Cabbage Key inn, restaurant restores docks, returns to business - Gulfshore Business

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Cabbage Key, an inn, edifice and fashionable eating spot for tourists and Southwest Florida boaters that has grown since 1936, spent a mates of hours wrong the oculus of Hurricane Ian connected Sept. 28, lone to flight comparatively unscathed.

Other than the canopy of trees getting chopped by the storm’s winds and the marina with 90 slips for the visiting boats getting half-ruined, things were looking bully for the brothers who co-own the business, Rob Wells III and Ken Wells.

They oversee 7 cottages, an inn with six rooms and the restaurant, wherever the paper features the “Cabbage Key Famous Cheeseburger” and wherever “Cheeseburger successful Paradise” vocalist Jimmy Buffet erstwhile roamed during the precocious 1970s and aboriginal 1980s.

“It’s a comparative term, however overmuch harm we had,” Rob Wells III said. “Comparatively speaking to our partners successful Lee County, we consciousness precise fortunate. However, the immense bulk of our marina was destroyed. All the buildings had immoderate benignant of damage, whether it beryllium extortion harm oregon siding damage. You can’t conscionable haul disconnected debris determination similar you tin connected the mainland.

We were fortunate to person reasonably ample crews retired there.”

Cabbage Key unopen down astatine 1:30 p.m. Monday, Sept 26, arsenic the tempest approached. It reopened Thursday, Oct. 13, for astir 4 hours a day, moving connected generator powerfulness for 8 days.
Power was restored to the land astatine 5 p.m., Oct. 20.
Wells said the biggest contiguous focus, different than clearing the debris, was restoring the dock, a task that is astir finished.

“We were capable to get a dock builder retired there,” said Wells, a Fort Myers resident. His parents inactive unrecorded connected the island, on with astir 15 of the inn’s workers. “That was 1 of the astir important things to us. We request to person docks. That’s similar having a parking batch for a edifice successful Fort Myers. It’s essential.

“I deliberation we’re going to decorativeness the main dock and the marina this week. That volition beryllium truly beneficial to getting these boats back. We inactive request to tally powerfulness to the main dock. Then, it’s called punch database items. Siding here, a model there. That benignant of stuff. We’ve turned the corner.”

Wells, 49, grew up connected Cabbage Key. His parents moved determination from North Carolina erstwhile helium was three, successful 1976.

“Jimmy Buffet’s sister lived connected Boca Grande,” Wells said. “This was backmost successful the precocious ’70s, aboriginal ‘80s. So Jimmy Buffet would sojourn his sister. Then he’d beryllium cruising astir the area. He liked to travel into Cabbage Key. He’d travel successful and person luncheon oregon a drink. I ne'er retrieve Jimmy singing there.

“My begetter mightiness retrieve that more. But I bash retrieve him coming successful connected a seaplane. And of course, anybody arriving by seaplane was of involvement to a 10 oregon 11-year-old boy.”

Hurricane Ian efficaciously unopen down Cabbage Key for a mates of weeks aft the storm, not due to the fact that of the harm there, but due to the fact that of the harm elsewhere, said Scott Lipson, the restaurant’s nutrient and beverage manager.

So galore different destroyed docks and boats prevented the accustomed crowds from visiting.

“We are astatine 100% now,” Lipson said of the edifice and inn. “We are seeing our guests turn each week, dilatory but surely. On New Year’s Eve, we were astatine 100% occupancy.”

Most of the guests get from Captiva Cruises, which conscionable returned to business, a h2o taxi from the Pineland Marina connected Pine Island, oregon autarkic boaters.

On a caller Wednesday, lunch-time looked adjacent normal, arsenic radical began filling the barroom that has thousands of dollar bills stapled oregon pinned to the wood-frame walls. They were eating the “famous” cheeseburger and drinking the “Cabbage Creeper,” a house-made concoction of metallic rum, crème de coconut and pineapple foodstuff implicit crystal with a java liqueur floater and a cherry.

With galore of the coastal “Old-Florida” bars destroyed by the hurricane, Lipson said helium was thankful his workplace was mostly spared, truthful the “Old-Florida charm” volition proceed there.

“We are known for our dollar measure bar,” Lipson said. “And betwixt the barroom and our backmost porch, we person adjacent to $90,000 hanging connected the walls. All enactment determination from our guests. When wealth falls, we cod it. I contiguous it to the household astatine the extremity of each year. It comes retired to astir $10,000. It’s donated to children’s and acquisition charities.

“The 1 directive from the household to america was, let’s get Cabbage Key up and running. Because it’s important to the assemblage arsenic a awesome of anticipation to get Cabbage Key up and running.

It’s been successful the aforesaid household present for 47 years, and it’s successful its 2nd generation.”

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