Monkey Bar Celebrates 12 Years of Fun, Food and Festivities

At first look, Monkey Bar—the facade painted in bright, tropical colors and the walls adorned with lots of fun and funky monkey art—might seem your stereotypical Southwest Florida beach bum joint, but its tagline—“Silly Name, Serious Food”—is no joke.

A quick look over the extensive 72-item menu reveals they know what they are doing in the kitchen.

Owner Claudia Garcia purchased the restaurant 12 years ago and hasn’t looked back—despite some bad timing. Even with her deep background in hospitality and high-end food service, no one could have predicted the economic struggles that plagued Southwest Florida for several years.

“We had a rough start,” Claudia says. “We bought the restaurant at the peak of the market, and the recession really hit us hard. Every day was a challenge. It was really, really hard, but I always came to work with a smile on my face and a good attitude.”

Claudia is no stranger to hard work and persistence. She moved to Southwest Florida from Colombia when she was just 18. She worked numerous jobs, gained valuable experience and saved her money.

“I started from the bottom. I used to clean dishes and clean houses, but I was motivated and worked my way up to management,” she says. “Eventually, I knew I was tired of making money for someone else and knew I had to try something of my own. I wanted to be my own boss. That’s how I landed here. I have no regrets. It’s been work, but it’s worth it.”

Claudia’s son Juan recently joined her in running Monkey Bar, and he now serves as the restaurant’s general manager. Born and raised in Southwest Florida, Juan earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Florida Gulf Coast University.

“Juan has been such a wonderful help,” Claudia says. “He’s so good at running things, so that means I get a little time to do everything required behind the scenes.”  

Maybe it has a “silly name,” but Monkey Bar has a great local reputation and a strong following in the Cape.

“The food is excellent,” Cape Coral resident Lynn Rosko says. “We’ve been coming here for years, and we just love it. The service is great, and the prices are so reasonable. The prime rib dinner is my absolute favorite.”

Although the restauarant’s official 12th anniversary was in early November, you can still come celebrate a big event at Monkey Bar—the annual New Year’s Eve Party.

“Chuck Peterson will be performing for the 10th year, and the crowd really loves him,” Claudia says. “We will also have a special menu and our regular menu—we want everyone to feel welcome and have fun. We want everyone to come out and have a great evening, so we keep our prices reasonable. There’s no cover, we’ll have drink specials and we’ll have a free Champagne toast and party favors at midnight.”

After 12 years of highs and lows owning and running Monkey Bar, Claudia still has just one main goal.

“The biggest reward of this job is when my customers leave with a smile on their face,” Claudia says. “That’s the most important thing.”

1428 Lafayette St., Cape Coral, 239.549.8800,