North Fort Myers businesses struggle after Caloosahatchee Bridge closure

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz Writer: Elyssa Morataya
Published: Updated:

Local businesses are struggling to stay busy after the Caloosahatchee bridge shut down earlier this summer.

When Kaiz Premji started Cheers Wine and Liquor 8 months ago, He was excited.

“We put a lot of hard effort, time, sweat, and equity into this place with the hopes that it was actually going to provide some type of return,” said Kaiz Premji, Owner of Cheers Wine and Liquor.

But when the Caloosahatchee bridge shut down in May, he says everything went downhill.

“Everything that we expected was actually turning out to be, you know, promising since taking over this business,” said Premji. “As soon as the bridge closed, sales took a nosedive. They’re just avoiding coming here entirely.”

The loss of customers has taken its toll on the business.

“I had four employees; I had to let go of two,” said Premiji, “The other two, I have to balance their hours.”

Premji isn’t alone. He says almost every business near the end of the Caloosahatchee bridge is fighting the same battle.

Eric McComas of Tattoo Alchemy says he depends on a lot of the walk-ins he gets during the summer.

“We’re a tourist area,” said Mccomas, “That’s where we make a chunk of the money that we can make throughout the year to float us in any of those seasonal times where it slows down and that bridge being closed for the entire summer. That’s hard. It definitely is.”

There is light at the end of the tunnel, with the Florida Department of Transportation maintaining it.

FDOT will reopen the bridge on August 11. Premji says he hopes he can hold on until then.

“Right now, we’re just getting by,” said Premiji.

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