EDITOR’S NOTE, JUNE 11, 2016: I permanently terminated my working relationship Robert Anderson on March 12, 2016. This was just a few weeks after the Fort Myers Independent began publishing content.
The Gateway Sun will continue to operate pretty much as-is.
But just about everything else is changing for my family. We’re moving to Mirror Lakes at the end of February, pulling our children from Gateway Charter, expanding Florida Food Runner to Lehigh Acres and teaming up with Robert Anderson to launch the Fort Myers Independent.
Food Runner, for those who are unfamiliar, is my restaurant delivery service. We already service the area of Lehigh that’s west of Gunnery, but the rest of the city has a population about 8 times larger than Gateway and has 20 times the number of businesses. And most importantly: little competition.
The first week in our food delivery business (when we were actually called Gateway Food Runner) we had 5 orders.
Five deliveries. Total. The whole week.
We also went through terrible turnover with drivers in the early days because we didn’t have many deliveries for them to do. I’m envisioning Lehigh to be the same, so rather than go through a driver carousel I’m just going to staff out Gateway and handle Lehigh myself. We’ve chosen a home near the Mirror Lakes Golf Club that’s about 5 seconds from Homestead and 5 minutes from the main cluster of restaurants in the town. The area we’re living in, to be honest, is about as nice as Gateway.
For those who criticized me on the Sun‘s Facebook page for complaining about Gateway Charter but yet still sending my kids there, there’s still some hope for you to call me a hypocrite. While our two youngest children will have enough good middle school options that I’m not worried, our 10th grader might have to stay where he is. We’ve declined seats at Gateway Charter and enrolled all 3 in Lee Schools for next year, but the high school choices we listed were Riverdale and Lehigh Senior. If he gets assigned to Dunbar or East Lee County he’ll probably be headed back to Gateway Charter. But don’t say we didn’t try.
Our oldest child was already pulled from Gateway Charter and is currently getting her cosmetology license at Fort Myers Technical College while also completing her 3 remaining classes for her Florida high school diploma at Lee Virtual. She’ll graduate high school at 17 while also being a licensed cosmetologist, and ready to work. She’s a natural, and after a few years she’ll be able to call her own shot.
Meanwhile, the Fort Myers Independent is a project being spearheaded by Lehigh Acres Gazette publisher Robert Anderson and myself. Robert is handling the web presence, while we’ll both be playing a vital role in generating content.
All you need to know about Robert is that he once noticed that the city of Lehigh Acres had never trademarked their official logo, so he trademarked it for himself. That kind of outside the box rabble-rousing is something Fort Myers could use.
While we in Gateway have the twice-monthly episode of the Muppet Show featuring the GSCDD Board of Supervisors, Robert is having to cover the out of control Lehigh Acres Fire Department who are swallowing up as many of the resident’s dollars as humanly possible.
The Independent website is under construction, and we anticipate we’ll start posting original content in about 30 days from now.
We’ll have a News Hotline, we’ll be recruiting correspondents, and have a far more official feel than the Sun does.
You’re invited to like the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/fmindependent
But once again, we aren’t planning on actually writing articles until early March.
So what happens to the Sun? Well it has commercial value, so it’s not going anywhere. It has been a regular and important source of business for Florida Food Runner.
Besides, will I ever move back to Gateway? I really think so.
Our rent will be $425 cheaper in Mirror Lakes, but that’s not why we’re doing this. The amount of extra driving will offset most of that anyway. We’ll still have a house with a pool, lanai, two living rooms, etc. We’ll be fine.
Food Runner is ready to grow. Fort Myers has a very large competitor that’s been in business for 8-years and is deeply entrenched. While we’ve never actually spoken to each other, we have stayed out of each other’s way and respected what the other is doing. Fort Myers is also filled with restaurants that have been burned by RDS companies fleeing town with their money and we’ve found it difficult to sign up restaurants since we only have a 1-year track record.
On the other hand, Lehigh is untapped, and much larger than Gateway. There’s a guy operating in town who’ll pick up McDonald’s for you, but that’s about it. Nothing that approaches what we can offer the community.
The trade-off in keeping the Sun open is that I have to be less opinionated about the goings on. The GSCDD won’t be representing me personally, for example, but I can still point out the questionable things they do.
I’ve already tried my hand and writing on a purely factual basis with no personal slant. I can make it work. And I promise I’ll improve at it the more I write.
Gateway is still going to be my primary source of revenue so I still want this town to thrive and I still need to pay close attention. And it’s not just from Food Runner, but my wife earns her living in Gateway, too.
I don’t know for a fact, but I think we’ll be back once Food Runner in Lehigh can stand on its own. I flat-out told the homeowner in Mirror Lakes to only expect us to rent for 1 year.
We’ll see what happens.
I do expect a few shots at me on Facebook for “not even living in Gateway” but this is the best path forward for my family. For all those who look down on me … I’d be careful standing on your balcony.
(Nice tie-in to the pic, yeah?)
Have a great weekend everyone. Thank you for continuing to read the Gateway Sun, and once again be sure to “like” the Independent’s FB page at: