Shell Factory & Nature Park closes due to coronavirus
The Shell Factory & Nature Park has joined the long list of businesses across Lee County that have closed to the public. Even as the coronavirus was beginning to sweep across the nation, the popular North Fort Myers attraction continued to hold events such as St. Patty’s Day, albeit doing so with lots of caution.
On Monday, the 80-year-old attraction announced it would shut down temporarily until the virus subsides. Sunday was the last day of business.
It is the first time the Shell Factory has been closed since the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017.
Pam Cronin, Shell Factory owner, said it made sense to close now, since it has reached a point of weighing “caution over compassion.”
“We already closed off high contact areas and attractions last week such as the Fun Park and events we couldn’t properly protect,” Cronin said, “We stayed open because every day the staff thanked us for allowing them to be there while they organized, made plans and made a few extra dollars.”
They won’t roll up the pavement, however. The restaurant will remain open for takeout, with the time off allowing them to do the necessary work on it before it rebrands itself as the Southern Grill and allows for the opening of Tommy’s Tiki Bar, which should officially open after the Shell Factory reopens.
Cronin said they will take advantage of the unscheduled closing to do necessary work on the entire grounds.
“We’re making lemonade. We’re cleaning the place up and getting projects done that we need to move forward on,” Cronin said. “We’re working on the roof and landscaping and have our maintenance and landscaping staff still here.”
The Nature Park animals will remain on-site during the closure and appropriate measures taken to ensure their care and safety, which means keeping more people on staff.
“We’re going to try to get things done and keep people separated enough where we don’t have more than three or four people together,” Cronin said.
Cronin said the biggest heartbreak is the closure of the flea market, which local growers have depended on for revenue. Again, she said it was the right thing to do.
“We don’t know when leadership tells us when everything can slowly open again. We’re just going to take it day by day and do the right thing,” Cronin said. “My heart is broken, but again, we’re making lemonade.”
The Shell Factory is accepting donations for the Nature Park Environmental Education fund, a 501(c)3 that helps support the care needed for the animals.
Those interested in donating can visit ShellFactory.com.