Bortell’s Lounge poised for a comeback

Bortell’s Lounge poised for a comeback
The Shoreline Builders’ permit box was affixed to the Bortell’s building last week. - Submitted | Doug Copeland

ANNA MARIA – Extensive renovations will soon take place at Bortell’s Lounge and the popular Anna Maria watering hole is expected to reopen as early as June.

Located at 10002 Gulf Drive, Bortell’s Lounge closed after its husband and wife owners, Steve Rose and Marci Wilhelm, were involved in a plane crash in South Carolina in 2018. Wilhelm was seriously injured in the crash and the pilot and co-pilot were killed when the private jet they were flying in went off the runaway and crashed after landing.

“We’re both getting back to normal, as normal as we can. We would have been open a long time ago but the plane crash took us out of the game for a year. And right after that my dad got brain cancer and we brought him back to the Island and put everything else on hold,” Rose said when speaking by phone on Sunday.

Rose said he was out of town last week and didn’t know the Shoreline Builders’ permit box had been affixed to the building until several friends texted him about it. Security fencing was also installed last week.

Security fencing is now in place in preparation for the pending renovations. – Submitted | Doug Copeland

“We’re doing a full renovation of the building. It had not been renovated in 40 years. We needed electrical, plumbing and a new roof. I like to say we needed one of everything and two of some things. The I’s are dotted, the T’s are crossed and the permits are filtering in. Hopefully, we’ll be open in four to four-and-a-half months. We’re shooting for June,” Rose said.

“The day we shut it down, we yanked out the memorabilia and old stuff that’s been hanging on the walls for 40 years. We got it to an offsite location and secured it. We’ll bring a lot of that stuff back,” he explained.

Rose said Bortell’s occasionally opened for customer appreciation days during the extended temporary closure.

“We’d just fling open the doors and serve drinks, but I can’t even remember the last time we did that,” he said.

“We’re doing a top-quality job and it’ll look great when it’s done,” Rose said, noting there will be at least one significant addition.

“I’m putting a kitchen in, but I don’t know what we’re doing with the kitchen yet. When you spend this kind of money on a rebuild you do it for best possible use – so best possible use does have a kitchen,” he said. “The only food we served since we owned it was the free hot dogs during football on Sundays, and that will continue.”

Bortell’s will also continue the no-smoking policy implemented in 2015.

“That worked out really well for us,” Rose said.

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