Fort Myers small businesses face ‘a lot of work to be done’ after Hurricane Ian: Restaurateur


After Fort Myers Beach restaurateur Franco Russo lost his establishments to the deadly and destructive Hurricane Ian, he’s left guessing how long a full recovery will take.

“I’ve heard some people say five [years] and I’ve heard some people say two,” Russo told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney Wednesday. “There’s definitely a lot of work to be done and a lot of cleanup, a lot of discussion and a lot of rebuilding.”

Hurricane Ian, which hit Southwest Florida as a Category 4 storm, left more than 100 people dead and caused at least $40 billion worth of damage, insurance companies estimate.

Russo explained on “Varney & Co.” that he’s been unable to return to his restaurants – Junkanoo Beach, Fresh Catch Bistro, and Two Meatballs in the Kitchen – and actually assess the damage as search and rescue efforts continue.


“We got back on Friday, but we are not allowed on Fort Myers Beach yet,” Russo said. “Residents and business owners are not allowed because they’re actually still conducting search and rescue missions.”

Knowing his businesses and employees face physical, emotional and financial recovery, Russo noted he hasn’t been able to put together a cleanup plan, yet.

“I’m still trying to make sure that my 75-plus employees that were there at Junkanoo and at Fresh Catch Bistro are okay,” Russo said. “I’m trying to do anything that I can for them and my community.”

The business owner admitted he’s out a great deal of money following the hurricane, and has since started discussions with the insurance company on disaster relief options.

“They are sending their people down to take a look at the damage and hopefully they’re going to be able to help,” Russo said. “We have flood insurance. We have wind insurance. So hopefully those are able to help.”

Paul Walsh, the general manager of, previously joined FOX Weather to break down the massive financial losses expected after Hurricane Ian tore across Florida before making its way to the South Carolina coast.

“The initial estimates are that insured losses will be up to $47 billion –  those are insured losses. And I think it’s also important to point out that many people that you’re seeing that are flooded don’t have flood insurance,” Walsh said. 

“I’ve seen estimates that are saying that the tourism industry is likely to have about an $8 billion hit, just from the shutdown that we’ve been seeing over the past week.”


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