Two restaurant concepts will share one roof later this month in Punta Gorda. Veteran restaurateurs Penny Rowe and Gordon Muir split a 2,832-square-foot space by adding a wall and providing two separate entries.
The pair’s passion for food and design is evident with the new Penny’s Diner and Penny’s Speakeasy, scheduled to open Nov. 27.
The old Penny’s Diner was located in the strip mall behind their new stand-alone building at 1121 Bal Harbor Blvd. in Punta Gorda Isles and closed Oct. 27, 2022.
From the outside, the new location, a freshly painted blue building built in 1985, looks rather plain. Its exterior isn’t finished yet, but a step inside shows promise.
The couple did the makeovers themselves—Muir built the bar in the speakeasy, and Rowe managed the design.
The Fifties-style diner boasts large black and white tile flooring, turquoise booths, chairs, a jukebox and blue bar stools at the counter. Walls are painted in shades of yellow, pink and green. The diner’s trademark statue, Mrs. Patty Melt, holds a menu, wears roller skates and stands inside the door, as if to greet patrons.
The restaurant on the other side of the building, Penny’s Speakeasy, offers fine dining and recreates a bygone-era speakeasy with antique furniture. Features include Roaring ’20s-style light fixtures, an upright piano, dark red walls with photos of movie stars and posters, and dark wood barstools with red padded seat cushions, and a Triomphe L’oeil of a vintage wine and bootleg cellar makes up the rear wall.
“Everything is homemade and fresh, nothing is frozen,” Rowe said of the food at Penny’s Diner. “The biscuits and gravy are homemade, and the burgers are fresh. We shop for bread and produce every other day.”
Rowe also makes the restaurants’ sauces daily.
Nothing on the diner’s breakfast and lunch menu is more than $14.99, with one exception—the Double Trouble Cheeseburger for $17.99, which contains two 8-ounce, hand-formed patties.
Penny’s Diner specialties include Ricky Ricardo’s Cuban (Lucy’s Favorite) sandwich, Telly Savalas gyro and the James Dean classic burger. The Speakeasy menu offers six items from land and six from sea, and reservations are required.
“This is where my heart is, it’s my passion,” said Rowe, who has been in the restaurant business for 27 years.