Cape ambiance: Boat House Tiki Bar & Grill
Cape Coral has long been recognized as the largest waterfront community in the state of Florida, with more canals than Venice, Italy. Unfortunately, there weren’t many waterfront dining destinations for those who enjoyed the lifestyle. The Kearns Restaurant Group/McGuigan Restaurant Concepts, well known for its destination dining concepts, approached the City of Cape Coral with an exciting concept for the restaurant at the Cape Coral Yacht Club.
Redfish Point has a historical value to the City of Cape Coral. Known as the cornerstone of the city the first location where its growth evolved is an important location, and the Kearns/McGuigan partnership recognized the importance, honoring it with The Boathouse concept. Built on the intersection of the Caloosahatchee and the Flamingo Canal, in the neighborhood of the city’s very first homes, resting next to the iconic Cape Coral fishing pier stretching out from the beach, this eatery takes full advantage of the small amount of real estate on which it’s perched.
The Kearns/McGuigan group is very selective in its management. General managers are hired during construction, involved from the ground up, to have a strong sense and loyalty in fulfilling the concept.
“I have been in restaurants on Fort Myers Beach for 14 years as a general manager, and director for 16 years running waterfront restaurants. I have to say, in my career, this is the best win-win situation I have ever been in,” said Boat House general manager Mickey Ferry. “I have been the general manager for over 1.5 years, in the development stage through completion. It was an evolution about the way the Boat House was built a lot of hands and input.”
According to Ferry, “The design for this property was an evolution. The basic design of the building was clear because there wasn’t an additional footprint to expand on the land, so they went up. There is a first deck that has a big wrap-around bar and dining tables. In the tradition of the Kearns/McGuigan unique design concepts, there is a big boat hanging up over the bar. A conversation piece, the boat is named IITYWIMWYBMAD, with a slowly revolving propeller and occasionally a puff of smoke coming out of the exhaust.”
If you want to have some fun, ask people if they know what the name means and when they ask, say, “If I Tell You What It Means, Will You Buy Me A Drink?” Always brings a laugh and maybe a free drink!
“The second deck is raised and connected to the first bar by a wide riverfront dining area with entertainment and up a flight of stairs with wheelchair access,” Ferry said. “It is called the Flamingo Bar, named after the canal that runs along the side of the bar. It is a very simple idea with a lot of impact.”
There is a stretch of beach under the deck for gathering a quick soak or wander over from the Cape Coral Yacht Club beach for refreshment and if you’re lucky, you can snag one of the beachfront tables along the pier.
Although the location is the star, the food doesn’t fall far behind. A wide assortment of entrees to suit any taste, you can bring a group and everyone will find something they like.
There is a nice selection of appetizers to nibble while watching the sun set. A hot app item is the coconut shrimp platter. If enjoying the sea air, order a half or full pound of the peel-and-eat Gulf shrimp, scooped straight out of the Gulf of Mexico, served hot with clarified butter or cold with cocktail sauce.
Savor the soup of the day or the popular beef chili with beans. A fresh selection of salad entrees consist of a nice variety of classic and specialty blends.
Have a basket, enjoying the Boat House Fried Seafood Basket (a signature dish, overflowing with fresh Mahi-Mahi fingers, shrimp and oysters), or any of the other great fresh basket options.
If you’re in the mood for a sandwich, burger or panini, the Boat House has you covered. Popular are the mahi-mahi sandwich, the Cuban “Laundromat style” pressed panini, and the Boat House Burger, consisting of 8 ounces of Angus heaven.
Children aren’t overlooked with a tasty kids menu of cheeseburgers, Nathan’s hot dogs, chicken fingers, a cheese or pepperoni pizza, fried shrimp or Mahi fingers.
If you’re an early riser, have some breakfast by the river, available at the eatery from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Enjoy a classic egg breakfast, or try something new, like the Boat House breakfast burrito, the Boat House omelet or the Tropical short stack, made with Florida orange marmalade batter. It’s “a taste of Florida so good, you won’t need syrup.” Kick back with a bloody mary, screwdriver or mimosa during the early riser happy hour.
Speaking of liquid libations, there’s a nice bar selection of standard and craft beers and wine. Wicked Dolphin Rum, crafted in Cape Coral, is one of the featured spirits within the full bar. Try a Boat House signature Wicked Pirate tea or one of the 17 Boat House specialty cocktails.
Live entertainment plays island sounds from the Boat House stage seven days a week, from noon to 4 p.m., and again from 5 to 9 p.m., providing a nice ambiance to an already beautiful experience.
When asked to describe what it’s like to come to the Boat House Tiki Bar and Grill, Ferry had a quick answer. “Everybody shows up feeling the way they feel it is a place where you can just be there and enjoy being. Some come in shorts, some come in casual dinner attire, and people come on their lunch break in work clothes. We have so many walks of life simultaneously traveling through at the same time everyone comes through here, and when they leave they have all had a different experience: music, good food, sunsets we want each person to have their own experience. The bottom line is that it’s a tiki bar we like to say that whatever happens at the river, stays at the river.”
Ferry closes with the following sentiment: “It is paradise and is the vision that many people have of this area. We feel you don’t have to be wealthy to live like you are with these amenities.”
The Boat House is at 5819 Driftwood Parkway
Hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. For more info, call 239-945-2628 or visit TheBoatHouseUSA.com.