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Business Observer Friday, Sep. 6, 2019 3 years ago

Restauranteurs pick out-of-the-way spot to build eatery featuring massive tiki huts

Kearns Restaurant Group knew their latest concept was a hit, so they built a second one. This one's in west Fort Myers.
by: Jay Schlichter Lee-Collier Editor

Not long after the owners and principals behind Kearns Restaurant Group built the first Boathouse Tiki Bar & Grill in Cape Coral, they knew their latest concept — in a string of multiple new dining establishment ideas — was a hit.

Boathouse Tiki Bar & Grill in Fort Myers. Photo by Stefania Pifferi.

That’s why the restaurateurs decided to build a second spot. But this time, they chose to build it at an even greater scale.

They picked a long strip of land directly off the Caloosahatchee River on State Road 31, a stone’s throw from Fort Myers Shores but a long ways from any other major development. The restaurant, the last piece built on the property, is a 12,000-square-foot eatery underneath two massive tiki huts that took roughly 50,000 palm fronds to construct. The open-air restaurant and bar includes a man-made beach area, a boat dock, a swimming pool and the nearby marina.

“When you look at this area, a customer wants to have their feet in the sand,” says Nils Richter, the CFO for the Kearns Restaurant Group. 

Boathouse Tiki Bar & Grill in Fort Myers. Photo by Stefania Pifferi.

The Boathouse concept is one of many recent Southwest Florida restaurants designed and built by the group; others include Ford’s Garage, The Lodge, Capone’s Coal Fired Pizza and Izzy’s. Richter says the company is continuing to look at other proposals and hopes to grow the business.

For the Boathouse on S.R. 31, the Kearns group hired a local firm with decades of experience in building restaurants and marinas, Fowler Construction and Development.

That company’s director of construction, Robert Fowler Jr., says that the project was tricky. One reason why? They had to figure out the best way to install and secure the large tiki huts on top of a concrete building that held the kitchen. They succeeded. “We were able to blend the tiki world with the commercial construction world,” Fowler says.


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