With 2020 bringing its most challenging obstacles, all businesses have felt the burden of staying open, let alone maintaining a great reputation. Through it all, two, old time staple restaurants on Fort Myers Beach keep rolling along.
Covid - 19, Red Tide, Hurricanes, years of road construction, and other obstacles, too numerous to mention have burdened all business in South West Florida, through it all, Junkanoos and one of the top-rated dining restaurants ... Fresh Catch Bistro, keep rolling along. These two popular restaurants have one thing in common... Consistency... Having been here for the past 20 years myself, I believe, that consistency is Jerry Nolan.... Jerry has been managing the affairs of both restaurants for the past 17 years.
I caught up with Jerry Nolan, long time manager of the Fresh Catch, who recently survived a fifteen-day hospital stay encounter with Covid -19 that I would not wish on my worst enemy, however ... fortunately.... it was not his time.... he had a difficult struggle but he survived and is still with us. He agreed to speak with us for this article.
I asked Jerry how the two restaurants have fared through the pandemic? Jerry said " It's been a challenge, like everyone else, the state closed us mid-March until May 4th, but actually, we have done very well, considering.”
I asked Jerry how his customers were dealing with this 'Covid mess'? he said "I'm glad to say, our new customers say ... 'We'll be back' and our regulars tell us 'Everything was great as usual'..... those are the best things I can hear from our guests ... whether they are new or been coming in for years, and remember, we are also still maintaining only a 70% capacity, the safety of our customers and staff are paramount!...”
When I asked about changes to the menu, Jerry told me Junkanoos is adding new menu items every week and teased me with 2 new items on the Fresh Catch menu, a great new appetizer, Seafood Salad, with Octopus, Crab Meat, Shrimp, Avocados, Peppers, Onions, Capers, and Tomatoes...$18 And a special entree "Beramundi Vera Cruz, an 8 oz pan seared filet, green olives, avocados, peppers , onions, capers, and tomatoes.... for $34 ........ sure to be a crowd pleaser!
I asked if Chef Pablo Felix was still the man behind the scenes...
Chef Pablo Felix
"Absolutely, without Pablo, co-chef Javier, and our great wait staff.... we might as well be a garage" he replied.... “and Pablo and his staff just have just won us the Trip Advisor prestigious 'Best of The Best' Award!
Which means that Fresh Catch Bistro came in the top 10% in the whole world, based on reviews and fine foods!!" Then added ... " Pablo is also making videos that are on our Facebook page, there are over 30 of them already, all with a comic flair!"
I mentioned to him, "You've been with this company 17 years, you must be doing something right! What's the secret?
Being who he is ... Jerry gave all the credit to everyone else ... he replied "1st. It's Franco Russo, who has proved himself a worthy owner, He's the head! Then, our great general manager, Neal, he makes the two places run, from crunching the numbers to working on our washing machine, he does it all!"
Then there's our Chefs, the Staff and the Great Food.... that what keeps them coming back, then there's our Co-managers, and we have 4 who are all 20 to 30 years younger than me, Jay, Andreas, Patrick and Reyes... their energy allows them to handle any situation, and I also want to mention our superb bartenders and our incredible office staff, Christine and Lisa" and then he closes with "and then I come along"
So, I asked... "What about the great tribute shows you have become famous for, The Rat Pack, Don Rickles, Streisand, Kenny Rogers and all the others?
Jerry said, "This year, those shows will be split up between The Moose Club, on San Carlos Blvd, FM Beach and Cape Cabaret on the corner of Vincennes Blvd. and 47th Ter. in Cape Coral, the first show will be the Rat Pack on January 27th at the Moose Club...
The great food and service continues and another great show is coming soon, look for more information on this next show below.