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Hurricane-destroyed Fort Myers Beach restaurant signs inland lease

La Ola Surfside Restaurant will open in more than 4,000 square feet at Bell Tower in Fort Myers.


  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 5:30 p.m. February 6, 2023
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
La Ola Surfside Restaurant before Hurricane Ian struck last year.
La Ola Surfside Restaurant before Hurricane Ian struck last year.
Courtesy photo
  • Charlotte–Lee–Collier
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The popular Fort Myers Beach eatery La Ola Surfside Restaurant is moving inland.

The restaurant has signed a seven-year lease to open a new 4,136-square-foot location at the Bell Tower shops in Fort Myers after its previous beach location at Times Square was destroyed during Hurricane Ian.

La Ola is scheduled to open late March with the same menu it had at its beach location at the pedestrian mall and entertainment district. It will also have live music in the afternoons and evenings.

Tom Houghton, La Ola’s owner, will make some minor renovations before opening, including adding a dance floor, small stage and awning over the 1,843-square-foot patio space.

Bell Tower, an open-air shopping center on Cleveland Avenue, in Fort Myers.
Courtesy photo

But Houghton is not giving up on the beach.

He is in the process of building a temporary beach bar on the previous site using two shipping containers. The containers will serve drinks and he will continue to serve food from a food truck.

“Opening a second location in Fort Myers was a direct result of the storm,” Houghton says in the statement. “I realized how vulnerable we are on the beach. Bell Tower will provide a safer home base while the island gets rebuilt, and we await a hopeful future location back on the beach.”

Bell Tower is an open-air shopping center on Cleveland Avenue in the city. The center’s owners just finished a major renovation of the property which included adding new gathering areas and landscaping.

Dannielle Robinson, the senior vice president for retail services for Colliers, which announced the lease, says in the statement that a lot of Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel businesses are looking for space inland after Hurricane Ian.

"Many of these businesses have been on the islands for years and are now considering a new location to stay in business,” she says.

According to Colliers, several other Fort Myers Beach shops have also signed leases at Bell Tower Shops, including Synergy Sportswear, Bubbly Latitude, Adventure in Paradise, Macintosh Books and Paper, Butterfly Beach, Sanibel Candle Co., and Congress Jewelers.

 

author

Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the commercial real estate editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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