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Shark Bar finds a new home

November 14, 2018
By JESSE MEADOWS ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Shark Bar is back.

The well-loved venue has found a new home on San Carlos Boulevard just down the road from its last location.

Owner Denis Karda says they quickly outgrew their first venue.

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Shark Bar & Grill is located at 19030 San Carlos Blvd, Fort Myers Beach.


"There wasn't enough space, there wasn't enough parking," she says, citing permitting and title issues as more reasons to leave.

"We couldn't close on the deal for the property. We were in contract to close that deal from Sept 2017 til July 2018.. and they were unable to clear the title, so we decided to move to a new location."

The new venue is exciting for her, because of its multiple parking lots and room for expansion.

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"We have an extraordinary opportunity with the amount of property for parking and future development," she said.

The bar will now serve liquor and wine, and feature a full menu of seafood dishes and classic bar snacks.

Chef duo Scott Deidert and Eddy Ferranti have joined the team, taking up the mantle from consultant Jim Brush, Shark Bar's first chef.

"We've been very grateful to have Jim start us up and get us going," says Karda.

Deidert and Ferranti previously worked together at the Nauti Parrot, before approaching Karda this summer about joining the team at Shark Bar.

"As a young duo, I think they can take us to places that Fort Myers Beach hasn't seen," Karda said.

The kitchen plans to stay open late, dependent upon demand. New additions to the menu will include a dish called shark eyes, a play on onion rings using pearl onions.

"Nobody else is doing that on the beach," Karda said.

The bar will also host an ongoing tasting experience called Martini Mania.

"We have 34 different martinis and we're offering a tasting journal to anybody that wants to participate. After tasting 12 different martinis that the bartenders will sign off on and date, they will receive the 13th martini free, and after tasting 24, they are awarded with an exclusive Martini Mania Challenge T-shirt."

More than 50 artists will be represented on its walls, and the bar plans to feature live music every night.

"Art, creativity, self expression, they're all very important to me. The music, again that's living art to me... and the kitchen! That's culinary art. The creativity that's coming out of my kitchen right now is just astronomical."

It was this love of art that birthed Shark Bar in October of 2017.

Karda was inspired by Chelsey Cook's vision at House of the Rising Sun, a small cocktail lounge and art gallery at 17979 San Carlos Blvd. When she saw a post online that said Cook was closing up shop, she decided to jump in.

"I walked in there and I said, this is my new baby."

Karda's own babies - four children and one grandchild - are in a small town on the Niagara River in Halton Hills, Canada, but she's focused on her second home for now.

"The focus is getting this up and running, and then when this is able to be a little toddler and walk about and be with a babysitter, then I can consider heading back north here and there."

This growth spurt has been anything but easy, as Karda has come face-to-face with the frustrating red tape of running a business.

She inherited a 16-year-old open permit for the back parking lot, and Lee County will not let her open the doors until it is resolved.

An "open permit" means work done on the premises was never inspected by the county and the permit never officially closed.

Open permits can go unnoticed for years, until a new tenant applies for a use permit, for instance, to shift their building's use from a previous business to new one, or in this case, from one restaurant to another.

That's when unresolved permits come to light, as the county checks to make sure everything is up to code.

The business owner then has to file a Limited Development Order to finish whatever work needs to be done on the property and schedule the necessary inspections.

"I have been in holding mode since I signed my contract and it's very frustrating," Karda says.

Regardless, Karda is hopeful for Shark Bar's future, and she's looking forward to a week of events that will kick off this new chapter.

On Nov 16, the festivities will begin with a ticketed event featuring seven musical acts, followed by free live music every night until Thanksgiving eve.

She's also planned themed events every month this season, including toga parties, Christmas festivities throughout December, and a "Winter Calypso Luau" on Jan 19.

There is one beloved aspect of the old venue will not be resurrected just yet.

"The new location for now is strictly indoor," Karda says. "We had some outdoor consumption at the other location, so we'll have to battle that, being that it's Florida and people want to be outside, until we get the development order to have outdoor consumption."

That feeling of being in your own backyard might have to stay inside for now, but Karda said the familiar atmosphere will stay the same.

"Our energy and our vibe is something that is not found elsewhere on the beach. We are a very tight knit team," she said.

"It's just a place where all the locals can come and have a really great environment where everybody feels welcome, everybody feels at home, and everybody feels safe."



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