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‘A janky dive bar, straight up’

The Dek is celebrating its 15th anniversary in downtown Cape Coral

May 31, 2019
By KATIE EGAN (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The Dek's original owner purchased the restaurant in 2004 so his wife could come down to Florida and retire.

However, they soon realized that owning and running a bar was no small task.

This year, The Dek celebrates 15 years in business, and it's still in the family; only now it's owned by the couple's daughter, Betty Davis.

Article Photos

KATIE?EGAN

The Dek at 4704 S.E. 15th Terrace in South Cape.

"That's why me and my brother moved down here, to help them out and then we kind of took over," she said.

Before taking the reins in 2007, Davis worked for a long time at a Bob Evans restaurant in Ohio.

When she first took over at The Dek, she started cleaning the bar, then she was a cook and "learned all there is to do here." There's just one thing she hasn't mastered yet, and that's bartending.

"My brother was a bartender and my husband is a bar back, so between the three of us, we can cover whatever."

Davis' favorite thing to do at the restaurant is The Dek's annual events.

When she and her husband took over, they tried a few different ones and kept the ones that stuck and made them an annual occurrence.

"It's been about five or six years now since we started doing that," Davis said. "Our Fantasy Fest party is really popular. And people know about it."

The Dek also features things like an Anything But Clothes (ABC) party and a toga party.

Davis also likes hosting a handful of charity events each year. She also makes the flyers and posters and plan the events.

Davis used to plan activities for a campground up north, so she is no stranger to event planning.

"My mom is an activity director," she said. "She's always been at nursing homes and stuff, so I'm just kind of into that."

One of the hardest events to plan is a Memorial Day event for the Miles of Smiles Foundation.

"It's a lot of work to put into it," she said. "Because our bartenders go around to local places to get donations."

The Dek donates liquor, there's a silent auction and dunk tanks.

There's also a pajama party on Christmas Eve.

"People put their kids to bed and they come out," Davis said. This past Christmas, The Dek raised about $4,000 for the Cape Coral Caring Center as part of its holiday activities.

For the past seven or eight years, The Dek has raffled off Dek gift cards and T-shirts to its customers to raise money to feed families for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It's safe to say that Davis likes giving back and she's made it a Dek tradition.

Before it was The Dek, the building at 4704 S.E. 15th Ave. used to be known as Spooners. It was a buffet-style restaurant and it didn't have a bar. Davis's parents installed that when they took over in 2004.

She isn't sure when her parents originally purchased it, but she knows it was in November of that year. This November, when winter visitors return, The Dek will host its 15-year anniversary party.

Davis attributes some of the The Dek's long-term success to a 25-cent menu her parents started. Last year, she raised the price slightly to 50 cents - but it's still a huge draw.

She also explained that The Dek's success comes down to good old-fashioned customer service.

Davis used a steak night special as an example.

"My dad was really big on this," she said. "My dad used to always be like, 'Well, we have steaks back there.' If a guy comes in on Tuesday and wants one, we'll take care of you."

"It's too busy now to do that because it gets out of control, but that's kind of what we built this on," she said. "We know a lot of our customers."

In fact, Davis has known most of The Dek's customers since she started 12 years ago.

"That's huge around here, especially in the summertime," she said. "A lot of places are seasonal, and we're not really. We take a hit in the summer, but I don't cut my staff or anything like that."

In fact, Davis said, the newest staff member has been at The Dek for three years, "which is crazy in this business."

"We have a huge Dek family," she said. "And that's important to me."

"We're just all adults who are trying to run a business together."

While many think of the Dek as a "locals bar," it's really just a fun place to hang out and be yourself.

The Dek is a place for locals-and visitors-to go and not feel out of place.

"I have a lot of people, especially snowbirds, who say that they like coming here because they feel like they're home here," she said. "A lot of people say that to me, that they feel comfortable here; they don't feel like they're being judged."

The bartenders have been at The Dek for a long time, and they know most of the regulars who come in. When a new person sits at their bar, they greet them right away and make them feel welcome.

There is nothing overly special about The Dek when you walk inside. Christmas lights hang from the ceiling, there are an appropriate amount of neon signs for a dive bar and the walls are painted bright blue. It's airy and open, like a dive bar should be.

The outside bar top features historical treasures like first editions of The Cape Coral Breeze, and foreign currency. It was her stepmom's idea. Davis thinks her parents found them in a box in a house they were renting. Or they may have spotted them when they bought The Dek. Davis isn't sure where the trinkets came from.

Like the bygone artifacts that line its outside bar top, The Dek is solidifying its place in Cape Coral history.

"This is a janky dive bar, straight up," Davis said. "We embrace our jankiness."

And that's how it should stay.

 
 
 

 

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