Punta Gorda restaurant says construction hurting business at Fishermen’s Village

A local restaurant at Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda says a construction site blocking a walkway to the establishment is bad for business and poses a danger to customers.

It was another day in paradise for husband and wife Randy and Denise Witman at Fishermen’s Village Friday, but they reached a roadblock before making it to Harpoon Harry’s restaurant at the end of the pier.

“We like it a lot. We enjoy it,” Randy said. “Having been back here before, we are pretty familiar with that. We had to go a roundabout way.”

The ramp connecting the covered shops to Harpoon Harry’s is now gone, as crews construct a new restaurant.

Visitors can take a detour using the smaller ramp, leading guests to walk outside to the restaurant.

But Harpoon Harry’s said it creates challenges for guests with physical disabilities and exposes guests to rainy weather.

“We have customers that have been coming here for 25 years,” said Krystne Ramirez, a bartender at the restaurant. “And we’re just concerned of how they are going to get through.”

Fishermen’s Village blames the delayed construction project on getting a new ramp in place on the restaurant.

Witman said he would like to have known about the closure prior to coming face-to-face with a fence.

“Maybe a sign to acknowledge that this would be the way to come down through,” Witman said.

Harpoon Harry’s wants to see the improvements finished.

“We are just taking it day-by-day and doing the best we can do,” Ramirez said.

Fishermen’s Village said it doesn’t have an exact timeline on the completion for construction, but it hopes to complete as much as possible before winter.

The management said in an email statement:

“Fisherman’s Village is in the midst of investing more money into the property as it has continually done since acquiring it in 2012. The ramp closure, which was public knowledge and fully permitted, is one small part of a larger project that will result in an updated, more expansive and user friendly experience for locals and out of town visitors alike. We are diligently proceeding with all aspects of construction necessary to achieve the desired improvements and cannot comment on the timing of any one aspect as we are moving expeditiously to complete as much as possible before the winter high season. The original plans included relocating certain storage area currently maintained in a dilapidated shed to another part of the property a few feet away, demolition of the shed and constructing a ramp along the north wall of The Pier Restaurant in order to provide additional access throughout the property. The very same tenant which complains about the removal of the prior ramp (and who was also responsible for the maintenance of the run-down shed) filed an injunction with the court to prevent Fishermen’s Village from removing the shed in installing a new ramp. That legal process has halted the installation of the new ramp until such time as the court makes a final ruling on the tenant’s injunction request.”

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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