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Snug Harbor enjoying the view

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Nov 3, 2020

Snug Harbor at Old San Carlos Boulevard in Fort Myers Beach

Nick and Mary Ruland have overcome the odds in a tough year on Fort Myers Beach to enjoy a successful opening with their new restaurant Snug Harbor. So much so, they are already making plans to expand their business.

“We’re just glad to be going forward,” Mr. Ruland said. “We have a great team.”

Snug Harbor, their open-air, outdoor restaurant offers diners an alternative option in a town full of competition. Their over-the-water dining with an expansive view of the bay provides a relaxable experience tucked in the corner of Old San Carlos Boulevard near Bayside Park.

Mr. Ruland said they recently received approval to put fishing docks alongside the bay side of the property, to allow fishing boats to drop off their catches and unload them at the restaurant and for delivery to other neighboring businesses. He hopes the docks will be a welcome sight to customers who may enjoy watching the fishermen in action.

“People can see real fish coming off the boat,” Ruland said.

Those visiting the restaurant may notice construction nearby for a new sea wall, which Ruland expects to be finished this month. The restaurant shares property with the Marina Village at Snug Harbor condominiums as well as Fort Myers Beach Sea and Sun Rentals, the boat and kayak rental company.

The Rulands worked at the original Snug Harbor in the 1980’s. The Rulands eventually opened up his own businesses, including The Fish Monger Restaurant and The Fish Camp.

The Rulands have taken on new business partners in Peter Ennis and John Shields (a former co-worker from the original Snug Harbor) to open up their new restaurant and to see that it is a success.

They get their shrimp from the locally-based Erickson & Jensen.

The restaurant owners pride themselves on their fresh fish offerings. While stone crab season has been off to a slow start due to the weather, Ruland said he expects it to pick up this month. He hopes to have a stone crab festival next year, to help educate the public about the sustainable resource.

The most popular items on the menu are the grouper and snapper. Jeff Rizzo, the restaurant’s chef, said local fishermen provide other catches which are turned into Snug Harbor specials. Those specials vary and can include golden tilefish, amberjack, black fin tuna, swordfish and barracuda.

The menu includes oysters, hamburgers, steaks, mahi mahi sandwiches, reuben sandwiches and salads.

With the slowdown in tourism earlier in the year due to the pandemic and closures on the beach, the owners lost a couple months of business and a chance to build up their name as planned.

“A lot of people don’t know we’re here yet,” Mr. Ruland said.

For the thirsty, Wednesdays is “Snug Day” with the first drink free if you are wearing a Snug Harbor shirt. There are lunch and dinner specials. Happy hour is 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Friday.

Snug Harbor is opened from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.