Inside look: $2.4 million to repair The Edison restaurant

Reporter: Amy Galo
Published: Updated:

When a place has been around as long as The Edison, you want it to stick around.

“It’s a place where a lot of folks grew up on, played on,” said Kevin King, general manager of The Edison restaurant and bar. “If they decided to do a different direction, they would be eliminating a large part of the upbringing of a lot of people.”

So, in June the city decided it was going to spend $2.4 million dollars to fix it up. But what is that high price tag for?

“I knew that the building had some age and structural issues,” said King. “I didn’t know to what extent. I think that’s where a lot of the frustration has layed with the community and myself is identifying exactly what it is. Now that we know what it is, we need to fix it.”

Turns out, while the historic building looks beautiful on the outside, what’s underneath is not.

“When the building was put up, they put the concrete slabs down for the flooring and then built on top of those,” said Peter Bieniek, Director of Public Works for Fort Myers. “What’s happened is the structural integrity of the slabs have given way.”

WINK News reporter Amy Galo got to see the situation underneath The Edison first-hand: holes, rust and broken metal wiring in at least a dozen concrete slabs.

“Concrete absorbs water, as it absorbs water, that metal will rust and when metal rusts, it expands,” said Bieniek. “Then it causes the concrete to crack.”

The city’s main concern, therefore, is safety.

“Our biggest concern is that if you have a large party or a large group, eventually it’s gonna be a problem,” said Bieniek. “So we want to get to it before it becomes that major issue.”

A temporary fix is already in place at the popular restaurant.

“They’ve got the four by four (planks) along with iron rods, keeping it (the concrete slab) attached to the floor. It just strengthens and supports it for now, and you can’t keep it that way forever,” explained Bieniek.

The permanent fix is much more complicated and expensive.

“You’d have to picture pulling out these concrete slabs along with everything else that goes with it,” said Bieniek. “There’s putting the tents up, rerouting all the electric for the carts, pouring these (new slabs) in place, replacing the floors. Once they’ve taken it out, replacing some sub walls or the walls that have had to be moved.”

After that, general manager Kevin King is planning a revamp and footing that bill on his own.

“We are all going to get what we wanted,” said King. “A renovated historic building, on a historic golf course on a historic road, and we’re going to do what’s great for everybody.”

He plans to match the interior to the exterior of this iconic 1990s building, maintaining the rustic, Old Florida look and feel.

“It’s close to a million dollars worth of renovations,” said King. “It’s something that has to be done the right way to have the right concept to fit every color, shape and size of this place.”

The Edison restaurant will close its doors on Thursday, June 11, but the delicious food and drinks are not going anywhere.

“I am going to do is something really unique,” said King. “The city and I have agreed we’re going to do an outside tent that will be fully air-conditioned and powered with the ability to eat, drink, grill food and still have the locals come say ‘hi,’ and watch the renovations happen.”

The structural project aims to be completed by early January.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.