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New owners take over Ragged Ass Saloon

July 27, 2016
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

The ownership of Ragged Ass Saloon in St. James City changed last month from a "Chicago Group" of investors to four Southwest Florida partners: Nick Ruland, Peter Ennis, John Shields and Steve Lamonsoff.

Lamonsoff is both partner and day-to-day manager of the restaurant.

"I'm originally from Long Island," Lamonsoff said. "I've run restaurants for 35 years from New York to the Poconos, to Raleigh, N.C., to Jacksonville Beach and Savannah, where I worked at a restaurant called Johnny Harris. Although my wife and I liked Savannah, we decided in January that we wanted to live in Florida so we relocated the central part of the state in January of this year. I managed restaurants in Orlando and Daytona Beach."

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Lamonsoff spent about 10 days visiting the Fort Myers / Naples area and really liked it.

"When I got back home I encouraged my wife to move one more time," Lamonsoff said. "I assured her that this would be the last move, where we would spend the rest of our lives. When I met the other three partners here, I knew we were in the right place. Each one of the partners has been in the restaurant business and I've owned restaurants in New York and St. Augustine. We decided to get together and find a restaurant to buy.

"I had seen the signs for Pine island but had never been here," Lamonsoff continued. "Then one of the partners mentioned that there was a restaurant on Pine Island for sale and my wife and I came out one weekend and fell in love with the island. When you cross over that bridge it's 1958 again."

The area in the Hamptons where Lamonsoff grew up was mostly fishermen, potato farmers and clammers.

"There were lots of cows and Pine Island reminds me of those times when I was growing up in the Hamptons," Lamonsoff said. "Pine Island has that rustic charm that makes it a community with that small town feel.

"There are several restaurants for sale in Southwest Florida but we selected Ragged Ass Saloon because it's a 'diamond in the rough,'" Lamonsoff said. "The original restaurant dates back to 1954 and although the building needs a little cosmetic work, we don't have plans to make any big changes. We also think Ragged Ass has the most growth potential.

Other than some minor changes, he said the restaurant will remain the same.

"Our feelings are that we paid a price for an ongoing restaurant and that's what we want to keep," Lamonsoff said. "We plan on keeping all the same people and any changes, other than painting and some new furniture, the regular customers won't even notice the changes we make. This is a very comfortable restaurant and that's why people come here and that's why whatever changes we make will be small ones.

"We have expanded our dock space so people can come by boat, by car, by golf cart and even by bicycle, we have plenty of parking," Lamonsoff said. "We also have seating overlooking the water on the Monroe deck.

He closed by saying, Pine Island and the Ragged Ass are all about the people.

"What I like about Pine island is when I look out into the parking lot there will be a pickup truck parked next to a Mercedes," Lamonoff said. "People who can afford to live anywhere choose to come here and this business is all about the people and that's what makes it fun."



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