Mitch Schwenke is the proprietor of the Blue Coyote Supper Club at the Sanibel Island Golf Club. The restaurant uses the artwork of Markus Pierson to provide an experience in fine art and fine dining. SC photo by Dorothy Wallace
Mitch Schwenke is the proprietor of the Blue Coyote Supper Club at the Sanibel Island Golf Club. The restaurant uses the artwork of Markus Pierson to provide an experience in fine art and fine dining. SC photo by Dorothy Wallace

As the trend of mixing an atmosphere of art with delectable food catches on locally, one new restaurant on Sanibel has added its own special twist. The Blue Coyote Supper Club, located at the Sanibel Island Golf Club, is both a gallery for fine art as well as a gallery for fine dining. Unlike other dining venues that surround guests with a broad array of art, though, the Blue Coyote Supper Club spotlights the work of just one artist—Markus Pierson, the creator of the beloved Coyote Series. In fact, the main theme of the restaurant revolves around Pierson’s coyotes and accounts for its name as well.

Having done it in his Fort Myers location, which is a private club located in the Caloosa Yacht and Racquet Club, Blue Coyote Supper Club proprietor Mitch Schwenke decided that it was time to introduce islanders to the coyote art experience as well. “In our business it’s fun,” he said of the whole idea of selling fine art and fine food. “It’s all for sale, just like a normal gallery. It adds a huge dimension to your theme, and if you can sell it, it can be a profit center that you wouldn’t normally have.”

Schwenke has been an art collector for as long as he has been in the restaurant business, so it was easy for him to combine two of the things that he most enjoyed. “I’ve been doing it since my first restaurant,” he reminisced. “I had a gallery and it was themed. The restaurant was called The Blackhawk and the character in the art was referred to by the artist as ‘the hawk.’”

The difference between the hawk art and the current Coyote Series, Schwenke pointed out, is that the coyotes truly speak to the viewer, “There is a story or a poem with every picture. It’s a very different type of art and I loved it from when I first saw it.”

Upon discovering Pierson’s coyotes, Schwenke sought permission from Pierson’s publisher to use the name and feature his art. “The series started in 1986 and has just evolved extraordinarily through the years,” he said. “Now, [Pierson] self publishes and all the galleries—there are only eight other ones besides me—buy directly from him. We have the largest selection of his art on display here. I sell a lot of it and I have a lot of established collectors that have several pieces and continue to purchase it.”

Schwenke is only too glad to introduce more people to Pierson’s work. “I’ve become great friends with the artist,” he said fondly. “If nothing else, I’ve made a great friend for life.”

A Tasteful Atmosphere

The Blue Coyote Supper Club, with its dark woodwork, artistic lighting, and rich colors, forms the perfect backdrop for highlighting Markus Pierson’s Coyote Series. It also makes for a fun and artsy atmosphere where guests can enjoy fine dining while being immersed in the coyote story.

Schwenke opted to keep the menu small to focus on the highest quality. There are several appetizers, salads, and desserts to choose from, and the entrée list is guaranteed to please. For example, his signature dish, the Coyote Chop, brings to Sanibel the world’s finest kurobuta pork from Snake River Farms. Encrusted with panko and rosemary, it is served atop house potatoes with a sweet, blackberry gastrique.

A second favorite is the Blue Coyote Stew, a rich and brothy mix of scallops, shrimp, andouille sausage, chorizo sausage, black beans, roasted tomato, and penne pasta.

For seafood lovers, the Thai Seared Ahi Tuna, served atop udon noodles with red curry, coconut, onion, red pepper, and shaved napa cabbage, will be a spicy hit, as will the Achiote Grilled Shrimp, which is served atop fettuccine that has been tossed in a rich tomato cream sauce, wild mushrooms, and seasonal vegetables.

The Blue Coyote Supper Club is also quite proud of its selection of wines. Whereas the Fort Myers location offers strictly American wines, specifically small, boutique California wines, the Sanibel restaurant has added imported wines and its selection is growing, thanks to the efforts of Wine Director/Partner Corey Swarthout and Sanibel manager Cindie Barker.

Schwenke also credits Swarthout and Barker with being integral members of the team that keeps both Blue Coyote Supper Club locations running smoothly. “Corey worked out here [Sanibel] for 20 years, in the 80s and 90s,” Schwenke noted, “and he knows a lot of people out here. We’re interchangeable. Cindie has done a marvelous job, too, and she has a lot of wine knowledge.”

It is obvious when talking to Schwenke that he is very proud of his team. He is quick to give them praise and genuinely appreciates their hard work.

 

Another Gem in Sanibel’s Treasure Chest

Since the Blue Coyote Supper Club opened for business on Sanibel in November of 2013, Schwenke has seen a steady flow of guests and word is getting around about this unique dining experience. Unlike the Fort Myers location, which is a member’s only club, the Blue Coyote Supper Club on Sanibel is open to the public. Whether they are golfers, families, locals, or island visitors, people are discovering this new Sanibel gem and they are enjoying its blend of unique art and original food.

Schwenke is also happy to see members from his Fort Myers club driving out to Sanibel to visit the island and to dine with him here. “Almost every night.” he said, “I have at least one table in here from my club in town.”

As for the location, Schwenke admits that he has “a destination place,” meaning that his guests will be more intentional about discovering it, with fewer people just happening to wander in, and he is content with that. “We’re a little off the beaten path, but that’s okay,” he said.

Schwenke’s intent is not to draw people away from other restaurants, but rather to offer one more great dining experience to an island community that boasts variety and something for everyone. “We just have to do a nice job and then we’ll have all the business that we need.”

The Blue Coyote Supper Club on Sanibel is located adjacent to the Sanibel Island Golf Club within the clubhouse at 1100 Par View Drive. Lunch is served 7 days from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is served Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. It is open to the public and reservations are recommended. For more information, visit online at bluecoyotesupperclub.com or call 239-472-9222.