Homeowners and business owners are still facing the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. In an interview with Jay Johnson, a third-generation restaurateur, we gained insight into the effects of the hurricane. Jay owns Baba’s Roadhouse in Cape Coral while his father owns Matlacha’s iconic Baa’s Bar. Jay described his experience after the storm, mentioning the detours and challenges he faced to reach his various properties.
Upon arriving at Baba’s house, Jay noticed the extensive damages. The roof, kitchen, and walls were all affected. During this time, he received a call from Carol Dover, the president of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, checking in on their situation. Carol connected Jay with Dane Eagle, the director of the Department of Commerce, who was in Matlacha and needed assistance contacting his mother. Jay volunteered to visit her.
Jay went to Matlacha and was taken by Dane Eagle’s mother on a boat to Pine Island. The devastation caused by the hurricane was evident everywhere they looked. Jay described scenes of destruction, such as a tiki piece lying on the ground and the Hooked Restaurant in disrepair. He also mentioned the outpouring of support for Bart’s Bar, a beloved establishment in the area.
The community’s response to the hurricane was remarkable. People stopped Jay and his father on the streets, asking about the status of Bart’s house and expressing their fondness for the place. A Facebook page dedicated to Bart’s memories was filled with daily posts and photos from around the world. Jay highlighted the strength and spirit of Pine Island’s residents, who took it upon themselves to clear the roads and start rebuilding.
As the rebuilding process continues in Southwest Florida, local businesses are slowly finding their footing and moving forward. Karen Moore, a contributing partner at WGCU and publisher of SWFL Business Today, emphasized the resilience of the community and their determination to overcome the impact of Hurricane Ian.