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Casablanca Cafe reopens at Lani Kai

By Staff | Jun 18, 2020

As you enter the Casablanca Cafe in the lobby area of the Lani Kai Island Resort, Humphrey Bogart is sitting right there watching over the place.

It’s only fitting that Bogart’s portrait greets visitors to the Starbucks-stocked establishment on Fort Myers Beach now that the cafe has reopened after being closed for nearly three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bogart’s memorable portrayal of Rick Blaine in “Casablanca” helped make him one of the most iconic actors in film history.

Still photos of the cafe’s namesake, considered one of the greatest movies ever, line up and down the cafe. There are works of art as well, with murals featuring Lani Kai owner Bob Conidaris and his late wife Grace joining Bogart and friends – “Casablanca” was one of their favorite movies.

Starbucks lovers have a wide variety of choices to choose from such as expresso and iced coffee lattes, cappuccino, white-chocolate mocha and caramel macchiato. Coffee is offered with a dry-light roast, medium roast and dark roast.

Looking for something more juicy? Casablanca has refreshing drinks like mango dragonfruit, strawberry acai, veryberry hibiscus and herbal tea juice with freeze-dried fruits and water.

Cafe manager Megan Dubay makes her own special cocktail, the frozen rumchata. The drink mixes coffee with a creamy Caribbean rum, vanilla syrup and caramel.

“This used to be a piano bar,” said Lani Kai manager Ken Conidaris.

For years, the cafe was known as the “Casablanca Lounge,” going back to the hotel’s founding in the late 1970’s. “This was a really popular lounge,” he said. In 2017, the lounge was turned into a cafe. “A lot of guests say ‘I used to party here’ when they visit the cafe, Dubay said.

For years, black and white still photos from “Casablanca” have filled the lounge, along with other Bogart pictures such as the 1939 film “Angels with Dirty Faces” with James Cagney. For a while, the cafe used to keep “Casablanca” on constant rotation on a television though that has been replaced with a radio channel playing hits from the 1980’s. Dubay said they will still play the movie upon request.

There are also cinnamon rolls, danishes, freshly-baked cookies, muffins and other pastries. There is a loyalty program at the cafe. If you buy five non-alcoholic drinks, you get one free.

Currently, the hours are limited to Friday through Sunday, from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.