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Tommy’s opens at the Shell Factory

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Jan 27, 2021

The long-awaited Tommy's Tiki Bar has opened at The Shell Factory & Nature Park.


It took a year and a half from start to finish, but the Shell Factory was finally able to cut the ribbon on one of its biggest projects ever this month, when it opened Tommy’s Tiki Bar.

Many friends and supporters were on hand to witness the opening of the covered outdoor bar on Jan. 13, which finally put a cap on the three big projects that were done on the restaurant portion of the complex.

At 5:55 p.m., owner Pam Cronin turned on the neon sign for Tommy’s, donated by Suncoast Distributors, to make everything official.

“It took 19 months and we’re so excited. Everyone has stepped up and worked so hard,” Cronin said. “Even Lee County got together with the Building Department and helped us jumped the hurdles, and the North Fort Myers Fire Department inspectors have tried to make this work for us. We’re excited we’re finally here.”

Tommy’s is expected to be a destination, where people can go for entertainment every night, albeit earlier since North Fort Myers “rolls up its streets earlier,” Cronin said. The bar will seat 40, with tables around it, separated to encourage social distancing.

Anne Sheridan said that all the issues are behind them and Tommy’s is finally open, which is the best thing that could happen.

“I love it and the response has been ridiculously great. People waited for it and when people told me it was better than they imagined,” Sheridan said. “I think it will be busy all the time and people are going to want to come here.”

Tommy’s, which pays homage to its late owner Tom Cronin, was expected to open last year around this time, but COVID and other setbacks pushed the opening back, Cronin said.

The completion of Tommy’s wraps up the transformation of the restaurant, with the opening of the Southern Grill and the Players Circle Theater, both of which opened in 2019.

Robert Cacioppo, who runs the Players Circle, said this labor of love is fantastic and worth the wait.

“It’s such a huge room with a big oval bar and the covering and the tiki-like heaters. It’s such a huge addition to North Fort Myers and all of Lee County,” Cacioppo said. “You can even bring your dog. That’ll make it very popular.”

John Finstrom, a friend of Tommy’s, said he promised to help and support Pam, and came up with the idea to honor him with a tiki bar.

“With the help of Pam and a lot of other people, we got it done. It was a long, arduous process. We renovated the restaurant, we built the Players Circle in what used to be the Dolphin Room, so we transformed the building into a great entertainment venue,” Finstrom said.

The Shell Factory and related ammenties are at 16554 N. Cleveland Ave. in North Fort Myers.