Cape Coral Business Spotlight: Tubby's City Hangout
At A Glance
Years in business: 3 years (Cape Coral location)
Cape Coral resident Rick Goulet has spent over 30 years in the bar business, much of which as a bar owner.
Three years ago Goulet was at a professional crossroads as the location that was home for eleven years to his popular Tubby’s was up for lease renewal and he decided the terms of the new lease were not beneficial and considered closing the doors. After much thought, instead of closing, Goulet decided to relocate Tubby’s. After searching on Craigslist, he found a new location in Cape Coral that afforded him not only the opportunity to keep the doors open, as well as the chance to own the building.
Despite some initial apprehensions, Goulet moved forward and opened the popular “alternative lifestyle” bar on Vincennes Street in the South Cape.
While he lost some of his clientele due to the new location, he soon began attracting new clientele and quickly became a local hot spot in the budding South Cape entertainment district.
We recently sat down with Goulet to learn more about South Cape's Tubby’s City Hangout.
Can you describe your business?
Tubby’s City Hangout is a full liquor bar located in the South Cape that opened three years ago as an “alternative lifestyle” bar to cater to the local LGBT community. During the past three years, while still holding a strong LGBT clientele, Tubby’s has become more of an all-inclusive destination that provides a safe, fun environment for people of all backgrounds, cultures, and interests.
We currently have karaoke three nights a week, and have BINGO every Saturday where we give away lottery tickets to the winners of the games. We also have Games Night every Tuesday. We like to mix things up to keep things lively and fun.
What makes Tubby's City Hangout unique?
What makes Tubby’s unique is the fact it doesn’t hang on labels, rather allows people who enjoy various lifestyles to come together under one roof and enjoy the company of each other. When Tubby’s opened three years ago in Cape Coral, it was exclusively an LGBT bar. Since then, particularly over the last year, the clientele has not only increased in size, but has grown to include people from all corners of the community. It has truly become a mixing pot of our local society.
The reason for such a diverse crowd is the atmosphere that has been created at Tubby’s. People who walk in the door are immediately greeted by a friendly, non-judging crowd that creates something of a “Cheers” feel, where everybody knows your name.
How did you get into the business?
Over thirty years ago I worked in a bar in Madeira Beach, Florida. While working there I had the opportunity to purchase the business and conduct my own version of “Bar Rescue”. That was the beginning of my three plus decades of owning various bars. I originally opened Tubby’s in Fort Myers and successfully ran it there for eleven years. Due to some circumstances with our Fort Myers location, three years ago we made the decision to relocate to Cape Coral where we have been ever since. I also opened another Tubby’s location in New Orleans that was there for five years.
What do you feel has been your biggest success?
Since moving to Cape Coral, I would have to say the biggest impact on our business has been our involvement in the South Cape Trolley events.
Those events have brought more people in our doors that allow them to experience our brand of fun. Many of those who come through Tubby’s during those events return to enjoy a full night here. It has created not only more people in our business, but a more diverse crowd of people.
Over the years, we have also tried different little things that we didn’t know if they would work or not, sort of out of the box promotions. One such promotion was our Pajama Party event that we held on Christmas Eve a few years ago. In all honesty, I thought it was kind of silly. But, the response was unbelievable, and it has now become an annual staple here at Tubby’s.
What do you feel has been your biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenge is the same challenge other bars in Cape Coral have, getting people to come across the bridge. There is still that reputation of coming over here and ultimately getting pulled over by the police. While it is nowhere near the situation it was years back, people still have that stigma in their minds. However, it seems recently people are beginning to explore the other side of the bridge, and we are seeing more people from other areas like Fort Myers and South Fort Myers.
What are your future plans for Tubby's City Hangout?
As we move forward into the future, I want to bring back more live entertainment.
We tried live entertainment previously such as drag shows, but it felt like it got old. However, people have been asking, and now we are looking for new types of entertainment, as well as bringing back the drag shows in some fashion to keep it fresh and lively. We will probably begin booking live entertainment at the beginning of next season.