Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Stan’s Emerges From the Mud


Trish Oehler and Steve Gober finally have something to smile about. After four weeks of 10 and 12-hour days, Stan’s will be ready to reopen October 27. Photos by Barry Gwinn

Trish Oehler and Steve Gober finally have something to smile about. After four weeks of 10 and 12-hour days, Stan’s will be ready to reopen October 27. Photos by Barry Gwinn

Steve Gober sat in his East Naples kitchen with his head in his hands.

On the day after Hurricane Irma, he was denied entrance into Goodland by a Marco Island policeman. It was total wreckage and the roads were impassable, Steve was told. Now, back at his home, with dark doubts beginning to arise, he wondered if he could ever get through this and come back.

The next day he made it into Goodland and was devastated by what he saw. His restaurant still stood, but a three to four foot wall of water and mud had destroyed everything on the first floor. Even sections of floor had been ripped up by the force of the surge. The furniture had been tossed around like matchsticks and the kitchen equipment inundated. All was ruined. A two to three inch layer of slimy, foul-smelling mud covered the floor. Outside, his long porch roof had been torn up and, worst of all, the stage where his father, Stan Gober, had performed for so many years, was smashed into kindling. “It took us only two weeks to recover from [Hurricane] Andrew,” Steve said, “but I never saw devastation like this. It was disheartening and gave me pause.”

This is all that was left of the stage from which Stan has entertained generations of visitors from all over the U.S.

This is all that was left of the stage from which Stan has entertained generations of visitors from all over the U.S.

He returned home that night only to be overtaken with recurring flashes of the enormity of the damage to the restaurant, which his father had entrusted to his care after dying of cancer in 2012. The thought of being unable to continue the legacy began to intrude into his mind. The season was coming on and there was so much to do to bring back that venerable 60-year-old building. There would be no help from an insurance company; there was none. Steve was unable to get a response from FEMA. He was on his own here. “For the next three days and nights, I was having a panic attack,” Steve said, “I was having trouble focusing and concentrating on anything. Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore.”

Of all the reconstruction, the stage was the most important to Steve Gober. It is a link to his father from whom he still draws inspiration.

Of all the reconstruction, the stage was the most important to Steve Gober. It is a link to his father from whom he still draws inspiration.

With the constant encouragement of his long time soulmate, Trish Oehler (whom he is soon to marry) and a pledge of help from his family and staff, Steve returned to begin the rehabilitation of Stan’s Idle Hour Restaurant. “Once we found out that the building and roof were sound, we decided we could get this done,” said Trish.

Amy Schwab paints the entranceway. A fiveyear employee, she is unabashedly devoted and loyal to the Gober family.

Amy Schwab paints the entranceway. A fiveyear employee, she is unabashedly devoted and loyal to the Gober family.

For the next three weeks, Stan’s was crawling with family and staff, cleaning up the mess. First the mass of mud had to be removed and then the ruined equipment, furniture, and debris hauled across the street to Stan’s parking lot. It all but filled up the lot with a 10-foot high heap of furniture, kitchen equipment and debris. Steve and Trish were working 12 to 14 hour days, 24/7, supervising and doing much of the dirtiest work them- selves. I caught up to Steve on September 27 after my own odyssey, and also found his sons, Michael, Dylan, Ryan and Zach, hard at work. Amy Schwab, a five-year employee, says that she is honored and privileged to work for a family that is bound together in times of such turmoil. “They have my utmost loyalty,” she said, “I would do anything for them.” Schwab, along with most of the staff, has been on site every day.

A view of part of the kitchen immediately after the storm: The water level reached the level of the sun splashed counter top at middle, submerging everything. All of this had to be wrestled out and dragged across the street by the staff. Photo by Trish Oehler

A view of part of the kitchen immediately after the storm: The water level reached the level of the sun splashed counter top at middle, submerging everything. All of this had to be wrestled out and dragged across the street by the staff. Photo by Trish Oehler

Steve points to water level of flooding from Irma, visible on the glass door.

Steve points to water level of flooding from Irma, visible on the glass door.

Steve is shooting for a reopening date of Friday, October 27th. The kitchen equipment was to be delivered on October 7th. After Stan died in June 2012, Steve was overtaken with the fear that many would not return. Those fears turned out to be unfounded. Now, after Irma, that specter still haunts him he wants everyone to know that in honor of his father, he is going to keep the restaurant going (and continue to entertain people who come here from all 50 states, as well as raising a lot of money for charity). “Dad would want me to do this,” he said, “I can’t let him down.”

12 responses to “Stan’s Emerges From the Mud”

  1. Joyce Rescigno says:

    so very happy that you will be re-opening…I am up in NY, loved your Dad and all that goes on at Stan’s!
    Your Dad I am sure is smiling up there in the Balcony with all his Friends….and especially Mel….

    • Lynda Joyce says:

      I too spent many hours with your dad over the 80 s…you and yours have done an amazing job and you can be sure we will come from near and far….God Bless xxxx see you first Sunday I arrive.

  2. Jack Anderson says:

    We had went to Stans for years before we moved to Spain early this year. Glad to see that it will be opening soon. We miss our days there. I have treasured the glasses Steve, thank you so much for the momento. Jack and Sheila Anderson.

  3. Joe Batte says:

    God Bless you & your family Steve!

  4. Ginger Short says:

    Been coming to Goodland for years and Stan’s is known all over my home state of Ohio. I am so happy to hear that you are coming back just as all of Goodland I pray will. Keep up the hard work and wishing you the best!

  5. Rob Nielsen says:

    Congrats and see you next June. Always a pleasure !

  6. Adam Bissell says:

    Folks, if you can find it in your hearts and in your wallets, there is a GoFundMe page to help the Gober family in this time of need.

  7. Christine Swan says:

    Stan’s is a great place to have FUN.
    Please keep it going. Go there and drink the spirits to help.

  8. Fred Shinn says:

    I couldn’t be prouder of the Goober family and friends. I know “Stan” is popping his buttons with pride also. Steve is an extension of his dad and we all know what he is going through during this rebuilding phase. Stan’s will come back better and brighter and will remain an icon of Marco for years to come, Although I am now living in Arizona, a part of my heart will always be a Buzzard Loper

  9. Freida Gee says:

    Hate to hear about this. Glad you’re getting it back up and running Steve. I know your daddy is smiling down at you. Goodland wouldn’t be the same without Stans.

  10. Jon & Susie says:

    My girlfriend and I rented down in Marco March and April last year and spent a few Sunday’s at Stan’s and also a few lunch’s during the weeks we were down there.Had a great time every time we went. Good staff. Good food. Great Bloody’s! Glad you are back up and running. See you in March.

  11. Jon & Susie says:

    My girlfriend and I rented down in Marco March and April last year and spent a few Sunday’s at Stan’s and also did a few lunch’s during the weeks we were down there. Had a great time every time we were there. Great staff. Good food. Great Bloody’s! Glad you guys are back up and running> See you in March. Jon&Susie

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