Owners of The Gathering Place in Fort Myers return with new business venture

Tony Clark and Shawn Leiva announce plans to open Shawn and Tony's Kitchen in Fort Myers where their Gathering Place used to be.

Robyn George
Fort Myers News-Press

When The Gathering Place closed its doors for good on Feb. 25, co-owner Tony Clark took to social media and promised to “come back stronger and better.”

He kept his word Tuesday, making another announcement from the Beacon Boulevard restaurant.

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“I’ve got an update,” said Clark, who co-owned The Gathering Place with Shawn Leiva for nine years. “On March 20, Shawn and I are going to be opening up Shawn and Tony’s Kitchen and it’s going to be just this counter and those two little side tables by the artisan wall that’s over there.”

The new restaurant will be a smaller operation at the same 8359 Beacon Blvd. location.

“We just had to kind of downsize a little bit,” Clark said. “Shawn and I just had to just get back to us for a moment in time.”

Prior to closing on the 25th, Clark posted a video on Facebook in January, stating he would not be signing a new lease after The Gathering Place’s rent was increasing by about 400 percent.

Shawn and Tony's Kitchen will take over the former space occupied by The Gathering Place in Fort Myers.

Less than two months later, the restaurant closed.

But those lease issues now seem to be resolved.

“They were pretty good about coming up with a good agreement, so we are all right with all that,” said Clark. "The building management was pretty good about all this.”

In the meantime, the menu will look familiar to The Gathering Place's loyal customers.

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“There will still be bakery stuff,” Clark said. “We'll have biscuits and gravy every morning. .. Pretty much the same menu. There will be some modifications to it. … We will be making up some wonderful food.”

The owners will be getting things ready in the next two weeks and encourage customers to drop by and grab some signs and shirts as they downsize and reorganize.

“You’re more than welcome to come in and take it,” said Clark, referring to items stacked on a table in the dining room.

Shawn and Tony's Kitchen will have these two tables and the counter previously used by The Gathering Place in Fort Myers.

Clark also said he would be changing the name on the Facebook page from The Gathering Place to Shawn and Tony’s Kitchen.

“We just dropped the DBA of The Gathering Place,” he said.

The Gathering Place originally opened at 8359 Beacon Blvd. in January 2014 in what was the nurses’ station of a nursing home turned business park. It quickly built a loyal following thanks to a scratch-made Latin and American menu, low prices and an all-are-welcoming feel.

A second Gathering Place opened on the north side of The Butterfly Estates in 2016 but closed in the summer of 2017 after less than a year.

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Robyn George is a Community Content Editor and food writer for The Fort Myers News-Press. Send scoops, deals and news to for editorial consideration.