Spotlight on Grown up Islanders: Luke Long
Luke Long was born an islander. He said his grandfather came out to the island in 1970 from Indianapolis and opened a restaurant called the Seabreeze. He’d brought Long’s mother, local artist Mel Meo with him, beginning their family’s legacy on Pine Island.
Long said he doesn’t see the same number of youth running free around the island that he did when he was a kid.
“We would commute to the Pine Island pool, play baseball at the field — we had free reign to do what we pleased,” said Long. “We spent a lot of time building forts, and riding around on our bikes. I don’t really see kids doing things like that anymore.”
Although he’s not exactly certain when those things changed, he said he definitely sees the transition.
When he wasn’t playing Pine Island Little League, or exploring the island, Long said he was doing anything that involved the water, like fishing or going to the barrier islands.
He admits having been raised in an island community influenced him to be very ethically minded.
“My dad was a commercial fisherman,” Long said. “Growing up within a fishing community taught me a strong work ethic — the value of hard work and making money. When you start something, you finish it.”
He credits this work ethic for helping him build a sense for the kind of businessman he wanted to become. As a project manager for Honc Industries, Long still has close ties to the island community in which he was surrounded while growing up.
Long left for college to get an economics in construction degree, that brought him right back to long-time friends Jake Herring and Steve Honc, who are now his work colleagues.
“I worked my way around gaining some experience with large companies,” said Long. “I was in Tampa and moved to Knoxville Tennessee, West Palm Beach, and ultimately I still just wanted to come back to the island.”
Although he now finds himself living in Cape Coral, he said his love for the island runs deep and has never changed, evidenced by his work here.
Long said even if he came into a large sum of money, his life would likely be very similar to what it has become.
“I’d have better access to the water,” said Long. “It would be minor adjustments, it wouldn’t be anything extravagant.”
To those who’ve set their sights on the island as a new place to live or even just to day-trippers, Long said, respect for the island is of the utmost importance.
“Support the community and local businesses. Enjoy the fresh seafood and local art. Slow down figuratively and take it all in, but speed up literally when driving through the island,” Long said with a chuckle.