With their Captiva Island cafe quickly shut down from Hurricane Ian destruction, a pair of longtime pals and restaurateurs made the decision to open an additional just one on Sanibel Island.
Rosalita’s Cantina, a new Tex-Mex cafe at 975 Rabbit Road, opened March 1, the exact day owner Tim McGowan closed on it. He purchased the Rabbit Highway Center at the corner of Rabbit Highway and Sanibel Captiva Highway for $6 million, building it the major professional centre sale on the island in pretty much 20 yrs, stated Berkshire Hathaway Household Providers broker Evan duPont, who represented each the purchaser and the seller, Sean Niesel.
“Rabbit Road really desired a excellent restaurant to thrive,” Niesel mentioned. “I just did not have the time or the electricity to give back again to Rabbit Highway Center with all I have likely on.”
Niesel is tasked with rebuilding Shalimar Cottages & Motel, a boutique inn he owns off West Gulf Push that had all 33 of its units and 15 buildings destroyed Sept. 28 by Hurricane Ian. Niesel mentioned he could use the revenue from the Rabbit Road sale to support fund the rebuilding of Shalimar.“The consumer and seller possess equivalent values and appreciation of the islands as properly as a bullish outlook on the islands’ long run as we keep on down the street to recovery,” duPont mentioned. “This trade was a traditional, mutually useful transaction on Sanibel. The consumer is the ideal suit for the middle, and he will deliver a new daily life and useful options to the uniquely situated space.”
McGowan, owner of The Eco-friendly Flash Restaurant on Captiva since 2021, pounced on the option to obtain the procuring center at the corner of what long has been anchored by a cafe. It was the authentic spot of Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market, Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille and most recently 400 Rabbits, which did not return following the storm.
The Doc Ford’s site has reopened at 2500 Island Inn Street on Sanibel but stays closed on Captiva and Fort Myers Seaside. Timbers reopened at 703 Tarpon Bay Road.
Rosalita’s spot, about 2 miles away, gives diners yet another solution, McGowan claimed. “I’ve experienced my eyes on serious estate in Southwest Florida since 2000,” McGowan mentioned. “The hurricane gave me an prospect on this individual piece. The earlier entrepreneurs experienced a quantity of houses that have been harmed by the hurricane. I inquired about it, and it just labored out.
“We’re type of in uncharted territory, submit-hurricane, not really being aware of what the demand will be. I never hope Sanibel will be up to total speed for two to a few yrs, but supplied the prospect, it was a fantastic time for us to buy the center.”
McGowan owns two other Rosalita’s Cantinas in St. Louis and brought the idea to Southwest Florida mainly because of his affinity for Tex-Mex. He employed longtime good friend Michael Miller to be a managing companion of the restaurant after he had been taking care of The Inexperienced Flash.
Rosalita’s has about 45 workers, and most of them arrived from The Environmentally friendly Flash, which incurred roof harm from the storm and really should reopen by the conclusion of this yr.
Miller shifted to dining places from his former occupation in the apparel marketplace as an govt with a clothing enterprise that marketed Van Heusen, Speedo, Tommy Hilfiger and other brands to big-box merchants.
Now, Miller is all in on the Tex-Mex principle. Most menu entrees at Rosalita’s vary from $14 to $30, and margaritas expense $16.
“I know it is sort of outrageous to open up a restaurant correct soon after a hurricane,” Miller mentioned. “But yet again, people today are with no kitchens. Their houses are staying rebuilt. So, you require sites to get out and go try to eat. We just believed this was a terrific possibility.”