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A sweet, relaxing place

Feel at home with homemade treats at Beach Brew and Bakery

February 24, 2016
By John Morton ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

While vacationing from Indiana on Fort Myers Beach, year after year the Gillmans couldn't help but daydream about starting a small business here someday.

"Twenty years later, we've pulled the trigger," said Gregg Gillman who, with wife, Kim, opened the Beach Brew and Bakery on Feb. 12. "We made it happen."

They even brought teenage sons Grant and Cameron on board to work with them, and now the all-family business is offering up treats, teas and java at their location at 2801 Estero Blvd. in the Sea Grape Plaza.

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Grant Gillman serves up a coffee to go.

The place feels like a home, complete with lounging areas, the family record player and a kitchen where everything is baked on site.

"The atmosphere is unique and we want people to feel comfortable," said Kim. "We've already had some repeat customers who has stayed a few hours and relaxed."

The free Wi-Fi is conducive for that, as are the stacks of classic LPs that are fair game for anyone who wants to plop a little James Taylor on the turntable and lower the needle.

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"Don't be shy," Kim said. "We want people to feel at home."

The place seats 20, and three picnic tables that serve the plaza are available for those who want to be outdoors.

The Gillmans may be new, but they were a known commodity before they opened their doors. Over the past few weeks, they've visited many locales to offer up samples of their baked items, including the delivery of 100 donuts on Jan. 20 at Beach Elementary School during its annual Golden Coconut (teacher of the year) award ceremony.

Fact Box

Who: Beach Brew and Bakery

What: Hot and cold coffees, imported Italian espresso, smoothies, loose-leaf teas, donuts, and bakery items.

Where: 2801 Estero Blvd., unit K (Sea Grape Plaza)

Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily

Grand opening special: Friday through Sunday, get free coffee or $2 off any specialty coffee with the purchase of a baked item.

Contact: call 233-8920 or visit

"Being parents, the schools are important to us," Kim said at the time. "We like to give back."

Beyond donuts, the Gillmans offer up hand-crafted pastries including cheesecake danishes and their signature Beach Bun.

"It's the result of taste-testing, over and over again, until we said, 'Wow, this is the bomb,'" Kim said.

Added Gregg, "We must have gone through six different types of rolls until we got it just right. Everything is our own concoction - nothing comes in frozen like you see at other places."

And despite feeling like mad scientists with their experiments, the couple is settling on a few items as their focus.

"People are giving us all kinds of recommendations, which we appreciate, but we think we've found what works," Gregg said.

It's their first business venture, but both Gregg and Kim have some background that helps.

"My family was in the restaurant business years ago, and I helped out, and Kim had a stint with Starbucks," Gregg said. "So we just brought the two together."

And now the challenge is to get noticed during a tricky time on the island for businesses, given the road construction.

"We are sunken back a bit in a plaza, but the good news is we have plenty of parking," Gregg said. "We know that means a lot around here."



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