In this Article:
South Cape Coral – 33904 – Lee County (downtown Cape Coral)
The South Cape Entertainment District has always been a popular Cape Coral nightlife hotspot in Southwest Florida, but now with more reasons than ever to make this area your Friday and Saturday night destination. As of March 30th, Cape Coral city council has officially approved a long-awaited ordinance allowing South Cape bars to remain open until 4am on Friday and Saturday nights, an opportunity previously only encountered in a few select cities around the United States, namely large cities like New York, Chicago, and Miami.
The extended hours are part of a one-year pilot program in the city of Cape Coral, which allows the extended hours only for bars who apply for an official permit to do so. The issue of the extended hours has been a topic of hot debate in Cape Coral for quite some time, and there are still some opponents to the ordinance, arguing that the new hours will increase crime rates, produce loud noise, and make the roads in the area less safe. The one-year pilot program gives the South Cape bars a chance to show Cape Coral residents that the ordinance will produce more advantages than disadvantages, and will be reevaluated once again by city council members in April of 2016.
So what are the advantages of such a program in Cape Coral? The most obvious benefit is the entertainment value for current Cape Coral residents – with four additional hours added to the weekend bar scene, the possibilities are endless. But more importantly, supporters of the ordinance argue that it will be incredibly beneficial for Cape Coral as a whole, especially in terms of commerce and growth. Because no nearby cities have similar extended bar hours, including the neighboring city of Fort Myers, often considered one of the biggest “party cities” in Florida, the ordinance really distinguishes Cape Coral from its competition. With the new ordinance now in place, it’s expected that visitors will come from all over the state to check out Cape Coral, making it the newest hotspot for weekend trips and excursions.
Although the ordinance was made official at the end of March, the few bars who applied for permits in advance chose not to extend their hours for an additional two weeks in preparation. Understandably, the added hours require extra staff and extra security, and bar owners and managers wanted to be prepared. In the month and a half since the South Cape bars changed their hours, owners have reported standing room only crowds, lines of people waiting to get in, and large increases in revenue. These same bar owners report an increase in their daytime and evening crowds as well, with one such manager even referring to the ordinance as a “game changer” in terms of their daily business. With such immediate success reported for various establishments in the area, it should come as no surprise that many others are following suit and applying for permits of their own.
A recent article on news-press.com featuring long range plans and a recent economic market watch report on Lee County, Florida, had this to say about the recent changes in Cape Coral:
“Cape Coral Downtown Matures: A recent decision by the city council to allow bars to stay open until 4 a.m. is paying off, and three weeks ago the city held a public meeting on ideas for redeveloping the area around Four Freedoms Park on Bimini Basin. The general idea is to create a space in downtown that includes places to live, eat and play, all within walking distance.
Cape Coral may be the place to be in 2030.”
Whether or not you support the city council ordinance to allow bars to stay open till 4am in Cape Coral, one thing is for sure: the decision has certainly attracted a lot of attention and enthusiasm for a city once nicknamed “Cape Coma.” And while we won’t understand the true impact or future of such an ordinance in Cape Coral until it is reexamined close to a year from now, Cape Coral is well on its way to establishing itself as “the” location in Florida to enjoy nighttime entertainment.