First place to reopen on Fort Myers Beach after Ian

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Bayfront Bistro is the first to reopen on Fort Myers Beach since Hurricane Ian washed away homes and decimated businesses.

One of the perks of being the only business open in the area, you get all the customers to yourself.

Even if the menu is a little bit smaller, for the time being, customers explained the food is just as good and the drinks are just right.

Bob Rommell is the co-owner of Bayfront Bistro, which saw extensive damage by Hurricane Ian.

“You can see that water line right here. That’s how high Ian was, just about nine feet,” Rommel said.

The waterline Hurricane Ian left behind. CREDIT: WINK News

“When we got to the building, you know, there was debris on the parking lot, up to the ceiling, everything was destroyed,” Rommel said. “And honestly, we didn’t know if we’d ever really opened again.”

One piece at a time Rommel brought the building back to form after the storm left its mark.

“We got the debris cleaned up, we have it repainted we have new equipment. If you look past the garbage on the water, you see water and you see sunshine,” Rommel said.

Jim and Kathie Machock are from Indiana and love Fort Myers Beach because of the water, sunshine, and peaceful atmosphere. They’ve had a home and a boat in the area for a long time. But, after they got to see the damage firsthand, the pain became less abstract and more tangible.

“Our grandson even said, ‘we’ve got so many memories there’. This is gone, that’s gone, the whale, all the other places,” Jim and Kathie said. “So you know just too many things. But it’ll be back!”

While bouncing back can feel like an uphill battle or swimming against the current, Rommel knows those challenges all too well and will face them head-on.

“If you’re one of our vendors to come here for one delivery, it’s difficult to boil water and so we had to buy ice from a vendor again delivering it on an island where there’s traffic is difficult,” Rommel said.

The Bayfront Bistro is open from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. but on Sunday, the restaurant will hold a grand re-opening.

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