The buildings are gone but the spirit to move on from Hurricane Ian continues. Nearly every building in the entertainment district of Fort Myers Beach was swallowed up by the storm and sucked into the Gulf of Mexico. Since that day, La Ola restaurant owner Thomas Houghton has played a major role in getting life back to normal.
Houghton did not own the building or the property that was home to his popular restaurant in Times Square. As he waits for property owners, the Town of Fort Myers Beach and Lee County to start planning for the future of Times Square, Houghton has been making lemonade out of lemons at his former location. And the crowds are coming to his location now, just as they did before the storm.
First, it was the La Ola Express food truck, which, shortly after the storm, fed mainly workers in the area. AThen, as people started to trickle back to the beach, Houghton added tables and umbrellas, then live music. He started selling alcohol in addition to his limited menu from the food truck.
On Friday several large containers were delivered to Times Square which will give Houghton an opportunity to expand even further.
The containers joined together are 16ft x 40ft. There are two doors that open outward to create a 7 foot deck. The bar inside the container is roughly 30 feet long leaving room for a musician to set up inside. The bartender’s will have two stations to prepare cocktails. In the back of the containers there are two bathrooms for customers and one bathroom for employees. The containers also have sinks, a big ice machine and a walk in cooler.
Houghton hopes to have his new make-shift La Ola restaurant open for business this weekend.