THE HOUSE THAT GRAHAM BUILT

The rambling red former garage at the corner of E. Marion Avenue and Nesbit Street has been growing like a living thing ever since 1999. That’s when owners Kevin and son Max Doyle pushed through their bar’s brick wall to double the downstairs. Next, they added an upstairs bar where some apartments had been.

Architect Graham Tyler, The Celtic Ray‘s old friend and first customer, has been involved in every stage of its organic growth. Two years ago, he presented a video rendering that rolled out, layer by layer, a virtual courtyard floor, outdoor bar, bar roof, upper deck and stairway that were hard to envision in reality.

Miraculously, the outside began to take shape.

A year ago, the new streetside pavilion was ready for live performances and a 50-foot-long outside bar soon followed.

“Can’t have too much bar,” said Kevin.

Next up — they hope, by Christmas — an upper deck over the outside bar, with 100 additional seats overlooking the entire courtyard. And after that, a little upstairs bar just off the upper deck.

As Max explained it a year ago, “We’re planning to have festivals outside, with two bands going — one on the upstairs deck and bigger names at the pavilion. Solo acts will continue at the inside bar, for that pub atmosphere.”

“It all falls into place,” said Kevin philosophically, “if you just do a little bit and then wait. We’ve been doing that for 23 years.”

Tyler piped up, “Seamus Kelleher the entertainer said, ‘Uh oh, those two are walking around again. Wonder what they’re building next.”

Have they gone too far?

“Not yet,” Kevin quipped. “Working on it.”

The Celtic Ray Public House ($-$$), 941-916-9115, 145 E. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda, is open daily 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

FLAGSHIP TWISTED FORK TAKES SHAPE

Bert King, the Billy Fuccillo of Harley-Davidson dealerships, and Bert Parsley, developer of his flagship Twisted Fork restaurant, are justifiably proud of what they’ve got going on at the top-10 Bert’s Black Widow, 2224 El Jobean Road.

Amid garage-chic décor of oil cans, car parts, rusty metal and barnwood, two merch areas will flank the main square footage —which will be entered, of course, through garage doors.

Facing the patio, an indoor-outdoor bar will breach one garage door, while an outdoor bar sits alongside the patio and another bar’s taps feed directly off the walk-in cooler.

The 5,000-square-foot indoor dining area, filled with booths and tables, and the 3,600-square-foot outdoor patio will share 32 flat-screen TVs. An entire indoor wall will be occupied by a 7-by-10-foot screen that Parsley swears will be the biggest in Charlotte County.

With an entire cook line devoted to it, pizza obviously looms large in the evolving menu. Another area of the kitchen is set aside for a 700-pound, 60-quart Hobart floor mixer to make fresh in-house pizza dough, bread and pretzels.

When 100 hungry and thirsty bikers roar in, the Berts plan to be ready.

“And for those who didn’t think so,” added King in an online video, “we are going to (still) give away free beer in the dealership.”

The eatery is scheduled for completion in January.

What are they building next? Another Twisted Fork in Bert’s Barracuda Harley-Davidson, St. Petersburg.

Send restaurant and bar news and recommendations to columnist Sue Wade at suewade47@aol.com.

Average price ranges are $ = inexpensive (under $10), $$ = moderate ($11-$30), and $$$ = pricey (over $30), including tip and beverage.

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