New waterfront restaurant opens in Marinatown
There’s a new, fun water view restaurant at the The Marinatown Yacht Harbour on Hancock Bridge Parkway – Bonkers Tiki American Grill – dubbed “the place 2 B.”
“It’s a fun, exciting place,” said John Socha. He’s the owner of Paddlecreek Outfitters and its bait shop in the marina, and serves as Harbormaster for the complex. “They have good food, good entertainment and it’s a nice mix or match for the current waterfront restaurants in Marina-town.”
He also complimented new owner Michael Assam.
“Mike is also committed, along with all the other restaurant owners, to making the Marinatown Waterfront the ultimate waterfront dining destination in Lee County,” he said.
Joe Ball, property manager of the Marina, agreed.
“It’s great. Not only do you have four distinctly restaurants concepts, there is something going on every night – different bands,” he said. “At least one of the restaurants has live entertainment and on Fridays and Saturday nights we have our Mallory Square Sunset Celebration from 6 to 8 p.m. It can be everything from stilt walkers to fire breathers on the boardwalk.
Assam, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, has lived in the United States since 1985. He has that charming Island accent, and is bringing a Caribbean twist to many of his dishes.
“I’ve been in the industry 22 years, in New York, Connecticut, Georgia and Florida,” Assam said. “I went back to my country on the tourist island of Tobago in 2009, and was a dining consultant there. Then I came across this location and wanted to open a restaurant here.”
He said he is extremely happy about both the location and his new community.
“The people are very friendly and laid back and that reminds me of the islands,” he said. “I like the concept of waterfront dining and the synergy that can be had in this marina with all the different restaurants.”
Bonkers joins Dorado’s Dockside Seafood Restaurant and TP Hoolihan’s, Cactus Jack’s Southwest Grill and Gatorz Marinatown.
The grand opening is Thursday, March 8, from 5 to 10 p.m. There will be specials, giveaways and music.
“We already had a soft opening, as many restaurateurs know is to work out the kinks and provide excellent service,” he said.
He’s also working in a unique way with patrons.
“This is a menu we like to get comments about, from our customers to see what they prefer,” he said. “For example, we had a comment on deep fried pickles, so therefore it will come up in our Tuesday menu meeting and see how we could prepare it.”
His favorites things on the current menu are the 10-ounce Bonkers Burger and the crab cakes.
“Everything is all made in house,” he said. “And our Pasta Alfredo is to die for.”
Two other house favorites are a delicious clam chowder and spicy wings with a Caribbean flair in the sauce.
Assam’s focus is on customization.
“Give customers what they want,” he said. “Of course, we will have our own signature dishes which will be a fusion of American Grill and Caribbean flavors.”
His price philosophy is value for your dollar, he said, and oversized portions.
“We do shop price on a regular basis for our raw materials which will allow us to offer the best price to the consumer,” he said. “Taste and presentation though are the two most important things me.”
Local residents have been stopping by in the few short weeks they have opened the doors.
“Since we’ve opened, we’ve actually had some regulars,” Assam said. “That’s what I like about the area. They come in and give us complaints and compliments, and since we’ve opened, I feel we have 98 percent customer satisfaction.”
They also have entertainment, both inside and outside.
“There are very few places where you can dine in air conditioned comfort and outside at a tiki bar.”
There are specials daily on both food and drink. They carry Carib beer from Trinidad, and use it for “Carib-tinis.” They also feature frozen margaritas of their own style and other signature drinks.
“Bonkers is a happy, crazy place, where you can dine in short pants, a tuxedo or three piece suit,” Assam said. “We re all bonkers here, a happy place to be.”
Marinatown is home to 136 boat slips at Marker 52 for boaters, so you can visit by land or sea. There is also a waterfront boardwalk.
Bonkers Tiki is located at 3448 Marinatown Lane, Ste. 2. Hours are from 11 a.m. to close, seven days a week. The phone number is 599-8516.