of a traditional wooden deck built above what used to be a dry retention area between the parking lot and the bright blue building and concrete pavers which replaced some of the old blue and yellow bricks.
Trees were preserved to provide a cool, shade canopy and landscaping was added for aesthetics.
The next step is to plan, permit and build a five foot boat dock below the seawall on the canal behind the Surf Club. In addition, Cermak would like to build two piers to provide access to boaters. The manmade canal widens to 100-feet just behind the restaurant and provides a great view of the Matanzas Pass Bridge. Every local who has waited in traffic to cross over that bridge can relate to the feeling of relief Cermak experiences every time he reaches the top and scans the idyllic view of our beach community along the sparkling green-blue waters of the Gulf.
“What people don't see are all the generous people and great organizations that make up this community,” Cermak said. “This island really has that small community feel and it's because of the sum of its parts.”
He should know. He's called Fort Myers Beach home for 24 years and has invested much in this island community. Most of those years he's spent in the restaurant and bar business, which he learned from family at age 21 while living in Chicago. In addition to the restaurant and bar at 1167 Estero Boulevard, Cermak runs an off-premises catering service and the favorite fare is the fresh, local shrimp he buys from a Fort Myers Beach fisherman.
The restaurant boasts a menu composed of more than 75% homemade recipes, including the popular meatloaf and mashed potatoes, served Wednesdays, and the award-winning Cuban sandwich, on the daily menu. Cermak is also proud of their unique Rabbit and Andouille Sausage Stew, made with fresh ingredients he ships in from North Carolina and Louisiana.
Cermak was a founding member of the Times Square Alliance, a group of merchants aimed at growing business in the Times Square and north end district, what Cermak refers to as “Main Street Fort Myers Beach.” He said he'd like to see that part of our island become more pedestrian friendly with wider walkways and better lighting. He says that businesses are doing their part to spruce up the area. They've begun hosting the Sunset Celebrations with live entertainment in Time Square every Friday and Saturday night, which he believes is creating more foot traffic to those businesses.
The Surf Club ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday will feature complimentary hors d'oeuvres, as well as food and drink specials. The public is welcome to come anytime in the afternoon and enjoy the shade and ambience of the new deck and maybe a cocktail or two.
Cermak complimented local contractor Gene Whitley on the fine construction of the wooden deck and the placement of the pavers. He hopes that those who cannot make the Saturday celebration will join them for Sunday breakfast, served 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., or for Wednesday dinner, featuring homemade meatloaf and the music of Habitat for Harmony.
For more information on Surf Club or to view their menu and hours of operation, please visit www.surfclubfmb.com. Chris Doyle