San Carlos Park, FL
LEE COUNTY — It’s a bar that shows children’s cartoons on its televisions, not sports. And you won’t find any Captain Morgan but you will find Cap’n Crunch.
The recently opened the Dude Cereal and Energy Bar at Gulf Coast Town Center in south Lee County does not stock alcohol but does serve milk.
Dude owners Jason Smith and Rick Vaske were looking for a way to start a T-shirt business but wanted more than just T-shirts.
Vaske said they settled on cereal because “everyone loves cereal.”
The Dude, named after the main character in the 1998 movie “The Big Lebowski,” offers 30 types of cereal.
One-half cup of any of the five toppings cost 79 cents each. They are bananas, strawberries, blueberries, marshmallows and chocolate syrup.
A small bowl costs $2.49, medium is $3.49 and an all-you-can-eat bowls runs $5.99.
“We decided to sell all the sugary cereal that mom doesn’t like to buy, so it is more of a treat for the kids,” Vaske said.
The most popular cereal is Count Chocula, with Cookie Crisps following in close second, they said.
Walking into the Dude, customers may feel like they’re walking into a home. There’s a vibe of an old-fashioned kitchen, with tables set up with red-and-white checkered tablecloths, and a long bar allows friends and family to enjoy a bowl of cereal.
For the milk, patrons open the refrigerator and help themselves.
Seven-year-old Brandon McCoy of Estero was in the Dude recently, enjoying a bowl of Apple Jacks.
“I like coming somewhere else to eat cereal,” he said.
Children enjoy the experience because it’s something new to them and are excited about it, Vaske said.
“I like the name the Dude, and had never been to a cereal place before,” said Michael McCurry, 9.
Older “kids” enjoy the bar too, Vaske said. The big surprise to Smith and Vaske was the number of high school students who have been hanging out there. If they show they student identification, they receive 20 percent off their bowl of cereal.
And students who visit the Dude between 9 and 11 a.m. Saturday receive a free bowl of cereal.
“A lot of Estero High School kids come to eat cereal as an after-school snack. One boy brought in 50 kids from school one afternoon” Vaske said.
They can eat as much cereal as they want for $6.
“We want everyone to feel welcomed at The Dude” said Vaske.
Beyond the cereal, anyone may play video games varying from Pac-Man to the Wii. Wii bowling tournaments are held every Saturday morning, giving youngsters a safe place to hang out and have fun.