Three years in the making, the Southwest Florida Performing Arts Center finally opened its doors to the public on Saturday, June 25. Owner Brien Spina runs another popular establishment in town: The Off the Hook Comedy Club, which opened back in 2005 as the first venue in Southwest Florida to incorporate a full-service restaurant into a comedy club.
For more information on the center’s grand opening celebration on June 25, click here.
As his comedy venue grew in popularity, Spina decided to expand by opening a second center to seize opportunities on a grander scale.
“It took a few years to get through the permitting and approval process, and to make the design changes in the actual center,” Spina explained. “Some of the major changes were made because we wanted to create more of an events-style space rather than strictly a theater venue. We wanted the opportunity to bring in other events besides just theater shows, and we’ve certainly achieved that.”
Besides the main theater, the 27,000-square-foot center will also feature a new dining option for guests: the Teatro Restaurant, which includes two bars and a Mediterranean-Italian menu created by Michelin Star Chef Michael Psilakis.
“While both the comedy club and the arts center will have dinner and shows, we’re talking about two totally different feels when you walk in the door,” explained Spina. “The comedy club is a smaller venue, a more intimate space, whereas the center is an events-based theater with a world-class restaurant. They both offer a lot of talent, but on different levels.”
The center will present comedy acts, shows, theater productions, and plays, as well as provide a host space for private events such as galas, wedding receptions, children’s programs, and more.
“We’re booking many events as we speak, and we have a lot of tremendous shows coming in that wouldn’t be able to be produced at the comedy club. They’re full theater shows and off-Broadway events; great things that the performing arts center is specifically designed for,” said Spina. “We’re also going to have hundreds of people in for charity events and weddings, and really, there are few places in the area that would be able to handle a crowd like that here in Bonita.”
For a lineup of the center’s future shows and events, check out its schedule of upcoming talent here.