by SC Reporter Reese Holiday
After a frozen custard shack was approved in a Sanibel Planning Commission meeting last year, a Mexican restaurant will join the gooey desert shop in opening their doors as new eateries on the island.
The Sanibel Custard Shack, which will be located at 1219 Periwinkle Way, was approved in a 5-1 vote during the September 2019 Planning Commission meeting and is still preparing for its opening this year. The owners of the shack, Charles and Lisa Whitman, also own a chain of more than 40 other frozen custard shops around the country, leading the shack’s approval to come down to a vote.
Sanibel, a city that rarely approves of chain restaurants on the island, allowed for the Sanibel Custard Shack to open because it is not associated with the rest of the Whitman’s chain. Now, the couple is busy trying to get their shack open so that they can serve their version of frozen custard to the island.
“We are excited to bring fresh, frozen custard to the island as it has been a dream of ours for years,” Lisa Whitman said via email.
Joining the shack is another new restaurant called 400 Rabbits. Rather than serve frozen desserts, however, this local eatery will be serving Tequila and authentic Mexican food with a unique twist.
“We’ll have authentic as well as, what I call, inspired Mexican food that’ll have a little bit of fusion and a little bit of our twist,” said co-owner and operator, Debra Campana.
Debra, and her husband Jeramie Campana, also founded Sanibel’s own Paper Fig Kitchen which serves fresh, home-cooked food. As for their new restaurant, the Campana’s will join their combined 35 years of culinary and planning experience with James Beard Society award-winning Chef Don Yamauchi, and his wife Cleta Yamauchi, to serve a completely different and unique cuisine to the island.
“We keep hearing over and over that the island wants some more ethnic cuisine,” Debra Campana said. “All of the restaurants on the island are wonderful with fresh fish and things like that, but people were really talking about different cuisines.”
While both restaurants are busy working on getting their new eateries up and running, the Campanas have a target date of Dec. 15 for their 400 Rabbits opening, right where Doc Ford’s used to be, and are excited to serve a fresh new concept to the island.
“We’re very, very excited to bring a new cuisine and concept to Sanibel.”