FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   

Contact:            John Yarbrough, Lee County Parks & Recreation, (239) 461-7410
           Brian Wetzel, Flip Flops Café, 765-6795


FORT MYERS, Fla. (August 29, 2002) – Starting this weekend, a family oriented concession and gift shop called Flip Flops Café will be opening at Bowditch Point Regional Park on the northern tip of Estero Island (Fort Myers Beach).

The building housing the operation is adjacent to the restrooms at the entrance to the park and formerly was used for storage.  Flip Flops Café will use half the building and operate a novelties and rental shop in the other half.  The operator, Brian Wetzel, has a five-year contract with Lee County Parks & Recreation to run the facility.

While the concession will be open this weekend, the official grand opening is Monday (Sep. 2).  Hours are from sunrise to sunset.

Flip Flops will have an outdoor seating area with a tropical motif of paintings, wood carvings and crafts by local artists.  In addition to prepared food, it also will sell “grill packages” for visitors who want to use the park’s grills to prepare their own meals.

Items to be sold at the café and gift shop include: Hamburgers, hotdogs, sandwiches, chips, candy, soft drinks, coffee, breakfast sandwiches, ice cream, charcoal, uncooked food for grilling, sand toys, t-shirts, jewelry, bait, ice, fishing supplies, sunscreen, souvenirs and cameras.

Items for rent include: Beach chairs, kayaks, games (bean bags, horseshoes), fishing poles, rafts and umbrellas.

Flip Flops also will promote special functions such as weddings and birthday parties.

The 17-acre beach park on the north end of Estero Island fronts both the bay and the Gulf and opened in 1994.  Facilities at the park include restrooms, showers, changing rooms, picnic tables and grills, and a boardwalk to the beach.  In early 2001, the county built 68 public parking spaces at the park to promote easier access and greater use.  Park hours are from 7 a.m. to a half-hour past sunset.  The parking fee is 75-cents an hour.

Lee County’s Parks & Recreation Department maintains and operates 3,500 acres of developed park land, 14 centers, 9 pools, five boat ramps, three Gulf beach parks, one lakefront beach, 76 beach accesses, 60 tennis courts, 73 ballfields, and 13 preserves.  The department also manages the more than 7,500 acres of environmentally sensitive lands the county has purchased in the last five years through its Conservation 2020 Program.  Its fiscal year 2002 operating budget is $16.2 million.

The Parks System gained national accreditation last year and is a 2002 National Gold Medal Award Finalist.