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Liki Tiki brings BBQ to the beach
December 12, 2018

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The beach's only barbecue restaurant is already generating a buzz.

"It's been crazy. Yesterday was our eighth day, so I did a little analysis. We've served 6,000 people in eight days," said owner Gordon Stojkoski.

Guests have taken to the building's open concept.

Underneath a large tiki hut, the 360-degree bar wraps around the front and side of the building.

All the windows and doors are open to the sea breeze, and the bar is lined with 80 barstools, some of which sit right next to the sidewalk on Estero Boulevard.

The massive bar has a menu to match, with 70 craft beers and 50 tequilas, and the only pool table on the beach, according to Stojkoski.

"He saved that building. He opened it up, put those windows in, and that tiki hut was just a genius idea," said Tanya Reed, who works next door at Sunny Beach Vacation Rentals.

The building previously housed the short-lived Mangia Mangia restaurant at the end of 2017, and has sat empty all year.

"There were no windows in the front, and the ceilings are not that high anyway, so it was just like a dungeon when you walked in there," said Reed.

"I like the outdoor feeling. This is what the beach needs," said local resident Bill Genck, while having a beer at the open-air bar with his wife and brother.

A few stools down, Andy Spring took a quick beer break on the sidewalk.

"I'm on a bike ride, so I just stopped to have a beer," he said, remarking that it was reasonably priced.

"It's got a beachy feel," he said of the bar.

"The tiki is a huge hit. That was probably the thing that put us on the map," said Stojkoski.

He opened his first bar in New Jersey when he was 19, using a liquor license under his father's name, he said.

"I just never went back. That's all I've been doing my whole life," he said.

Originally from the Cleveland area, he counted scores of restaurants and nightclubs that he's operated in Ohio.

He currently owns two venues in Naples: Aqua, a seafood and steak restaurant on Fifth Avenue, and Old Naples All American sports bar.

He's brought some of his kitchen staff from Aqua to operate the back-of-house at Liki Tiki.

"It's traditional barbecue. We're braising all the meats for six to seven hours, which means they just fall apart," he said.

All the favorites are there on the menu, like brisket, ribs, mac and cheese, cornbread, and even classic root beer floats.

Stojkoski brought something else from Naples, too: key lime pie from Randy's Fishmarket, a local favorite.

He's worked hard to cover all the bases.

The restaurant opens at 7 a.m. for breakfast, and stays open until 2 a.m.

That makes it popular with the local service industry crowd, who come by for after-work drinks and food from the late-night menu, Stojkoski said.

His own team is large for a newly opened venue, with nearly 40 employees already.

Live music goes on every day from 5-8 p.m., and happy hour runs from 4-7 p.m.

Look out for a grand opening party soon.

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Regular Size Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer