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Setting sail for new adventures

Island ‘character’ heads north

July 11, 2012
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To celebrate his momentous move, Bonita Bill's (702 Fisherman's Wharf) will be hosting a "So Long, Kirby" party Sunday, July 15, beginning around 2 p.m., and going on into the early evening. The very next morning, he'll be driving up to his new home in Kansas.

The longtime Fort Myers Beach resident is proud to be opening his very own bar and grill, partnering with a good friend, Curt, in his new Kansas home, with plans to name it KC's Sports Bar.

"It's just time for a change, and this is an opportunity I can't pass up. I owned a bar with my dad back in Wisconsin, and it'll be nice to own one once again," Kirby said. "I'm really going to miss everybody down here, but I'll be back to visit, and I appreciate everything everyone's taught me. A big thank-you goes out to Bill Semmer and the Semmer family. I've made a lot of great friends down here, and I hope to see everybody on July 15th to send me off!"

Article Photos

Be sure to swing by Bonita Bill’s Sunday, July 15, from 2 and 6 p.m. to say “so long”?to Kirby Bowe, a 12-year bartender who’s opening his own bar and grill in El Dorado, Kan. Above, Kirby is pictured with fellow bartender, Shelli Merrill. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.

Twelve years ago, Kirby was sailing along the Gulf of Mexico from Pensacola with his good friend, Avner, and all coordinates were set for the Caribbean, when one of his sails ripped, and he had no choice but to anchor off of Fort Myers Beach until it could be repaired.

"It took us a week to get our sail fixed, and we thought the island was a really neat little area. So, we said if we could find a job before the sail was fixed, we'd move down. That day, I found a job with Bonita Bill's and stayed," Kirby said.

Once the well-loved bartender heads to Kansas, Kirby is very proud that he'll be much closer to his 2.5-year old daughter, Kaila, who lives in Toledo, Ohio.

"I'll be 12 hours closer to her, which is a really, really great thing," he said.

And his compassion for community support, a trait that was instilled in him during his 12-year run at Bonita Bill's with multiple fund-raisers and benefits, will continue on his journey in Kansas.

"We've done so many great things helping people out in the island community over the years, I want to be sure to continue doing that in my new home," Kirby said. "We're going to host benefits and fund-raisers regularly, and give our support to the local community however we can."

So, be sure to stop by Bonita Bill's Sunday, July 15, to "tell stories, tell lies, and drink beer." Two Hands will be performing that afternoon into the early evening, and there's plenty of great food and drink to enjoy.

Also, be sure to keep in touch with Kirby by regularly visiting the Bonita Bill's Facebook page. For more information, call the waterfront cafe, 463-6119, or find it on Facebook.



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