Restaurant owner Tom Houghton has signed a 7-year lease for his new La Ola restaurant in Bell Tower on Cleveland Avenue in Fort Myers. The 4,136-square-foot location with 1,843 square feet of outdoor space is expected to open in March.
Houghton said opening a Fort Myers location allows his team to get back to work quickly and will bring a taste of the beach inland. “Opening a second location in Fort Myers was a direct result of the storm. I realized how vulnerable we are on the beach, and I didn’t want to risk everything. Bell Tower will provide a safer home base while the island gets rebuilt, and we await a hopeful future location back on the beach.”
In addition to opening the new location for La Ola Surfside Restaurant, Houghton is hoping to open a temporary beach bar from two shipping containers in Times Square. That has run into a snag due to FEMA rules, however, the town of Fort Myers Beach is trying to help Houghton overcome the FEMA challenges.
Houghton is still hoping to be able to rebuild in Times Square. He does not own the property, he was leasing it from property owner. Time will tell how that all plays out in Times Square. Not only are there several property owners who will have to agree on a plan to rebuild, the town of Fort Myers Beach owns property in the square and Lee County owns both the pier and Lynn Hall Park close by. So far no official meetings have been held to discuss the future of the square and there are still giant piles of debris where several buildings once stood.
La Ola Surfside Restaurant will offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Bell Tower Shops and the same menu that was available at the Times Square location. There will also be live music in the afternoons and evenings. Houghton will complete a minor renovation of the space and add a small stage, dance floor and awning to the 1,800-square-foot patio.
Houghton said part of the appeal of our Fort Myers Beach location was that we were in a public square, so people could mill around and would always end up at La Ola at some point in the day. “Bell Tower offers this same atmosphere, so people have the option to eat at another restaurant and then stop by for live music and a drink.”