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Landmark on Fort Myers Beach to close its doors

By Staff | May 8, 2009

The business has been around since 1954.
It was named because Gulf surfs from hurricanes and tropical storms “wiped out” the former business a block north on Fort Myers Beach’s main street.
It has withstood countless hurricanes and has been a safe haven to many locals during those extreme stormy conditions.
Some call it “church” on Sundays. Others call it their favorite neighborhood bar.
But, unfortunately, all good things come to an end. That is the case with the Surf Club, one of the longest standing businesses — if not buildings — on Fort Myers Beach.
Owner Bruce Cermak will close the doors of the square-shaped, concrete building at 1204 Estero Blvd. on Monday. He will vacate the premises and eventually move his business across the street to the former Waffle House.
“Sometimes things happen beyond your control,” he said. “You have your moments of sorrow and then get on with your life.”
Cermak has owned the Surf Club since 1997, but his lease was terminated.
“May 11 is the last day here,” he said. “There was a clause in my lease agreement for termination for convenience. I was given a 180-day notice, which is fair.”
Cermak decided to stay in the neighborhood after looking at several locations. Although he is excited about the move, the date is still undetermined.
“The building became available only in March and it took some time to close the deal,” he said. “The owner of the property doesn’t live in town and March is a very busy time with season and spring break.”
Cermak said the deal for putting a new business in the former Waffle House building closed in April. He is unsure if he will have a liquor store attached to the bar this time.
“That’s to be determined,” Cermak said. “We’re looking at putting food in, and we’ll see whatever else we can get licensed for the property. We’re just making sure that everything is going to be legal and up to code.”
At this point, everything appears to be moving slow.
“I have a lot of plans but nothing concrete yet until we check out the feasibility and legality of it all,” he said.
Cermak still plans on having outdoor fund-raisers in the parking lot to the left of the building, and the back of the building might accommodate tables and chairs. Since the building has canal space, a dock might come in handy.
“We’re checking into that,” he said. “You have to check it out before you put any money or time into it and make sure that it’s legal. The parking lot will be used for special events.”
The new business will gain 400 square feet. The former Waffle House has 1,750 square feet compared to 1,350 in the existing business, according to Cermak. The extra room will provide kitchen space, but do not expect live music.
“I don’t think there’s room for it,” he said. “It’ll be a local neighborhood place. Anything that I do own in (the current place), I’ll take it along.”
On Saturday, there will be an official closing party for the Surf Club’s original location.