Brien Spina, owner of the Off the Hook Comedy Club on Marco Island. / File photo
Comedy lovers will have to wait at least another year for the sprawling Southwest Florida Performing Arts Center in Bonita Springs, the club’s owner said this week. But in the meantime, Brien Spina is moving his Marco Island comedy club to Gulf Coast Town Center.
Owner Spina plans to close his Off the Hook Comedy Club at Marco’s Captain Brien’s Seafood and Raw Bar on July 14. He’ll re-open it July 17 at House of Brewz Taps and Tapas microbrewery at the South Fort Myers mall off Alico Road in South Fort Myers.
Plans are still moving ahead for his Bonita performing arts center, though.
Spina hopes to get permits from Bonita Springs any day now. Once that happens, construction crews will break ground on the 27,000-square-foot complex on Bonita Beach Road.
“There’s nothing I can do,” Spina said about the project delays. “There’s going to be a 12-month buildout, and we haven’t even started.”
When it’s finished, the complex will be Bonita’s second performing-arts center. The Center for the Arts Bonita Springs opened its own complex, The Center for the Performing Arts, in January. It’s a few miles west of Spina’s project.
Spina’s center was originally set to open that same month, but permitting and design delays pushed that back to this summer. Now Spina says the center won’t open until at least summer 2015.
“It’s been a nightmare,” Spina says. “But we’re moving forward. It gets delayed and it gets more delayed. It’s just one thing after another.”
Located at the intersection of Bonita Beach Road and Imperial Parkway, the complex will include a dinner theater, two restaurants and a Spanish-style sangria bar with a sangria waterfall cascading from the 40-foot ceiling. It will host nationally known comedians, bands, musicals, dancers and other acts.
Spina is spending more than a million dollars to expand a closed Eckerd drug store into a 650-seat dinner theater.
Meanwhile, the owner of Captain Brien’s Seafood and Raw Bar plans to convert the vacated comedy club into a live-music and karaoke venue.
J.J. Mrozinski said he’s been talking about the conversion since October, and he gave Spina a 40-day notice of the change on June 13. Spina told him Monday that he wouldn’t be staying at the Marco restaurant.
“We’re taking the restaurant in a different direction,” Mrozinski said. That includes a new name, new menu items and more to be announced in August.
Off the Hook Comedy Club has attracted top-name comedy talent to Marco Island, and Spina says his new location will do the same. Upcoming comedians include Eddie Griffin and Bryan Callen of “The Hangover.”
The new Off The Hook Comedy Club will have comedy shows every Thursday through Sunday. For more information, visit OffTheHookComedy.com.
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