The Hut restaurant, one of the most unusual and beautiful places to dine in all of Lee County is ready for the holidays and restaurant personnel are looking forward to their regular visitors and others who have not been there to dine yet. The Hut's new name has officially become The Hut at the Peace Tropical Gardens.
New Year's Eve dinner and a celebration to usher in the New Year is on the schedule and The Hut in Buckingham, just outside Lehigh Acres, is taking reservations now by phone at 239-225-0907.
With its several dining rooms all open for the holidays, diners can be seated in either of them unless there is a private party.
Tommy Lee Cook
On New Year's Eve, beginning at 9 p.m., visitors can enjoy dancing, live music, champagne and party favors all night long. That's the word that owner Tommy Lee Cook is putting out this week as the holidays commence.
There is a $25 cover for the main dining room show which is at 9 p.m. And the outside bar and Shanty Dining Room are also available to the public. Come earlier to begin your dining experience, Cook said.
But to start things off for the holidays, well-known entertainer Jerry Dycke is scheduled to perform this week on December 26, the day after Christmas.
Dycke made a triumphant return to the restaurant in September following a 14-year hiatus. He had begun performing at The Hut back in 1984 and continued until 1999, according to Cindy Cutright, who handles publicity for what is believed to be the most famous restaurant in all of Southwest Florida.
"It's so beautiful and with all the renovations and the beautiful tropical plantings and outside walkways and decks, Lehigh likes to claim it as its own restaurant, as it is located at 5150 Buckingham Road. It's easily accessible from I-75 and by traveling on Colonial Boulevard and Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard. In Lehigh, travelers turn north on Gunnery Road and the restaurant is a few miles down the road on the left.
The Hut, one of the early restaurants in Lee County that opened in the 1920s, was closed for a few years in the 1990s. But because of its beautiful surrounding landscaping, some believed to have been planted by Fort Myers winter visitor and internationally known inventor Thomas Edison. He and the owner of the property, Edwin Peace, long before the restaurant was opened, visited and both were interested in the tropical plantings and Edison is believed to have brought cuttings from his own collection from his yard at his winter home on McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers. In those days, it was a far distance over what was probably a dirt road to Buckingham, which during World War II was a military base for flying bombers.
It was during that time that Edison remarked to the press that once people discovered Fort Myers, millions would come. His predictions have come true.
The present owner is Tommy Lee Cook, who said that he had admired the restaurant for years and finally one day, he decided to purchase it and renovate it to make it like new again. And that he did. There are several dining rooms and clubs and organizations that meet there for lunches. The Hut is open to lunches for business people during the work week.
Cook, who was a building contractor, had the know-how to bring The Hut back to life and he succeeded well. Today, there are beautiful waterfalls outside and a boardwalk and several decks, upper and lower ones for visitors to stroll and for them to find a table and dine outside.
While it may be the most beautiful restaurant and perhaps even the largest, Cook and his staff with the help of friends are trying to get the word out again as it was years ago when everyone in Lee County and its winter visitors became frequent diners at The Hut.
The Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce has been holding its monthly meetings there for the past several months. The get-together is in one of the smaller dining rooms that easily sits 50 or more people. The large dining area can accommodate a large gathering of diners.
The Hut may be a little out of the way if you live in Cape Coral and much of Fort Myers, but once visitors hear of it, they make a fast trek and many come back for good food and fair prices.
As stated before, Jerry Dycke will perform again at the Hut on Dec. 26, January 9 and January 23 and again in February for two dates.
He will be in the restaurant's main dining room and guests can expect a mix of standards such as Always on My Mind, Just The Way You Look Tonight and Moonlight Serenade.
Dycke continues to perform a cross section of music and often chooses a musical format on the fly based on the audience for whom he is playing at the time. He said he often draws more of a dancing crowd rather than a listening crowd.
"I do love country music," he said. "I like Alan Jackson and I do some of his songs and some Waylon Jennings and I sing some Frank Sinatra songs, but I also do Latin music, too," he said.
To say Jerry Dycke has a following would be an understatement and rightfully so. He has enjoyed an impressive career that spans 50 years during which time he recorded for several entertainment industry greats.