The Geib family is not afraid of a challenge. The former Channel Marker restaurant has been a revolving door of restaurants and bars for years, earning its label as "cursed," but new owner Ken Geib knows what to do.
Nauti Parrot Dock Bar is set to open May 1, adding another location to Geib's bar restaurants. He and his family first opened the Nauti Parrot Tiki Hut, located in North Fort Myers, in 2015. The first location had a similar history of failures, but Nauti Parrot has been holding strong.
"We know what we're doing, and we have experience in a failing location," said Tyler Geib, Ken's son and business manager.
Ken and Tyler Geib, father and son of Cape Coral and North Fort Myers, work on getting the Nauti Parrot Dock Bar ready to open.
Ken and Tyler, along with Mary, Ken's wife, and Bobby, Ken's younger son, plan to make the Dock Bar a hotspot for boaters. With 21 slips and an easy-access location, it won't be hard. "Go fast" boats with soft tops can easily fit under Hurricane Pass Bridge, and those with taller masts only have to go around the end of San Carlos Island to moor up at the restaurant.
Besides providing a "hook and cook," where fishers can bring in their catch to cook up, Tyler said they plan to have dock parties, fishing tournaments and Sunday football during season.
The family has three boats of their own, the SS Nauti, Nauti 1, and Nauti Too, and are familiar with the local boating community.
"There are no destination bars for 'go fast' boats," Ken said.
He and Tyler hope to turn the Dock Bar into a place for boaters to want to go. For land dwellers, the waterside has appeal, too. Tyler said he sees dolphins hanging around the docks every day.
The key to making their second location a success is to build a loyal base of local customers, Tyler said. While season predictably brings more business, the Geibs want to be sure locals love their business too. In that vein, they plan to have live entertainment all year, including during the summer. Sports will also be an important draw - the Cape Coral family used to live in Pennsylvania, and their chef, Scott Deibert, was most recently the chef for the Phillies baseball team.
Of all its previous restaurants, Channel Marker was the longest-standing. Ken said he has reached out to former employees and patrons of the former restaurant to gather intel on how it was successful and will include what he learned in the business model.
Parking at the location has always been a problem - the parking lot is small, and it's hard to get in or out since the turn is adjacent to the Buttonwood traffic signal. But Ken has it figured out: he's rented several parking spaces behind the Shiner's Club, and will shuttle customers back and forth on a six-seater golf cart.
The restaurant will have a Key West feeling, with a seafood menu to match. But Chef Deibert's motto is "a global menu with local ingredients," so other options will be available.
Charity efforts will also play an important role at the restaurant, one the Geibs are bringing from the North Fort Myers location. During football season, they always have a running charity, such as Cleaning for a Cause, which sends volunteer cleaners into someone's home to clean while they are getting treatment for cancer. In line with their appeal to boaters, the fishing tournaments they plan to organize will likely be a benefit for a local organization.
Nauti Parrot Dock Bar will open May 1. During the week, doors will open at 4 p.m., and at 11 a.m.on the weekend. The Geibs are planning a grand opening for Memorial Day Weekend.
"Offering a different experience than the typical beach restaurant is our goal. We want to offer a product that has value for the Florida local and seasonal snowbird alike," Ken said.