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Work on Ford’s Boathouse under way

January 9, 2014
Lehigh Acres Citizen

After some delays and reconsideration of the original design plan, work has begun on Ford's Boathouse, the new restaurant/tackle shop/gas station that will open at the former location of K-C's River Stop on the beach at the Cape Coral Yacht Club.

Work began Monday on the project, according to Ford's Garage owner Zach Kearns, with the new facility expected to open by the end of February.

"Permitting and engineering held things up for a few months," Kearns said. "But we started rocking and rolling on Monday."

Kearns said the concept would be much different than the one it presented to city council in September when the city council approved the lease.

During the proposal stage, the plan was to build something that looked like a boat, Kearns said. He said it was a matter of due diligence, going out to the east coast of the state and seeing what they would like and what would be most receptive.

"It was just an issue of having the proper drawings, engineering and the full scope of work," Kearns said. "We're taking this place from a concession stand to a full-fledged restaurant and bar and that takes work."

The new plan goes above and beyond. The Seminole Indian tribe was commissioned to build the tiki huts and there will be an island theme, Kearns said, similar to Holiday Isle.

"There will be multiple levels, numerous tikis, a full liquor license. We're expecting about a 45-day build out," Kearns said.

There are already people interested in working at Ford's Boathouse as servers and bartenders, as well as cooks, gas pump attendants, bait sales and other things the Boathouse will be doing, Kearns said. He expects Ford's to bring in between 50 and 60 jobs.

The trick will be to train staff and to get the menu set in time for the opening. Kearns said the menu is about 90 percent locked down, with a smaller selection expected so his cooks can execute the dishes properly.

The gas pumps for the boats will be operational, and it will offer live bait and possible pole rentals and underwater fishing lights to attract fish at night.

The company has also lined up third-party companies to supply paddleboard rentals, as well as fishing charter company to take diners on an excursion to make a trip to the boathouse an all-day event and not just a bar and grill.

"We're going to put out an excellent product and people are going to enjoy it," Kearns said. "There will be a lot of cool facets to the place and I want to make this a destination, where you can park and play all day."

Ford's Boathouse will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., with the possibility of closing later after six months. Kearns said he doesn't know if he will extend hours after that.



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