It’s been a good 35 years for a restaurant that opened in the city when it was in its infancy.
On Friday, Carole and Wayne Wasylyk, of Jimbo’s Restaurant, a family-owned, downtown dining landmark on 1604 S.E. 46th St., announced it will close Sunday.
But just because Jimbo’s is closing, doesn’t mean the space is going to remain empty.
To owner Carole Wasylyk, it will still be a bittersweet ending.
“For 15 years you know your customers you know them by their first name. They’ve been with you,” Wasylyk said. “I’ve had staff with me for 12, 13 years, and they’re family.”
Jimbo’s opened in April 1978 under the ownership of Francois Prudhomme Delodder. At the time, Del Prado Boulevard was two-lane road that was occasionally used as a landing strip to bring potential home buyers.
Jimbo’s became known for serving homemade American diner fare to the growing community.
The Wasylyks moved here from New Jersey and acquired the business in 1998. From there, they made very significant changes.
“It was on a canal. At that point it did not have a patio, but a way to get there by boat,” Wasylyk said. “We thought it would be a great place to put a patio and start a business.”
Jimbo’s continued to thrive and, in 2010, the restaurant became the “Home of 50 Burgers” when the Wasylyks expanded their menu to include more than 50 variations of prime grade angus burgers.
The Wasylyks, however, got an offer that was too good to pass up by a restaurateur and furniture maker from Mexico, who wanted to serve his brand of Mexican food to people downtown.
“We liked that they had previously been in the business and thought it would be good energy with a new restaurant coming in with all the others,” Wasylyk said.
Thus, Jimbo’s will become the home of Monarca’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine Bar & Grill.
The new owners, headed by Guillermo Cuevas and Erik Rivas, said they want to offer authentic Mexican cuisine. The new owners hope to create jobs for local residents and professional chefs, with specific regional expertise from Mexico.
“We think we can create a niche where people will come and have good food and fun,” Rivas said. “We have a chance to take up where Jimbo’s left off with a great location, so we have a great chance for success.”
Wasylyk and the old staff from Jimbo’s will have an opportunity to work at Monarca’s, which will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A selection of American classic breakfasts will be offered as well as an array of Mexican breakfast dishes.
Guillermo also indicated that Monarca’s will also feature hand-made tortillas and guacamole made tableside with customer selected ingredients, and will honor Jimbo’s burger legacy by offering burgers with a Mexican flair.
Rivas said he’ll have a hard act to follow.
“Jimbo’s has been here 35 years, and it’s been a great experience working with Carole and Wayne. We want to take that tradition and make it our own,” Rivas said.
And many of its regular customers will certainly miss Jimbo’s, but look forward to Monarca’s.
“Jimbo’s had a great diversity of food and a great family environment,” Cape Coral City Councilmember Marty McClain said. “The one thing I’m picking up on the new place is the word authentic. That’s important. That gives a variety that people look for. I’m looking forward to it.”