Mornings With Gina Birch

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Business all over Southwest Florida are still regrouping, reimagine and reinventing a year after Hurricane Ian. This is big news for foodies and in the restaurant community. Two iconic Sanibel restaurants to reopen under a new name. The new partnership on Sanibel is between the owners of the famous Island Cow and Mad Hatter restaurants. The charming, award-winning Mad Hatter sat off of Blind Pass, leading to Captiva. It was literally washed into the Gulf of Mexico by Hurricane Ian. The colorful, Mad Cow was destroyed by fire.


Not wanting to give up on the island and their longtime patrons, owners Brian & Elke Podlasek (Island Cow) and Max & Bridget Kolshak (Mad Hatter) are opening two new spots in the Seahorse Shopping Center on Periwinkle Way.  Introducing Wickie’s Lighthouse Restaurant and The Magic Bus Ice Cream & Caffeine. That plaza used to be home to two other longtime favorite family owned spots,  the Lighthouse Café and Sanibel Ice Cream.


Wickie’s will feature breakfast, lunch and dinner along with a full bar and signature drinks. It is said to be casual and approachable, but also have some of the Mad Hatter’s elegance. The Magic Bus will feature vintage VW-inspired décor with indoor and outdoor seating. Think old-fashioned ice cream shop and candy store vibe with modern coffee creations and baked goods.

The new restaurant partners are hoping to revitalize the east end of the island with their new venues. Opening is planned for November. Southwest Floridians have so many great memories in these former restaurants. It is great to see their spirit still alive. Congratulations.

25 Restaurants Are Now Open On Sanibel And Captiva Islands

It’s hard to believe Hurricane Ian hit 10 months ago and while we still have a long way to go, 25 restaurants are now open on Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

I’ve been spending a lot time on our local beaches. I love that here in Southwest Florida, even when there’s nothing to do, there’s something to do. And that something for me, is always heading to the beach. I usually head to Sanibel to either Bowman’s Beach or Tarpon Bay Beach. I love Gulfside City Park too, but rarely do I make it out early enough to get a parking spot. It’s been SO nice seeing all the people out enjoying the beaches, it’s been busy nearly every weekend.

There’s also a lot of businesses reopening too. Between lodging, restaurants, shopping, and things to do like kayaking and fishing charters. I will say that driving around out there just breaks your heart. It’s not so much that there’s debris everywhere, it just looks very bare and to see huge homes and condo complexes just crumbling, is so sad. Slowly but surely though, things are reopening and the island is welcoming visitors back out to the islands to stay, play and dine. You can find a full list of open businesses here

25 Restaurants Now Open on Sanibel & Captiva Islands:

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