We miss you, Normie There are fixtures at our local bars—not lighting, mirrors or taps, but the customers you can count on seeing there nearly every day.

Steve Lamarre was a fixture. He was always there. People nicknamed him “Norm,” after the beloved “Cheers” character.

His beer of choice was Bud Light Aluminum

He always abandoned his barstool if someone else seemed to need it. Some nights, he’d start at one end of the bar and gradually work his way down to the other, yielding space all along the way to other patrons

He was often hunched over his cell phone but appreciated conversation if it was offered. He spoke in a gently guttural growl

He’d gained some weight over the years, but quit smoking three months ago to improve his health.

But when he didn’t show up one day at one of his usual Port Charlotte haunts, everyone worried. Word eventually got around that he was in the ICU, then that he was in the last stages of congestive heart failure, his lungs 80 percent filled with fluid.

Steve and his father, Frank, who was at Tidewell Hospice, passed away within 15 hours of each other that weekend

They’re saving Normie a barstool and a Bud at PaddyWagon Irish Pub, and holding a celebration of life on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

PaddyWagon Irish Pub (941-206-0782), 2681 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte, is open daily noon to 2 a.m. From brews to breakfast

There’s another familiar face missing from Punta Gorda’s 2½-year-old Belgian Monk, but the circumstances are far happier for co-owner Dave Robbins.

Robbins recently announced that, given an offer he couldn’t refuse, he’ll become general manager of the Waffle House that’s currently under construction at 1228 Tamiami Trail and E. McKenzie Street, between Dollar General and O’Reilly Auto Parts in Punta Gorda. He hopes to open the shoebox-shaped, 24-7-365 icon in October.

According to Waffle House recruiting specialist Allyssa Johnson, the new location will hire 60 managers and team members over the coming months, as will a Waffle House coming to North Port next to the new Taco Bell at S. Sumter and City Center boulevards.

Robbins had to cancel his fall philosophy classes at Florida SouthWestern State College, though.

“I’ll probably start back next spring with at least one class. I miss it,” he said.

Co-owner Ken McCoog will continue to man the taps at the Monk.

The Belgian Monk ($), 833-843-6665, 318 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda, is open Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to midnight, Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday noon to midnight

Something new, with familiar faces, on Placida Road It was a surprise to a by-then-comfortable crew of regulars from Rotonda, Cape Haze and Grove City when, at less than a year old, Annie B’s Beef N Booze closed its 8501 Placida Road doors. They’d already suffered through the shuttering of Villa Capri in the same spot.

A new owner, John McCallister, will soon open the eponymous Johnny’s Bar & Grill there, with American food at moderate prices, a brand-new jukebox and pool tables. There’s also talk of trivia.

Even better, the spot’s favorite bartender, Dan Colvin, and bartender Cj Wilder of Englewood’s “Big Moose” lodge on Dearborn, will be tending the taps. And Chef Glen Wilson, well known in Englewood for his Mini City food truck, will have a real kitchen there, in which to prepare classic barbecue.

Johnny’s will also be the only late-night spot on that stretch of Placida Road.

Johnny’s Bar & Grill ($-$$), 8501 Placida Road, Englewood, will open sometime in September

Average price ranges are $ = inexpensive (under $10), $$ = moderate ($11-$30), and $$$ = pricey (over $30), including tip and beverage. Send restaurant and bar news and recommendations to columnist Sue Wade at suewade47@aol.com.


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