A Fort Myers Beach favorite is celebrating a major milestone in Hurricane Ian recovery. Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille is now open for the first time since the storm.
The Monday reopening makes for a huge morale boost for the island.
It took a lot of teamwork over these last 10 months to re-open the restaurant, which first opened in 2009 and has developed into a community favorite.
Doc Ford’s partner Joe Harrity said he is grateful for the staff that continued working and was flexible taking on roles they don’t normally do but knew needed to get done.
In their collective effort to help re-open the restaurant, the employees rolled up their sleeves and took on the roles of being carpenters, plumbers and minor electricians.
Doc Ford’s now has a fresh paint job, all new bar tops and is now fully restored to its former glory.
Longtime visitor Jeena Anness said she calls Doc Ford’s her second home — so the grand reopening was emotional.
“I have to be honest with you, I mean I got a little teared up because, you know, after all of these months and just seeing everything and still seeing the devastation that’s on the island, I mean to see something like this and just being so excited and have the community come together, I mean, it’s just so awesome and exciting,” she said. “We’re happy to be a part of it.”
“We sell experiences,” said Harrity. “It’s about the experience you have when you come into our restaurant and what we can do to make that experience something that you’ll always remember.”
Harrity also owns the Doc Ford’s on Sanibel Beach and the Dixie Fish and Company. This location is the last business he still needed to get back open.
While it’s a huge weight off his shoulders he knows there is still so much more that needs to be done.
“We can’t be more excited to be able to move our name over to the list of places that are back open. We’re ready, and I think the beach is ready. People are ready to have yet another place to go to and hang out and get that sense of normalcy back,” Harrity said.