FORT MYERS, Fla. (Oct. 6, 2014) – The Veranda restaurant in downtown Fort Myers has reopened its outdoor patio for lunch and dinner guests and special events.

“Unless a patron reserves the patio for a special event, we generally close the area after season during the hot, wet months of summer,” said general manager Dennis Genge. “Now that the weather is beginning to turn nicer, especially in the evenings, our guests are already requesting to be able to dine outside once again.”

“It’s truly a unique dining experience you can’t get anywhere else, whether it’s an afternoon lunch or romantic dinner under the stars,” said Veranda owner Craig Peden. “We take great care of the more than 100 types of vegetation on our property.”

According to Peden, the garden courtyard boasts rare and spectacular botanical foliage that’s been growing since the early 1970s including one of the largest African tulip trees in the area, a cinnamon tree, bamboo, an exotic Rangoon Creeper vine, magnolia, citrus and banana trees, and more.

“I’ve watched some of these, like this Royal Palm, grow from seedlings,” said Bob Ward, a local aquatic horticulturist who has been taking care of the Veranda’s plants, trees, shrubs, flowers and goldfish pond for the past 28 years. “Similar to an artist, I use flowers and plants as my paint to create this beautiful scenery.”

The goldfish pond is a favorite with the Veranda’s diners, as kids and families love to watch and feed the fish. Ward said there are currently more than 50 adult goldfish in the pond and another 100 babies representing many generations. The show-stealer is the single Koi still remaining from after Hurricane Charley that is estimated to be more than 20 years old. The pond also features a waterfall made from an old chimney.

“Occasionally white egrets will try and swoop in for the fish, but the water plants and lilies provide a lot of protection and shade for them,” added Ward.

The restaurant also recently began growing its own herbs on the patio for use in its recipes including mint, thyme, basil and rosemary.

Celebrating 37 years of business in 2015, the Veranda is located at 2122 Second Street in two turn-of-the-century Victorian homes. It features Southern regional cuisine with a full bar, extensive wine list and first-class service in a romantic setting. The Veranda is consistently honored as one of the most award-winning restaurants in the area.

Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. A mid-day menu is served Monday through Friday from 2 to 4 p.m., and dinner is served Monday through Saturday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Private dining is also available from 10 to 400 guests. Live entertainment is featured in the Veranda’s piano lounge Wednesday through Saturday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30. Valet or street parking is also available.

For reservations and more information, call 239-332-2065 or visit