When many move to or live in Florida, they look forward to having lunch or dinner with a tropical atmosphere, a tiki bar with a water view.
But they can be few and far between. Now there will be three in one central, scenic area in North Fort Myers - Marinatown Yacht Harbour.
Al's Tiki Bar and Grill has now opened there, joining already running Cactus Jack's Southwest Grill, with Bar & Grill opening soon. There are also plans to reopen T.P. Houlihan's Pub, closer to the end of the year.
Owner Al Upchurch and wife Grit at entrance to new Al’s Tiki Bar And Grill in Marinatown.
The owner of the new Al's is Al Upchurch from Port Charlotte. "I've always wanted to run a restaurant," he said. He was a Charlotte County deputy for 11 years. He took an early retirement in January of this year to help with his wife Grit's business. Then he came upon an opportunity for a restaurant with a water view. "I fell in love with the whole area," he said.
A tropical tiki atmosphere is what Al's Bar and Grill is all about. Island-themed food, drink and indoor and outdoor water view seating is the focus.
He is even hosting the ultra-tropical local Jimmy Buffet Parrot Head Club the second Thursday of each month 6 to 9 p.m.
His restaurant is now in the complex in the location of the former Sundown Tiki, where guests can come by land or sea.
Marinatown is home to 136 boat slips at Marker 52 for boaters.
John Socha is the owner of Paddlecreek Outfitters and its bait shop in the marina, and serves as Harbormaster for the complex. "There is plenty of free dockage for lunch and dinner. We're making a lot of improvements around the property, which includes a half mile boardwalk. You can take a walk and take in the scenery.
"There is also new lighting at the marina. If you come at night it is all lit up, and we have a huge parking lot."
At the new Al's, signature items are the kabobs, including Grilled Jerk Chicken Kabobs, Gulf Shrimp Kabobs and Grilled Hawaiian Pork Tenderloin Kabobs, as well as their crab cakes and beach bread.
Al's Beach Bread even includes a tropical flair. It's a toasted baguette topped with fresh herbs and melted bleu cheese and tomato, served with a jerk ranch dressing.
There is also a variety of non-jerk items - salads, burgers, snow crab and New York strip.
"We have daily specials, lunch and dinner, and happy hour every day, 2 for 1 on wells and house wines," Upchurch said.
The restaurant is dog friendly outside, and many bring their dogs on their boats or by car to walk the boardwalk.
The restaurant will be a family affair. Besides Al being on site his wife Grit will actively help out as well. Having hands-on, working owners at both Al's and the new Gatorz will only help the dining experience, said Marinatown officials. In the past, there were several out-of-state owners at restaurants there.
The chef at Al's is Philip Donall originally from West Virginia, now 10 years in Florida. He s been at Maxwell's at Venetian Bay, Bonita Bay West Clubhouse and Bleu Provence.
Trained at the Culinary Institute of New York, he apprenticed under a chef from the Cordon Bleu at Bleu Provence.
"Our point is to have nice, fresh, high-end food for a reasonable price," Donall said. "And the new location is very nice - especially the view."
"We are going to be doing theme nights and an action station - a chef out preparing the food in front of people," said Upchurch. "We will also have an All You Can Eat Fish Fry Fridays for $9.95".
"Everything is fresh at the restaurant," he said. "We cut our own fries and bread our own calamari. We get the fish in whole and cut our own filets. Sauces will all be prepared there as well."
Desserts are house made and will change weekly. This week key lime pie and raspberry gelee were featured.
Once season rolls around, they will also be doing pig roasts Saturday afternoons at the Tiki.
"We are also having live music - tropical music. Weekends now, but more nights in season," said Upchurch.
Pasta nights will also be held, Tuesdays starting next week.
"We have the NFL Sunday Ticket, again with drink specials. There will be $2.50 bottle specials for Red Stripe, Red Stripe Light, and Sol. "
Al s Tiki Bar And Grill is at 3448 Marinatown Lane Ste. 2, Marinatown Lane.
The phone number is 543-8454. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday