When is a dining experience more than a dining experience? When you dine at Chuck’s Last Stop: An American Grill.

When we first pulled up, I have to admit–I was a little unsure. The place was empty. But Trip Advisor rated it as THE number one place to eat in Fort Myers Beach. And we had rockstar parking. We were staying.

Upon entering, again, I was a bit unsure. But that lasted about two seconds. We were seated by a warm and friendly server, and then greeted by not one, but two Chucks. The first Chuck we met was the manager. Very friendly. He doted on our children like they were his own. He stopped as often as he could as he buzzed around from table to table, and I could hear him directing the rest of the staff–he is a savvy businessman, no doubt. Per his direction, each patron was treated royally and made to feel special.

We also had the pleasure of meeting the other Chuck–the owner. An unassuming and quiet man. He blends in with the crowd until he comes to your table to greet you personally and thank you for giving his restaurant a chance. He was gracious, hospitable, and humble. He was even kind enough to pose for a picture with Milton! (If you’ve followed our story on Facebook, you know that Milton is Eli’s monkey blanket that went everywhere with him at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital…find me on Facebook–Stephanie Dann–to see Milton’s album and many other things I don’t post here.) And after we explained a little bit about Eli’s history, Chuck asked if we had a website and if he could post a picture with Milton on the restaurant’s website! I felt quite honored!

Here’s Milton posing in the restaurant


And here he is with Chuck, the restaurant’s owner.


Of course, I can’t forget our server or our food. Let me tell you about our server first–Leah. She went out of her way to make sure we were taken care of, paying special attention to our kids. She thanked us repeatedly while she was serving us–not a typical experience for me. She made some special arrangements for our food and made sure we were completely satisfied. She had plenty to say to our kids and treated us like she’d known us forever.

And the food–it. was. delicious. We started with the volcano-something-or-others. So. Yummy. My husband had the catch of the day, my daughter had the kids’ pizza (which was like gourmet pizza for kids), and I had the pepper chicken. Everything was fantastic. My Caesar salad was the best I’ve ever had ANYWHERE. Even if the service was terrible (which it wasn’t), I would go back just for the yummy food.

We were flattered beyond flattered while we were there. They definitely know how to lay it on thick. And from a business perspective, that works wonders. From the customer’s perspective, that works too–they seemed to be genuine and sincere.

So, how does this relate to Down syndrome? Well, despite sharing some information about Eli’s history, we never made mention of his Ds. But we received many lovely compliments on both of our kids. Sometimes I wonder if people know by looking at him. I didn’t mention it, but when Eli is being showered with affection, when we walk past people to hear, “Oh, look at the baby! He is so cute!”–that’s when I want to shout from the rooftops: “He is so cute! And he has Down syndrome! This is Down syndrome, and Down syndrome is beautiful!”

Anyway, the fact this place is called “Chuck’s” was icing on the cake for our lovely experience. My grandfather–one of my favorite people ever–was Chuck. I’ve often wondered what he would think of my kids, especially Eli. I think Eli would have been his little buddy. And getting so much attention from not one, but two Chucks felt kind of like my grandfather was smiling down on us to say he approves.

If you’re in the area, be sure to eat there! Thank you to everyone at Chuck’s for a wonderful dinner! It was worth every penny.


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