South Cape business boom
From Jan. 6 to July 12, 58 new businesses providing a variety of services moved into existing buildings in South Cape.
Thorsten Stein, owner of Cakes Bakes & More, said before moving to Cape Coral in 2004 with his wife Katherine and children, he owned a bakery in Germany. In November of last year, they started selling their baked goods through their pink Cakes Bakes & More Cupcake Truck, before opening the business in April on 4402 SE 16th Place.
“We were very successful and that is why we decided to open a small bakery,” Thorsten said.
He said he did not want to start his business in a strip mall, but rather a free standing building with a huge parking lot because it was convenient for their business.
The couple owns two pink trucks that currently travel to two farmer markets, one in Fort Myers and one in Punta Gorda to sell their baked goods.
“The farmer’s market is a big part of the business,” he said.
He hopes to participate in a farmer’s market Wednesday through Sunday in Punta Gorda, downtown Fort Myers, Sanibel, Marco Island, Sarasota and Lakes Park.
They will add a trailer to their truck to sell German cold cuts at the farmer’s markets in the near future.
Thorsten decided to merge his business with a couple who owns a German bakery in Lehigh Acres, due to the relationship he has built with them by attending the same farmer’s markets.
“The decision that we are merging together was just made a couple of weeks ago,” he said.
Thorsten said his business focuses 80 percent on German pastries and the business out of Lehigh Acres focuses 80 percent on German breads, pretzels and baked goods.
Although the two businesses will merge, Thorsten said 90 percent of the baking will take place out of his store in Cape Coral.
Currently the bakery’s only staff are its owners. Thorsten said he hopes to hire some employees at the end of the year when there are more seasonal people in town.
“I think it is when we need more people,” he said.
All of the German specialities sold at the bakery are made from scratch every day with fresh ingredients.
So far, Thorsten said, their business has done really well.
Another new business was opened by brand new residents to the area during the first part of April.
Jan and her husband Shorty Hedges opened their business, Outdoor Kitchen Design Center at 629 Cape Coral Parkway, after moving to the area during the first part of March.
Jan said her husband traveled from Tampa for a few months to find a new location for their business before they moved to Cape Coral. She said they chose South Cape because it was a central location to Fort Myers, Naples and Punta Gorda for the product they provide to their customers.
Outdoor Kitchen Design Center provides Marine grade polymer outdoor kitchens, along with professional grills. She said due to the material they use, it lasts forever because it does not fade, rot or form mildew.
“It is wonderful for an outdoor kitchen,” Jan said.
Although business has been slow since April, Jan said each month it has picked up. She said as they become more well known and the temperature outside cools down, she believes they will become even busier.
“So far we are happy with opening the business in South Cape,” Jan said, adding that they are waiting for the snowbirds to come back in town. “The CRA (downtown Community Redevelopment Agency) has been very supportive of us and the fellow business people in the South Cape.”
Jan said everyone has been very helpful in giving them direction for the area.
The owners are currently the only employees of the store, which Jan said will probably continue for the next six months.
“I wouldn’t anticipate hiring anyone in the next six months,” she said.
The Hedges previously operated a business in Missouri before opening a business in Tampa for six years. Jan said her husband custom designs outdoor kitchens for customers.
A long-time resident of Cape Coral decided to open an ice cream shop at 520 Cape Coral Parkway earlier this year because he wanted to generate more money into the community.
Tim Miles said he decided to open Ice SSSCreamin with his partner Jefre Congelosi because Cape Coral needed such a shop at the south end.
“I wasn’t happy with what was here before, so my partner and I decided to get this place and put in something nice,” he said.
They opened for business at the end of February.
“I live here, so I am going to try and keep the money here,” he said about being a resident of Cape Coral for 20 years. “We have to support Cape Coral.”
Although the economic times are hard and Miles believes it will get harder, his business has been steady since it opened.
“Business has been steady and new people every week are coming,” he said.
Ice SSSCreamin currently has seven employees, which Miles hopes will increase when season comes.
“If we need to hire some more people we will,” he said.
The ice cream shop is “home to the flavor burst” – a 10 percent soft serve mix that can have any flavor added to the cold treat. Miles said right now they have eight different flavors integrated into their serving machine, which becomes interchangeable from time to time with other flavors.
South Cape Community Redevelopment Agency Economic Development Manager Helen Ramey said that businesses are moving into South Cape because it is such a tight-knit community.
“There is such a strong mix of individually owned businesses, especially if you are opening a restaurant,” she said,adding the South Cape is known as the city’s “dining and entertainment destination.”
Ramey said there are more than 60 establishments that pertain to dining or some form of entertainment in a half mile radius in South Cape.
“If you are looking for a dining experience that is unique you will find it in South Cape,” she said, because the majority of the restaurants are individually owned and offer specially prepared food.
CRA Chairman Don Heilser said he is excited to see that during the toughest time the city has seen, a number of people have shown their confidence in the CRA area of town by opening up a new business.
“It is a positive thing,” he said. “To have that many businesses moving into our area is nothing but a very positive thing.”