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DOUBLE CELEBRATIONS: Two more Sanibel restaurants open for business

Posted at 8:59 AM, Apr 12, 2024

SANIBEL, Fla. — Sanibel Island has taken another step in its ongoing recovery efforts with the grand openings of two restaurants.

Located at the corner of Periwinkle and Buttonwood Lane, Wickies is the latest culinary attraction on the island. It's name was inspired by lighthouse keepers sometimes referred to as wickies because of thier job of trimming the wicks. This new dining spot is a collaborative effort between the owners of two island eateries, The Island Cow and The Mad Hatter, both of which are still under reconstruction.

"The idea was to blend elements from The Hatter and The Cow to create something new, something different," shared Brian Podlasek, co-owner of Wickies, alongside his business partner Max Kolshak.

Wickies Restaurant

Despite the excitement surrounding the new openings, both entrepreneurs acknowledged the challenges they faced. "Rebuilding is not for the faint of heart," Podlasek added, highlighting the efforts required to bring these projects to life.

Wickies takes over the site formerly occupied by the Lighthouse Cafe, a restaurant that stood for 38 years before its destruction by Hurricane Ian.

The Lighthouse Cafe has since moved further west on Periwinkle, near Bailey's Road, where owner Daniel Billheimer has taken a hands-on approach to its reconstruction.

lighthouse cafe interior.jpg

"There isn’t a screw that’s been set in this place that I don’t know about," Billheimer said, expressing his involvement in the rebuilding process. He anticipates reopening The Lighthouse Cafe to the public within the next month.

Further along Periwinkle Way, another celebration took place with the grand opening of Cheeburger Cheeburger on Thursday. Situated in its original location, the restaurant's return is particularly meaningful to the community. "This location being the original Cheeburger Cheeburger is something very special to all of us and the locals," said Sithembile Khumalo, General Manager.

Interior of cheeburger.jpg

A recent report from the Tourist Development Council of Lee County reveals that just over 17% of hotel rooms are available again on Sanibel, an important number that the local restaurant operators said they'll be watching very closely.

Statistics of hotel rooms on sanibel, showing only 17.4% are open