ISLES OF CAPRI
A big sailboat is hoisted away after Hurricane Ian brought it inches away from a restaurant. Surprisingly, the moment is bittersweet for the restaurant’s owners on the Isle of Capri. The boat became a symbol that attracted customers.
It is an unlikely love story between a boat and the people of the Isles of Capri. Since the hurricane, a sailboat blocked part of the beautiful waterside view at Capri Fish House.
At first, it was an unpleasant reminder that turned into a symbol of the restaurant’s resilience and adaptability.
During the hurricane, the Capri Fish House’s outdoor dining area was underwater. The next day, “Panic. Oh, no, not again,” said Michael Castellano, the Capri Fish House owner. “A lot of mud. A lot of water damage. Bar inside all gets thrown up against the other side. Sand ripped away.”
The damage meant an indefinite amount of time without any money coming in for owners Theresa and Michael Castellano.
Another unpleasant surprise, their old decrepit sailboat was washed inches from the outdoor dining area.
“And at the very end of the storm, the rope snapped, and she found her way home, and she had nothing as you can see, it went through the screen, the nose went through the screen,” said Michael Castellano.
“I hated it,” said Theresa Castellano.
Then, something magical happened. “So immediately after, my daughter said, ‘wow, we have to put lights on this. This is really cool.’ So she went, and she put lights on it,” said Theresa.
When people returned to the restaurant six weeks after the storm, they left messages right on the boat like, “We survived lunch at Capri after Ian,” and, “F.U Ian.”
“I have all kinds of pictures of the damage and the boat, and it’s really cool. You know, it became an attraction,” Theresa said.
Wednesday was bittersweet for the Castellanos. Collier County came to haul the restaurant’s new landmark away.
“It’s become a kind of a tourist [attraction]. People are talking about it. So as far as I’m concerned, I wish it could stay,” said Michael.
“We got used to it. We love it. Now we love it,” said Theresa.
The Castellanos hope to get the parts of that boat back with all the funny and sweet messages left by customers.
While the boat may have sailed away, it’ll always be anchored in their hearts at the Capri Fish House.