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Junkanoo to stay put for another year

April 27, 2016
By John Morton ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Fans of the Junkanoo, rejoice. The popular beachfront restaurant at 3040 Estero Blvd. will continue to operate through April of next year, according to property owner Joe Orlandini.

Steve Huss, a longtime customer who lives nearby on Jefferson Street and helped remodel the mid-island establishment about 14 years ago, was happy to hear the news.

"The longer the better," he said. "The place means a lot to a lot of people here, especially those of us who live in the middle. The Junkanoo is all there is. It's the last stop on the way home."

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Junkanoo on the Beach, 3040 Estero Blvd., will remain open through April of 2017.

Orlandini and his partner, Terry Persaud, purchased for $8 million in October of 2014 the 3.49 acres of land that is home to both the Junkanoo and the Fresh Catch Bistro. The Junkanoo is on a year-to-year lease, with it nearing its May 31 expiration date, while the Fresh Catch Bistro has a lease through 2020.

Their plan is to build eight single-family homes - four on each parcel - that are similar to the two homes they are currently constructing on the neighboring lot to the south. Those homes are inching toward completion.

However, with no bites on those two homes, Orlandini said he wanted to wait another year to get a better feel for the market while still collecting rent from the Junkanoo, which will help offset the interest on a loan. He said the Fresh Catch Bistro's rent doesn't bring in enough to cover it.

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"The drawings came in for the next houses and I just got stage fright," said Orlandini, who with Persaud made the decision Monday night. "I just wasn't sure what I can get for houses in the 3000 block while I have 5,000-square-feet houses for sale in the 7000 block that are over the $2.5 million mark. I want to see how those do first."

Asked if he is considering scrapping the idea of building single-family residences once the Junkanoo is torn down, potentially going commercial instead, Orlandini said it crossed his mind but the answer is no.

"We've kicked around a million ideas and we do have some reservations about the houses, but we decided to stick with the plan," he said.

Huss, a 38-year resident of the island who remembers when the business was called the Pelican, said he hoped the owners created a mini-version of the Junkanoo beneath the Fresh Catch Bistro, which operates on a second floor next door.

"When they knock it down, that's the way to go," he said. "That will make people happy."



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