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Relocating the Emporium


The Bubble Room Emporium now has a new home!

The restaurant’s beloved gift shop has reopened across Captiva Drive at the former site of Albert Meadow Antiques.

The site was actually part of the original Bubble Room properties.

Artist Katie Gardenia founded the restaurant in 1979, owning the main structure, the separate 200-square-foot building to the north – which has been serving as the Emporium – and the 6,000-square-foot site across the street. When she sold the business in 1989, the new Bubble Room owner took over the main restaurant and smaller building, while David Doherty purchased the adjacent land and structure. Josephine Anderson, Doherty’s parner, recently sold it back to the Bubble Room’s owner after Doherty had passed away.

The building needed a full remodeling, with new insulation, wiring, fire suppression system and a new HVAC system, but priority was put on trying to retain the Old Florida, Captiva style.

“We were careful with the historical integrity. We tried to maintain its original state as much as possible,” said Stephen Peach, Bubble Room manager. “We value the significance of how it looks and how people remember it.”

As for the use of the new space, it will feature all the fun and unique Bubble Room souvenirs and merchandise, toys and games, and gift shop items that the Emporium has become known for carrying. However, some big updates are planned for the new shop thanks to the increase in square footage.

In line with what makes the Bubble Room what it is, the Emporium will house a handful of antique exhibits. There is a working, cast iron shooting gallery from the Oceanside Pier in California from the early 20th Century, which is set up behind the cashier’s counter, plus a wooden carousel board hanging above. Nearby, visitors to the shop will discover a 1919 fortune teller machine that also still works.

Also on exhibit is a gas-powered tether racing car originally purchased for Shirley Temple for her birthday. She drove the vehicle around 20th Century Fox’s lot, which a book on display will explain.

While these pieces are not for sale, an area of the shop will be sectioned off and filled with large collectable-quality antiques that are priced to sell. There is a Chris Craft coin-operated boat ride and 1950s dime-operated Ride the Space Ship ride, motorized Citron and Austin J40 mini-cars, a Clark Jewel cast iron range, two Wurlitzer jukeboxes, a mini shooting gallery, claw machine and more.

Pictured above, a Gasparini orchestrion is being sold with 100 songbooks.

“There will be a revolving antiques display of items for sale,” Peach said.

The idea to offer the sale of large antiques actually came about as a result of years of requests from Bubble Room customers. He explained that the restaurant consists of three floors and five dining rooms filled with toys, games, photos and such from the 1930s to 1950s, the “Golden Age of Hollywood.”

“People see it and they become nostalgic,” Peach said. “They want a piece of it.”

The Bubble Room Emporium’s new location is at 15000 Captiva Drive. They’re open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call 239-472-6545.

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