Longtime Cape business may close due to city restrictions

Photographer: Adam Wright
Published: Updated:

CAPE CORAL, Fla. – DeBono’s Stop and Go convenience store on Santa Barbara Boulevard has been in business for more than 30¬†years. Owner Chuck DeBono says since 2000, renting out U-Haul trucks and trailers has been keeping him afloat.

“We make more than the majority of our money off U-Haul,” DeBono told WINK News Tuesday.

From the start, the store has only been permitted to rent out four trucks and five trailers, but right now there’s a lot more than that on site. DeBono says he’s aware it’s more than he’s technically allowed.

“We’ve been operating that way for a long time,” he said.

He¬†says it’s never been an issue, until recently. The store’s been cited by code enforcement.

DeBono says his store can’t survive on just nine units, and he’s asking for an amendment to allow more, but city staff are¬†recommending denial.

“The site has a lot of constraints, physical constraints or limitations… there is very little room to put any vehicles let alone additional vehicles,” said Mike Struve with the City of Cape Coral Planning Division.

DeBono wants to park the vehicles in a¬†vacant lot behind his store, but Struve¬†says it would have to be paved and landscaped, something¬†DeBono says he can’t afford.

DeBono is still trying to work out a deal with the city, and was granted a 60-day extension, but says if all else fails, he and his brother will likely have to close the store they first opened in 1984.

“That would mean it’s the last thing keeping me in Cape Coral… I¬†don’t want to leave the city but if the city took this away from us I guess I don’t have any other choice,” said DeBono.


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