provided to The Santiva Chronicle
Two iconic island businesses celebrated their post-hurricane reopenings with a ribbon-cutting by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce and other festivities. Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille rejoined the Sanibel commercial scene on Friday, Feb. 17, at 2500 Island Inn Road; and Billy’s Bikes on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 2437 Periwinkle Way.
Doc Ford’s opened on Sanibel Island in 2003 and moved to its present location on Tarpon Bay Road in 2016, and from there spawned spinoffs all the way to St. Petersburg, Fla. It officially first reopened its doors following the 4 p.m. ribbon-cutting last Friday to a line of eager diners.
“We’re excited to get back open after a long 4.5 months of rebuilding,” said partner Joe Harrity. “We’ve heard nothing but excitement about our reopening, and the reopening of the island as a whole. Being able to get our employees back to work is a great feeling as well, as about 75 percent of our staff prior to the storm are coming back, and some never left, helping us through the rebuild.”
The popular restaurant returns not only with familiar faces, but the same look and menu to bring back a sense of normalcy and comfort. As in the past, the restaurant opens daily for lunch and dinner.
“We received about eight inches of water throughout the building,” said Harrity. “We decided it was best to cut the four feet of drywall and wainscoting to remove any possibility of mold. We are getting all new booths, and did a completely new paint job inside, so the place will really look nice.”
“We’ve had so many inquiries wondering when Doc Ford’s will reopen,” said John Lai, chamber president and CEO. “It’s such a huge feeling of progress to have its doors back open for some Yucatan shrimp and an icy mojito.”
“The chamber was great keeping the business community up to date with everything we needed to know about how to get on the island and start rebuilding – supporting all the local businesses with reopenings and ribbon-cuttings! “It’s fun to have a ribbon-cutting at each reopening to make it official.”
Billy’s celebrated its grand opening with free bike rentals for the day, hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream, and treats from other island businesses.
“Owner Billy Kirkland was a godsend and valuable resource since Ian hitting – helping neighbors and other businesses in ways too many to count,” said Lai. “We celebrated his comeback in a big way, which was only fitting.”