When Hurricane Charley swept through Punta Gorda and took Nestor's with it, it would have been easy for the owners to call it a day.
Undaunted, Ana and Nestor Tsimpedes moved 25 miles down the road to North Fort Myers, where they have not only built an entirely new clientele but brought more than a few of their old customers with them.
Nestor's serves up breakfast and lunch every day and dinner five nights a week, with different specials every day, including early birds, which you don't have to be early for.
Nestor abd Ana Tsimpedes
Though Nestor has been in the business since age 14, the couple has been in the restaurant business since 1978
"Nestor's family owned a restaurant and pizzeria in New Jersey. When he was a teenager they put him to work," Ana said. "We got engaged and bought our first restaurant in Rutherford, N.J."
The couple moved to Florida in 1992 and opened the original Nestor's on U.S. 41 and Aqui Esta in Punta Gorda in 1994, where a bank sits today.
That ended in 2004 when Charley hit and knocked the Tsimpedes out of business for a year before Nestor's moved to 4400 Hancock Bridge Parkway Road in 2005.
While such a move might be considered risky, Nestor's brought a lot of their longtime customers from Punta Gorda with them.
Tom Brendel, of North Fort Myers was going to visit relatives in Bradenton when he mistook the name of the restaurant in Punta Gorda for the street it was on. He tried it and has become a customer for more than 20 years.
"We live here. He followed us down here. He was gone for a year and suddenly he's a mile away from my house," Brendel said. "We tried it and the rest is history."
Ana said there is a misconception Nestor's is all Greek, but they also make American- and Italian-style food as well. All food is made to order and fresh. No frozen or prepared foods allowed. Nestor makes the soup and rice pudding daily.
Among the signature dishes are the lamb shanks and gyros, as well as Shrimp Santorini, chicken souvlaki and traditional liver and onions, which is popular among older customers.
Nestors can accommodate large parties and offers outdoors dining on the patio. The Red Hat Society and car and radio clubs come regularly for meetings and social gatherings. Early bird specials start at 11 a.m. and run until close. They are complete dinners that start at $11.95.
"We have the place full inside and outside. We'll have people waiting outside, but that usually large parties. If you have a party of four, those move quicker, so you really don't have to wait," Ana said.
There are daily dinner specials that feature two different soups. On Friday during Lent they are lentil and lobster bisque.
Nestor's is open Tuesday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday and Monday from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. They are currently taking reservations for Easter and Mother's Day.
For more information, call 997-9939.