Area residents looking to get a taste of what Cape Coral's downtown has to offer will have a special opportunity this summer as a dozen venues kick off the South Cape Summer Pub Crawl.
Coordinated by an unofficial coalition of South Cape bars and restaurants, the Summer Pub Crawl will open Saturday and continue through Sept. 3, affording ample opportunity to discover the vast range of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues in and around the city's first business district.
"What is super exciting about this is the bar owners and operators getting together to put this on," said Lynn Pippenger, general manager and operating partner with the Dixie Roadhouse, one of the participating venues. "The idea is to sample everything we (the South Cape) have to offer, to take one or two a night and to take the time to sample them all.
"There are so many great places around here," she added. "Our intent is to get our customers to discover other places in the South Cape and to get their customers to discover us."
Other participating businesses include Backstreets Sports Bar, Cruiser's Lounge, La Terraza 47, Leapin' Lizard Bar & Grille, Monkey Bar & Steakhouse, Rack-em Billiards, Ralph's Place, The Dek, Tiki Hut, Twisted Conch and Wine & Roses Italian Restaurant.
South Cape Summer Pub Crawl participants will be issued "passports" and will have two months to visit among the various venues. The first 300 people to have those passports stamped at each of the businesses will be able to trade the passport for a pub crawl T-shirt and a goodie bag packed with coupons and special offers from not only the venues visited but other South Cape establishments as well, including retailers.
Here is how you can participate:
Starting July 7 you can pick your South Cape Passport at one of these 12 establishments:
Backstreets Sports Bar 915 SE 47th Terrace 945-7555
Cruiser's Lounge 1517 SE 47th Terrace 542-5533
Dixie Roadhouse 1023 SE 47th Terrace 541-7900
La Terraza 47 1015 SE 47th Terrace 540-4747
Leapin' Lizard Bar & Grille 1719 Cape Coral Pkwy E. 542-6400
Monkey Bar & Steakhouse 1428 Lafayette Street 549-8800
Rack'em Billiards 1011 SE 47th Terrace 540-7225
Ralph's Place 1305 Cape Coral Pkwy E. 549-2040
The Dek 4704 SE 15th Avenue 542-3745
Tiki Hut Bar & Grille 1502 Miramar Street 540-8454
Twisted Conch 837 SE 47th Terrace 542-6622
Wine & Roses 1404 Cape Coral Pkwy E. 542-7177
Participants will have two months to patronize all 12 participating South Cape dining and entertainment establishments. At each location when you pay your bill, make sure your South Cape Passport gets stamped.
When your Passport has all 12 locations stamped, the first 300 people can stop by any one of the 12 participating locations to exchange your Passport for a free South Cape Summer Pub Crawl T-shirt and a goodie bag.
Offer expires: Monday. Sept. 3
"We're hoping to show all of the people in the Cape the differences and variety of entertainment and dining in the South Cape," said Denise Wood, lounge manager at Cruisers Lounge and Liquor.
Wood, along with Alan Lessard, bar manager at Dixie Roadhouse, and Magdalena Dyberg, managing member at the Tiki Hut, were the primary organizers of the pub crawl, an idea that came about as a way to introduce year-round residents to venues they may not know about or haven't visited in a while.
Dyberg took a similar view.
"We think it's a good idea for all the bar owners in the South Cape to get together and show we have something fun to do in the Cape," she said. "This town is full of music and bars, and I think it's good to show people, and to maybe try a place you haven't tried before.
"We want to show how much fun they can have in the South Cape and the variety the South Cape has to offer - that you have everything from rock and roll, country, to Jimmy Buffet type music; that you can do fine dining with music, you can do bar eating, you can dine indoors or out, and there' s more live entertainment here than in most towns."
Both Cruisers, the Cape's first licensed liquor store, and the Tiki Hut, which is under new ownership, have undergone some major renovations and refurbishment since late last year.
At Cruisers, the lounge expanded into what was the liquor store, they added a second bar and also expanded the entertainment area.
"There are a lot of people who don't know it," Wood said, adding they pushed the project's completion to be done in time for a similar one-night event, the Kiwanis Best South Cape Martini Competition.
At the Tiki Hut, they refurbished not only the bar and restaurant where a new made-from-scratch menu is being offered, but the hotel and resort as well.
"People just come in and say wow," Dyberg said.
And getting people in the door for the first time is what it's all about, said Jeff Radke, owner of Wine & Roses and a regular participant - and people's choice winner - in the Best South Cape Martini Competition.
"Possibly new customers that wouldn't normally come in here or know that we are here," Radke said when asked why his establishment will take part in the new initiative. "As many people as you can get through the door that normally don't see you is a better chance of gaining a customer."
People who come in tend to return, he added.
"I think if they get inside and see how elegant the restaurant is, and how extensive the dinner and wine menus are, I don't think it's hard getting them back, it's just hard getting them in the first time," Radke said.
Goodie bag additions for things such as specials, BOGOS and free admissions were ongoing at press time but organizers promise good value that won't be limited to the first 300 people to make the rounds; enjoy good food, drink and entertainment; and turn in their South Cape Summer Pub Crawl passports.
"We've invited all the South Cape businesses to put in a coupon or some enticement to get people to visit," said Pippenger. "They can still turn it (a passport) in and get all those coupons to explore the South Cape."