by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
Pinocchio’s Original Italian Ice Cream is returning to the island in a new home at Periwinkle Place shopping center. Sanibel Planning Commission unanimously approved the conditional use permit application this week.
Pinocchio’s was located on the east end of Sanibel, when it opened in 1980 serving homemade gelato. It was purchased in 2007 by Donna and Tom Puma and the family successfully operated the business on the east end until November 2017, when it was sold as a franchise.
Donna told planning commissioners the decision to franchise did not work out for them, which led to the extinction of Pinocchio’s. The business website states, in part, the Puma family is now redirecting their efforts to growing the brand with the return to Sanibel Island where it all began.
Pinocchio’s was widely popular with its signature frozen confections in an array unique flavors. The Puma family has plans for a second Pinocchio’s location in the Village Shoppes at Health Park, Fort Myers. But, it does not meet the threshold for the formula restaurant definition and franchise opportunities will no longer be offered.
There are plans to have the Sanibel location open in the fall and the Fort Myers location open in June, according the Pinocchio’s Facebook page.
Commissioners also approved a permit to upgrade a cell tower at 3445 Sanibel Captiva Rd., owned by CenturyLink. The 151-foot antenna support structure will be replaced with a 149-foot monopole structure. The staff report states the existing tower cannot accommodate the weight of upgraded equipment and the new tower allows for three cell phone service providers.
A conditional use permit and development permit was also approved by commissioners this week. The permits allow for the installation of an erosion control structure and removal of existing rip-rap at a single-family home on Buttonwood Lane.