The Mermaid Room, a new business brainstormed by Miami transplant Ali Perez, opened for adults 21 and older and just next door to her other business, Best Ice Cream.
Both businesses are at 1401 Lee St. in downtown Fort Myers, but Perez stressed they are separate businesses, with separate doors and different atmospheres. Families with children are encouraged in Best Ice Cream, while adults only are in the Mermaid Room.
They must be separate, she said, because while Best Ice Cream serves various flavors and creations, with popcorn and cotton candy and other candy garnishes, the Mermaid Room serves ice cream with legal Delta 8 garnishes derived from illegal marijuana, like gummies and pop rocks.
The Mermaid Room is open from 6 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Perez plans to extend the days and hours when tourist season arrives in 2024.
“I am so happy with how it turned out,” she said of the Mermaid Room. “I feel like this is a dream come true. It’s something that I’ve had in mind for many, many years, and finally I was able to do it.
“It’s got light effects at night. It looks like you’re underwater. The Mermaid Room has come to life. Finally. After all this time.”
Perez has been operating Best Ice Cream in various parts of Fort Myers for about 11 years. She opened the new downtown ice cream shop in September 2022, only to be shut down for a few weeks by Hurricane Ian. The storm delayed the opening of the Mermaid Room by an entire year. She had help from her landlords, Herb and Mitzi Katz, who gave Perez the financial freedom to proceed with achieving her dream.
The Delta 8 products, she said, encourage relaxation, as do the artistry and fluorescent lighting inside. She spent tens of thousands of dollars on outfitting the space with antique light fixtures, the lighting and the bar.
The eight-item menu of showstoppers costs $25 to $28.
The description for the Angler, for example, says: “If you love mojitos, this is the pick for you. Our ice cream base with natural lime juice and mint extract, topped with a Delta 9 treat.”
Or Mermaid’s Lust, which is “naturally colored purple, with a hint of pure Bulgarian lavender, gently sprinkled with edible glitter and a tuft of Delta 9 candy floss and a Delta 9 treat.”
“This is something I came up with,” Perez said. “I have not seen it anywhere, including the artwork that’s gone into this. We’re working on our beer and wine license. We want to add onto our present menu. You can come and celebrate special occasions here.”
Delta 8 and Delta 9 are legal in Florida and are up to 3% of the levels of THC, the drug present in marijuana, Perez said.
“People should really get into reading about it and learning that this is a product that helps people just relax,” she said. “Just chill. I’m all for that. There is a lot of stress in this world right now, and this is where people need to be.”