A Room With A View Welcome Home Plus Win a 3-Night Captiva Island Vacation! Feeding the World Meet the Little Farm That’s BENNETT’S FRESH ROAST ARTISTs IN RESIDENCE THRILLERED GRAB THE RIDE OF YOUR LIFE

F or three generations, Congress Jewelers has delighted

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A Love Letter to February and March. COASTE | EDITOR’S WELCOME February and March in Southwest Florida pretty much define the apex of “high season.” It’s the perfect storm of tourism, when freezing folks flee their Northeast and Midwest winter torments for a brief respite, fans flock to celebrate the onset of a new season of Red Sox and Twins hope, and thousands of snowbirds are all fully settled into their homes-away-from-homes. Oh, and let’s not forget the spring breakers or the speedos.

to our quality of life. Our guests often work an entire year and save all they can just to escape to our coastal paradise — be it for a week, month or season. A day on the beach, a breathtaking sunset, a spring training game, fishing or kayaking or biking or baking in the sun — all this and more is what they plan for, and dream of, all year. And then it’s over, and back to reality they must trudge. Of course, tourism is our lifeblood, and that’s a good enough reason to love “high season.” But I would put it to you that the better reason to love this time of year is the affirmation it gives each of us lucky enough to live here, that this has gotta be one of the greatest places on earth to live. So the next time you’re tempted to honk your horn, or flip a finger, or just shake your head, stop. And say thanks.

The roads are packed. The lines are long. The wait times are interminable. Yes, a lot of the locals are cursing. As inconvenient as these inconveniences are, I recommend an entirely different point of view. I suggest you hug, kiss and love the chaos that is “high season.” The fact that literally millions of people from all over the world annually choose to visit Sanibel, Captiva and Southwest Florida speaks volumes

John Sprecher, Editor




• Boundary • FEMA • State Permitting • Construction 2410 Palm Ridge Road Sanibel, Florida 33957 Office: 239.472.0095 Fax: 239.472.3566 Andrew Johnson, PSM President

NOBODY PUTS MORE DREAM IN DREAM VACATION With Sanibel Vacations, you enjoy not only some of the finest vacation rental properties at great value, you enjoy personalized concierge service unlike any other. So whether your dream vacation includes bicycles, pad- dleboards, kayaks, a specially stocked kitchen on your arrival — or just the sand beneath your feet — it’ll be there. So go ahead, pinch yourself. It’s not a dream. It’s a Sanibel Vacations dream come true.


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VOLUME II | Number 1

Founder | Executive Editor John Sprecher Creative Director Director of Photography Milissa Sprecher Associate Publisher Caryn Moskal Senior Writer Wendy Payton Administrative Director Felicity Rafalski

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ON OUR COVER: The Alam family at the beach on Sanibel. Image: Milissa Sprecher.

Enjoy Both Best of Islands ONLY $15



Room With A View What’s your favorite kind of vacation destination? Each issue, COASTE opens the door and takes you on a tour of one of Southwest Florida’s premier places to rest, relax, reconnect and recharge your body and soul. The Celebration House at Captiva Island Inn is a one-of-a-kind vacation destination in the heart of Captiva Village. The house features a spectacular 5,200 square feet of living space that can be reserved entirely for events like small weddings, family retreats or fun vacations with friends — or rented individually by floor, including the second floor with three bedrooms, three private full baths, half bath, gourmet kitchen and large living, or the top floor with two bedrooms, two private baths, kitchen and living room. If you like the bed and breakfast approach, you can even reserve an individual room! The house features a stunning pool area, plus the Gulf of Mexico is a short stroll down the road, with dining and entertainment only steps away.





Where’s a person to find a mouthwatering donut with a fresh, tasty cup o’ joe around here? Well, in Southwest Florida, go where the locals flock — Bennett’s Fresh Roast in downtown Fort Myers and Sanibel.

blueberry pancakes, New England lobster rolls and breakfast strata, but the exotic “donut dog” and “chicken & donut” too.

But the Bennett’s Fresh Roast story begins with its namesake — the coffee. Silky, complex, bold and served piping hot, an initial encounter with a Bennett’s brew tantalizes like a toothsome tango — the heady aromatic steam intoxicates, leading to that first, sultry sip — a ritual that taunts your senses and leaves you enraptured

Bennett's roasts nearly 800 pounds of coffee, fries up 15,000 from- scratch, hand-cut donuts, and feeds thousands each month.

Owned and operated by longtime WINK- FM morning radio personality with the stage name C. David Bennett (real name: Bob Grissinger), along with husband Frankie Albano, sister Ann Munro and brother-in-law Roger Munro, Bennett’s roasts

nearly 800 pounds of coffee, fries up 15,000 from- scratch, hand-cut donuts, and feeds thousands each month from a colorful menu that includes not only

under its spell. Order it straight up or as an espresso, latte, cappuccino — or go all out with a French press pot. It’s pure java genius.



What’s the secret? Bennett’s Fresh Roast brainchild Bob Grissinger dishes that “our pre-infusion brewing process allows us to extract the best flavor from some of the world’s finest coffee beans, andwe roast the day before we serve it, so it’s very fresh. It’s a bit unconventional because typically, roasters allow coffee to rest a minimum of 72 hours. Major

dough, glaze and icing recipes just a month before we opened in February 2008.”

That experimentation gave rise to big results for Grissinger. In this case it’s a plump, pillowy parcel of perfection encased in a golden, slightly crispy outside that’ll stand up to Bennett’s robust coffee, and make one’s toes tingle with sugary exuberance. It all starts with their from- scratch sweetened potato dough that’s set out to rise to three times its size, then fried up with zero trans- fats. And they’re all made from scratch, every day, by Bennett’s donut masters. “All of our icings and glazes are homemade in-shop using real extracts, oils and cocoas,” Grissinger adds. The Bennett’s Fresh Roast design is donut architecture at its most perfect — or as close to it as you can get. In 2013, Bennett and assistant Lisa

chains have a period of up to four months before the coffee they roast hits their stores. That means there’s a notable lack of off-flavors such as mildew or rancidity in a Bennett’s cup of coffee.” Indeed. But if Grissinger’s culinary smarts start with coffee beans, his end-all, be-all

“We extract the best flavor from some of the world’s finest coffee beans, and we roast the day before we serve it, so it’s very fresh.”

brilliance is the donut. After all, coffee demands its companion — although that turned out to be no easy task. “I researched various recipes, including many Pennsylvania Dutch Fastnacht holiday donut recipes,” Grissinger says. “After about a year of testing on friends every weekend, I finalized the



Bronchetti placed second on the Cooking Channel and Food Network’s “Donut Showdown.”

let the growth of those two locations continue,” Grissinger says. “Who knows what opportunities lurk around the corner?” Who knows, indeed — but it’ll likely knock over a strong cup ‘o joe and a raspberry jelly donut with almond icing.

“I’ve been an amateur cook all my life. I regularly read cookbooks and periodicals,” Grissinger shares humbly. But cooking is in his blood. “My parents were Pennsylvanians who had an appreciation for cooking by the Pennsylvania Dutch.” His favorite part about Bennett’s? “Fresh, quality, homemade.” After college, Grissinger became a full-time radio personality, moving to Fort Myers in 1984 to work for WINK-FM, where he was director of programming. He also adopted his alter-ego, C. David Bennett, as co-host of the popular morning radio show, Bennett & Birch. Bennett’s Fresh Roast derives his name from Grissinger’s radio days.

Give in to the temptation. Visit bennettsfreshroast. com for hours, locations and menu information.


Bennett’s Frest Roast

What’s next for Bennett’s? “It took is six years to open a second location, and now it’s time to






It’s a warm, sunny Southwest Florida Sunday as we make our way down the narrow boardwalk at the Sanibel Marina and are welcomed aboard. There’s a comfortable camaraderie among the

approaches the moment it’ll exit the island’s no wake zone. And then, that moment arrives — and the twin 440 horsepower engines roar as Captain J.R. Ireland puts the pedal to the metal,

40-plus strangers who have gathered and are now seated row after row, a noticeable buzz of excitement in the conversations and comments over the experience to be shared.

so to speak, setting us off on our 90-minute, high- speed, sea-sprayed and adrenalin- rushed adventure.

The Sanibel Thriller rates among the top two island attractions as ranked by TripAdvisor travelers.

Sanibel and Captiva Islands are well defined by a relaxed style, a quiet pace and easy-going recreation — which perhaps explains why, since its maiden voyage in December of 2008, the Sanibel Thriller ranks among the top two island attractions as rated by TripAdvisor travelers. There’s literally nothing like it here, and only a few like it in all of Florida.

The guttural growl of idling engines churns the harbor water and provides a dramatic soundtrack to the tour guide’s instructions. And then, we cast off and slowly pilot our way toward the open water of San Carlos Bay.

Like a sprinter at the starting line, the Sanibel Thriller (and all aboard) slowly, anxiously


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Owners J.R. and Elizabeth Ireland are the husband and wife team who have hosted thousands of vacationers on their one-of-a-kind experience over six-plus years, and it’s been a remarkable run of fun. “It’s a great trip,” Elizabeth explains. “Everyone who gets off the boat, they love the trip and the unique views of the islands we give them.” The brainchild of J.R.’s father Myton Ireland, who owns Sanibel Marina, the Thriller is a 55-foot super catamaran that was originally designed for offshore racing. The elder Ireland thought the idea would

one tour daily. Tickets are $43 for adults and $35 for kids (ages three to 12), and due to popularity, reservations are required for every excursion. Onepart of thedraw, of course, is theTopGunMaverick character in all of us — our need for speed. Here, as we blaze north along Sanibel’s teal coastline toward Captiva, the Thriller doesn’t disappoint, cutting through the water smoothly and almost effortlessly at 31 knots (nearly 40 miles per hour). Note to self: hold onto your hats.

Another obvious and exciting draw is the chance to witness

be a terrific tourist draw, and he was right. In season, the Sanibel Thriller provides tours four times daily, seven days a week and off season,

the wonders of wildlife, up close and personal. “While cruising along the Gulf of Mexico and Pine Island Sound we respectfully point out different

17 17

species of wildlife — such as dolphins, manatees, osprey, bald eagles and white pelicans, just to name a few,” Ms. Ireland states. “During that time we give educational information to passengers about the wildlife we’re seeing. We want to share with passengers our love of the water and all of the nature that share it. Our goal is that people walk away from our experience eager to preserve our beautiful island and all of its wildlife, so that future generations are able to enjoy it, as our family has since the 1950s.” The Thriller tour circumnavigates Sanibel and Captiva Islands, a trip that covers approximately 40 miles — and 700 years. Yes, history is also a part of the Thriller experience: from Calusa shell mounds, to tales of Jose Gaspar and pirates, to the late 1800s inhabitants of Sanibel and Captiva, to present day events from Hurricane Charley and

the new causeway.

And then, like that, 90 minutes has passed in a flash as Captain J.R. throttles back, and we’re n o - w a k e - z o n i n g again. “We think we provide our guests a truly unique island experience,” Elizabeth Ireland states. “We combine beauty, nature and history with a little power and speed, and that’s something you can’t enjoy anywhere else in Southwest Florida.” The hundreds of positive reviews on TripAdvisor would agree. “We loved our time on the Sanibel Thriller,” writes a woman from Chicago. “Totally worth every penny and a great price for a 90-minute ride. We saw lots of dolphins and listening to the history and fun facts made our time even better. Can’t wait to come back to Sanibel and go on another ride!”

The Thriller tour circumnavigates Sanibel and Captiva Islands, a trip that covers approximately 40 miles — and 700 years.

} { Sanibel Thriller (239) 472-2328 634 N. Yachtsman Dr. Sanibel, FL



TAKE FIVE “If you’re not going forward, you’re not going at all.”

By John Sprecher

Tony Lapi serves as Chief Executive Officer of Rochester Resorts, parent corporation of ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa of Captiva, as well as Beachview Cottages and Castaways Cottages of Sanibel. Lapi was one of the original investors who purchased ‘Tween Waters Inn in 1976 and has grown the resort from 47 cottages “that needed work” to 137 luxury accommodations and two of TripAdvisor’s top-rated Captiva restaurants. Over the course of his 40-plus years in hospitality, Lapi has also served on a variety of local tourism organizations, including the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce, Lee County Tourist Development Council and six years on the board of VISIT FLORIDA, including one year as Chairman of the Board. Each issue, “Take Five” poses five questions to a community leader that have not been shared in advance. Here, Tony Lapi discusses the changes and challenges he’s seen in tourism, his commitment to giving back to the community and his look into the future.



1 You’ve been part of the hospitality industry for a long time. What is the biggest change you’ve seen over the years? Technology. Once upon a time, it took a phone call to make a reservation. Now you can do it anytime and almost anywhere. With rates published everywhere — Travelocity, Expedia and all those — there’s a lot more competition and with social media, everybody is under the microscope. 2 At the same time, what’s the most important element that hasn’t changed? When a guest comes here for the first time, we don’t know their expectations — but it’s up to us, from our advertising to how we answer the phone to how we welcome them and care for them while they’re here — to imprint such a positive experience on them that when they leave, they want to come back. In a word, hospitality. You’re extensively involved in the tourism industry, publicly and privately. How does Lee County stay competitive in the chase for tourism dollars? When people come to our part of Florida, they want sunshine, beaches and nature. I think a competitive advantage we have, especially here on Sanibel and Captiva, is how we embrace those things. Plus I think the VCB does a great job of selling the beauty and variety of all the different places and unique experiences that Lee County has to offer. Your corporation is a significant contributor to many non-profit community organizations. Where does that commitment to give come from? I think as you grow up, you find mentors who influence you and I had that as it relates to giving. And once you taste how good it is to give, you want to expose your company and your employees to it. It makes you part of the community, it welds you to the community. You’re not just a business taking money and going home, you’re helping people. You’re very hands-on with your resorts. Do you ever plan on slowing down? That’s a good question. My body will tell me I guess, and I have slowed down a little physically. But it’s funny, my mind is still in the game, sometimes I’ll wake up at three or four in the morning with some idea and write it down — you know, if you’re not going forward, you’re not going at all. 3 4 5


Meet the Little Farm in North Fort Myers That’s Feeding the World

22 30 24


Just off Route 31 outside Fort Myers sits a gem of a plant nursery. In fact, the farm maintains one of the largest collections of tropical food plants in the United States. On any given Saturday morning, the place buzzes like a swarm of bees as gardeners and food growers “in the know” wade through rare, hardy, Florida-friendly landscaping, fruit and vegetable varietals, looking to enhance a backyard or add some home-grown goodness to the table. Along with their greenery, business is growing — at a rate of 10% from year to year.

Africa. For a vast network of aid organizations that include UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO), ECHO acts as a hub to share information about the latest discoveries and best practices in agriculture to meet the challenges of small farming around the world. Rick Burnette, ECHO Director of Agriculture and head of agricultural training, began development work in Thailand in the early 1980s, and was first introduced to ECHO as a result of his agricultural

development efforts there. He partnered with ECHO, sharing information and providing feedback for the seeds and techniques tried

This tucked-away 5o-acre plot of Southwest Florida soil serves as base camp for agricultural and appropriate technology training of aid workers in more than 165 countries.

But look beyond this charming tree stand and you’ll discover an active agricultural worksite with, yes, worldwide impact. The fact is, ECHO — Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization — is a 34-year-old

in the region over many years. He joined ECHO full- time in 2009, first as Regional Impact Center Director in Thailand, then transferring to his current role stateside last year. “The reality is that people in these affected areas are suffering from malnutrition and hunger, and they don’t know how they can change their situation,” Burnette reflects. “The techniques we gather from our networks and dispense to others teach farmers how they can use at-hand materials and practical farming methods to provide for themselves and become self-sufficient.”

Christian-based, non-profit non-denominational organization committed to reducing starvation and malnourishment among the world’s 925 million hungry people. This tucked-away 50-acre plot of Southwest Florida soil serves as base camp for the agricultural and appropriate technology training of aid workers in more than 165 countries. ECHO operates Regional Impact Centers in Thailand, Tanzania and Burkina Faso, and a long-term research station in South



ECHO’s Public Relations Specialist, Danielle Flood, shares a powerful example. “In Tanzania there’s a woman who learned new techniques of farming corn, allowing her to improve her corn yield using less farmland, so she kept her family

high soil salinity levels that resulted from seawater immersion,” Burnette explains. “Some of the same techniques we teach in urban gardening became important for survival during recovery when the farmland wasn’t usable for the crops they had planted.”

fed.” But with the now- extra land, the woman “planted fruit trees and a high-value vanilla crop — and through this diversification she established a business that generated the

Sixty employees in four countries are supported by the efforts of 350 volunteers, many of which are students or corporate retirees.

Sixty employees in four countries are supported by the efforts of 350 volunteers, many of which are students or corporate retirees settled in Southwest Florida. ECHO offers 10 highly sought after internships per year to

income to put her first- born through college.” Flood smiles. “This is just one story of the countless differences ECHO makes.”

college graduates in serious pursuit of international agricultural development. Men and women from the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain, Kenya and other countries have participated in this program, where they’re required to take

ECHO also steps in to help after disaster strikes. “After super-typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, the ECHO network helped farmers cope with



complete ownership and care for one of the farm’s agricultural habitats for one year.

simply by planting seeds individually instead of in traditional clumps. For so many around the world, this ingenuity from ECHO can make all the difference in sustaining a family or community, and producing an economic benefit from which people can thrive. If you take the roughly two-hour tour, be sure to bring along a note pad, pencil and camera. There’s bound to be a plant or technique that you’ll want to remember, research or share with friends. Personable and approachable, the tour guides can provide a wealth of information about what intrigues and inspires.

Visitors to the farm can take a guided walking tour for a first-hand look at the creative small farming

techniques being applied in ways appropriate to the resources of seven different climates around the world, including tropical rainforest and lowlands to rocky climbs and dense urban spaces —and from a self- sustaining tilapia farm to a pig stall that lacks stench.

Some of the solutions may seem downright surprising, like growing thriving pepper plants with an old scrap of carpet and a five- gallon bucket.

Some of the solutions may seem downright surprising, like growing thriving pepper plants with an old scrap of carpet and a five-gallon bucket turned upside down — or how to double a rice yield

A can’t-miss at ECHO is the fascinating Appropriate Technology tour. Scientists explain



simple technologies made from local and recycled materials that can be used to help provide food and water to the underserved. See how sand can filter water; how a moringa plant can convert dirty water into potable; how manure can convert to energy; and how a bicycle can run a power saw. ECHO is currently building an additional component to its tours. By the end of the year, it will open a venue that demonstrates how local markets function in three different parts of the world, and how its farming and appropriate technologies can impact sustainability and economic opportunities in the at-risk regions. More than one million people have visited — where 9,000-plus aid workers, scientists and partners have created individual profiles on ECHO’s community network site, and where front-line development personnel share the latest information and solve problems within niche groups and forums. ECHO

provides its complete library of documents in several languages in PDF format for immediate retrieval, and efforts are underway to reformat the literature into a searchable web format so people can find identify relevant topics faster and easier than ever. On Saturday, March 21st, ECHO hosts its 23rd annual Global Food and Farm Festival, which shines a spotlight on sustainable living, agriculture and food. Thousands of visitors experience life in a foreign country and explore the Global Farm, sampling exotic foods at international cooking stations, taking in farming technique demonstrations, children’s activities, workshops and more. It’s a great way to explore the farm and its mission.

Yes, 50 acres isn’t a lot of land to feed the world.

But like the little train that could, ECHO is helping to do just that.


{ } ECHO

27 27

Welcome Home

Each issue, COASTE opens the door and welcomes you to tour of one of Southwest Florida’s premier homes. After all, living here is more than a lifestyle. It’s a soul style.

Welcome to Captiva luxury living at its most spectacular. Built in 2009, this Gulf-front home with adjacent guest home totals over 8,500 square feet of stunning living space, with seven bedrooms, five full baths, plus beautiful room after room of contemporary, Euro-influenced wow factor. Bonus: the home features Gulf-front pool with breathtaking views, two levels of panoramic views of Captiva’s legendary sunsets, as well as quiet privacy surrounded by nature. Price: $7,699,000. Listing agent: Brooks Selby, Royal Shell Real Estate.





What’s Happening on Your

February + March — Community Events

Feb 6

ART WALK Feb 6 Fort Myers Downtown River District features a extra-special Art Walk event to kick off ArtFest Fort Myers. Art buyers and enthusiasts meet local artists during exhibit openings at the many downtown galleries, art spaces and shops that sell fine art. Event happens from 6-9 PM.

Feb 7-8

ARTFEST FORT MYERS Feb 7-8 ArtFest enlivens the Fort Myers waterfront with exceptional creativity, entertainment and children’s activities. Discover high-quality, original works by more than 200 artists participating in this juried show. Fun with the whole family! 10 AM-5 PM both days.

Feb 15

EDISON FESTIVAL OF LIGHT JUNIOR PARADE Feb 15 The 67th annual Junior Parade in the downtown Fort Myers River District begins at 2:30 PM and features more than 100 floats, bands, and costumed troupes. The crowning of the Junior King & Queen takes place at 4 PM in the Harborside Event Center. Free for the whole family to attend. www.

Feb 20

MUSIC WALK Feb 20 Over a dozen participating venues feature live performances. Restaurants, bars, art galleries, and shops showcase a wide range of Southwest Florida talent, from jazz and blues to rock, drums and more. Free from 6-10 PM. EDISON FESTIVAL OF LIGHT CRAFTS ON THE RIVER Feb 20-22 A hundred exhibitors display handicrafts during three free days: Friday and Saturday, 10 AM-5 PM; Sunday, 10 AM-4 PM. Exhibitors from across the U.S. sell artful jewelry, quilts, handmade crafts, paintings, ceramics, pottery, and more. Feb 20- 22



EDISON FESTIVAL OF LIGHT PARTY, GRAND PARADE & FIREWORKS Feb 22 The venerable festival is now in its 75th year! Beginning at noon at Centennial Park in downtown Fort Myers, the route winds through crowd-lined downtown streets. Live music begins at 7 PM, followed by a spectacular fireworks show. Event is free. BURROWING OWL FESTIVAL Feb 28 This festival at Rotary Park, Cape Coral entertains, complete with educational programs, hands-on activities, guided nature walks, butterfly house and bus tours to the City’s famous active owl burrows. Event runs 10 AM-4 PM, and includes silent auction, ice cream and lunch options. $5 donation for adults; children under 16, free. Email Feb 28 CLASSIC CAR SHOW & CRUISE-IN Feb 22 Classic vehicles line Fort Myers’ Edwards Drive for a packed day of nostalgia and admiration. Cruise in with your classic or come by to check ‘em out and meet the owners. Enjoy food, beverages, Crafts on the River event and the Vintage Market. Feb 22 Feb 22

Mar 6

ART WALK Mar 6 Join the monthly Art Walk in downtown Fort Myers from 6-10 PM to take in quality art exhibits, live artist demos, discussions, presentations and other cultural events. More than 45 Art Walk galleries, shops and restaurants participate with special events and promotions.

DOWNTOWN FORT MYERS BIKE NIGHT Mar 14 Rev it up at Bike Night, featuring live music on four different stages, motorcycle vendors, and refreshments from the eclectic mix of bars and restaurants in downtown. It’s one of the largest bike shows in Southwest Florida. Free admission. Event begins at 6 PM. Mar 14

Mar 14-15

SHRIMP FESTIVAL AND PARADE Mar 14-15 Celebrate the 57th Fort Myers Beach shrimp harvest on Saturday with a 10 AM parade and Shrimp Queen crowning. Craft vendors, boiled shrimp concession and food booths fill Lynn Hall Memorial Park with the smells of freshly prepared seafood. More than 20,000 people attend the free event each year, gobbling up more than 48,000 boiled shrimp prepared by the local Lions Club.



February + March — Community Events Continued

Mar 20

MUSIC WALK Mar 20 Music Walk brings great rhythm and vibrant energy to the historic streets of downtown Fort Myers as music lovers descend on the River District to discover free live music from jazz and blues to rock n’ roll. Restaurants, bars, art galleries and shops showcase the area’s best musicians. 6-10 PM. Mar 21 SOUTHWEST FLORIDA READING FESTIVAL Mar 21 Something for all ages at this reading festival, happening 10 AM-4 PM in the Fort Myers River District. Celebrity authors reveal their secrets and sign their books. Kids will be mesmerized by the storytellers, and every child and teen receives a free book of their choice. Fun family activities include face painting, readings, drawings and more. FORT MYERS FILM FESTIVAL Mar 25-29 The Fort Myers Film Festival presents the finest independent cinematic works at its fifth annual event. A reputation for edgy and fresh programming, the festival receives submissions from more than 20 countries. Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, Alliance for the Arts and Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre host screenings. Tickets for the opening gala are $19; $99 for VIP. Other film viewings are $10 and for the award ceremony, $15. Mar 25- 29

February + March — In Concert

Feb +Mar

ISLAND JAZZ Feb 1, 15, 22 Mar 1, 8, 15, 22 Now in its tenth season of free Sunday 3-4 PM afternoon concerts at Sanibel Island’s BIG ARTS Boler Garden, Island Jazz features many of the best jazz musicians in southwest Florida, playing all styles of music from the standards and Dixieland to bop, pop and more. More details at

THIRD COAST PERCUSSION Feb 5 Hailed by The New Yorker as “vibrant” and “superb,” this fabulous foursome expands the extraordinary sonic possibilities of the percussion repertoire. They’ve gained national attention with concerts and recordings that meld the energy of rock with the precision of classical chamber works. General admission is $42. Show starts at 7:30 PM.

Feb 5

ALMOST MANILOW Feb 6-8 Almost Manilow recreates the Manilow concert experience for legions of fans that continue to come out and see Barry. Charlie Vee, “Barry’s biggest fan,” leads the group as Barry, interjecting humorous stories and anecdotes while recreating Barry Manilow’s biggest hits. See it at Cape Coral’s Cultural Park for $20.




February + March — In Concert Continued

Feb 6-7

POPS I: THE MUSIC OF CHAMPIONS Feb 6-7 Southwest Florida Symphony presents this season’s pop series at Barbara B. Mann

Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers. Featuring sports themes, fight songs and the sounds of team spirit, you’ll get a charge out of this energetic performance, with guest narration from John Gordon, retired announcer for the Minnesota Twins. 8 PM curtain time. Tickets $20-82 at Feb 11 SALUT D’AMOUR—LOVE’S GREETING Feb 11 Southwest Florida Symphony presents Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik,” Verdi’s “String Symphony in E minor,” De Falla’s “El Amor Brujo, Ritual Fire Dance,” Elgar’s “Salut d’Amour” and Ibert’s “Divertissement.” See it at Schein Performance Hall, Sanibel, beginning at 8 PM.

DIANA ROSS Feb 16 The legendary Diana Ross graces Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at 7:30 PM in Fort Myers. Ross’ remarkable career spans almost five decades, starting with her first hit with the Supremes, “Where Did Our Love Go.” A consummate performer, Ms. Ross is one of the most iconic female singers of all time. Tickets, $74-$138.

Feb 16

Feb 17

JACKSON BROWNE Feb 17 Jackson Browne defined a genre of songwriting charged with honesty, emotion and personal politics. His new studio album, “Standing In The Breach,” explors love, hope, and defiance in the face of the advancing uncertainties of modern life. See him perform at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers. 7:30 PM. Tickets, $74-$138. JAY AND THE AMERICANS Feb 19 Jay & The Americans have reached musical heights with 18 hits and 12 Top-10 records in the 1960s. The group performs “This Magic Moment,” “Cara Mia,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” and more. Dennis Tufano of The Buckinghams joins them for this special trip down memory lane. $44-$65 seats available. Show starts at 7:30 PM. SVETLANA SMOLINA Feb 19 The Los Angeles Times hails Svetlana Smolina as an “outstanding Russian pianist with a luxuriant tone.” Her recent notable solo appearances with orchestras include Mariinsky Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, New York Philharmonic at Avery Fischer Hall, Orchestre National de France, Odessa and Nizhny Novgorod Philharmonic. See her at Sanibel’s Schein Performance Hall at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $42. Children and students, $5. Feb 19

Feb 19


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JACK JONES Feb 20 Jack Jones may be most recognized as the smooth crooner behind the iconic theme for TV’s “The Love Boat.” He scored 1960s-era Grammy winners, “Lollipops and Roses,” “Wives and Lovers, “The Impossible Dream” and”A Very Precious Love.” Enjoy Jones’ performance at Schein Performance Hall on Sanibel, beginning at 8 PM. Tickets are $42. Children and students, $5. February + March - In Concert Continued

Feb 20

Feb 21

MUSIC OF MOTOWN Feb 28 This energetic performance features songs from Motor City’s golden age. Sing along to AMERICAN VIRTUOSI Feb 27 The American Virtuosi Chamber Concert returns to Sidney & Berne Davis Arts Center in downtown Fort Myers. Hear music of the great masters combined with the talent of a renowned group that includes violinists Peter Winograd and Caterina Szepes, cellist Andres Diaz, violist Jim Griffith, and pianist Wendy Chen. Show begins at 8 PM. Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door. Feb 28 Rhapsody in Blue and his Piano Concerto in F. Join in on the extra-special evening to celebrate the 20th Anniversary season of the Gulf Coast Symphony. Tickets range from $42-$75, available at www. A black tie dinner (additional $150 ticket required) takes place after the concert. For dinner reservations visit Feb 27 blockbusters “My Girl,” “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “Stop, In the Name of Love,” “Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing” and many more. See it at Schein Performance Hall, Sanibel, beginning at 8 PM. $42 general admission. Children and students, $5. GLORY OF GERSHWIN Feb 22 Melissa Errico and Di Wu take to the stage for a 6 PM program that includes Gershwin’s THE OAK RIDGE BOYS Mar 2 After 40 years of touring, the Oak Ridge Boys have a rare knack for making the audience feel a warm and comfortable, patriotic and spiritual energy. Duane, Joe, Richard and William Lee provide a full evening of entertainment that’s perfect to spend among friends. Appearing in Fort Myers at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. The band takes the stage at 7:30 PM. Find tickets from $42-62 at Mar 2 MASTERWORKS III: VIVA ESPAÑA Feb 21 Southwest Florida Symphony transports the audience back to Europe with Viva España! This Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall concert features De falla’s Interlude & Dance from La Vida Breve, Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole, Op. 21 performed by Carl Flesch International Violin Competition silver medalist, Elissa Lee Koljonen, Massenet’s Ballet Music from El Cid and Rimsky- Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34. Performance opens at 8 PM. A 7 PM pre-concert lecture is available. $20-$82 tickets are available at Feb 22


TOMMY EMMANUEL Mar 5 Two-time Grammy nominee guitarist Tommy Emanuel is one of Australia’s most respected musical imports. Guitar players of all levels see his shows to watch him work magic. His performances exude humorous, passionate and infectious joy. See him at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers at 7:30 PM. Tickets range from $43-54. Mar 5 THE PINK FLOYD EXPERIENCE Mar 7 PFX-The Pink Floyd Experience performs “Four Sides of Floyd,” complete with a spectacular light show, full quadraphonic sound and six brilliant musicians covering four album sides off four classic Pink Floyd albums as well as their biggest hits. An epic concert for Pink Floyd fans. See it at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at 8 PM. $30-$40. Mar 7

JOY BEHAR Mar 8 Behar, comic original, stage and screen leading woman and successful author, headlines at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers at 7:30 PM. Best known for her Emmy- winning performance on “The View,” she was a member of the cast for 16 years. She also hosted her own talk shows, “The Joy Behar Show” on HLN and “Say Anything” on Current TV. Tickets available from $36-$58 at

Mar 8

Mar 11

DVORÁK: From the New World Mar 11 Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra presents an acclaimed multimedia presentation that tells the story of the gifted composer Antonín Dvorák, conducted by Leif Bjaland. This “Discovery” concert at Schein Performance Hall on Sanibel begins at 8:00 PM, and employs visual images with music to explore the history and meaning of the works. Tickets are $36 for adults. $5 for children and students. POPS II: TRIBUTE TO ERICH KUNZEL Mar 13-14 Southwest Florida Symphony performs live at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. Special guest conductor Jim Stephenson leads this touching and powerful tribute that honors the legacy of his late mentor, Erich Kunzel, a nationally known maestro who conducted the Southwest Florida Symphony and the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra. 8 PM start. Tickets $20-$82. Mar 13- 14

Mar 20

TOM CHAPIN Mar 20 Schein Performance Hall of Sanibel presents at 7:30 PM the singer-songwriter, storyteller and guitarist Tom Chapin, younger brother of the late Harry Chapin. The younger Chapin has recorded 23 albums and earned three Grammy awards during his five-decade career. Admission is $37. Children and students pay just $5.



February + March - In Concert Continued

Jan 22

DOO WOP & ROCK N’ ROLL Mar 26 Malt Shop Memories Cruise and RNE Present Richard Nader’s Doo Wop & Rock N’ Roll at 7:30 PM at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. The all-star line-up includes “Duke of Earl” crooner Gene Chandler, ‘60s group The Capris, Dave Somerville of the Diamonds, The Vogues, Tommy Mara and the Crests, and more. Tickets are $33-$65. SIMPLY STREISAND Mar 27 You won’t believe it’s not Babs! Award-winning Carla Del Villaggio is a tribute artist with the look and sound of Barbara Streisand — from hair to nails, to show-stopping vocals. Carla recreates the excitement and high energy of Streisand’s most powerful numbers. See her perform at Cape Coral’s Cultural Park for $20 per ticket. Mar 27 Mar 27 THE TEXAS TENORS Mar 27 Find out why The Texas Tenors are quickly becoming America’s favorite new tenors — nd are taking the world by storm. Hot off their hit PBS special and a Billboard Top 10 album, “You Should Dream,” the Texas Tenors invade Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at 8 PM. Tickets available at $26-$52. Mar 28 MASTERWORKS IV: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE Mar 28 Southwest Florida Symphony performs at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at 8 PM. The event boasts Joshua Bell’s touring accompanist and pianist Alessio Bax, performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Other Masterworks IV pieces include Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture and Mussorgsky/Ravel’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Tickets range from $20-$82. BEST OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBER AND RICHARD RODGERS Mar 29 Gulf Coast Symphony appears at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at 7 PM. Broadway stars Stephen Buntrock and Morgan James are joined by local favorite Mark Sanders in a tribute to the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Rodgers & Hammerstein. This show is one night only, and is sure to sell out. Tickets available between $42-$75 at Mar 29

February + March - On Stage

Thru Feb 14

CRAZY FOR YOU Thru Feb 14 Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre presents the story of Bobby Child, a well-to-do 1930s

playboy with a dream to dance. This is a high-energy comedy of mistaken identities, plot twists, fabulous costumes, and magnificent dancing. Shows are Tuesday-Saturday evenings, with select matinee dates. Adult tickets, $37-$60; $22 for children ages 12 and under.


Dining Guide

CIP’S PLACE | SANIBEL MON-SUN 11 AM - CLOSE 2055 Periwinkle Way | 239.472.0223 |

Located in one of Sanibel’s most beautifully landscaped settings, Cip’s Place offers delightful, delicious menus for lunch and dinner. You’ll love their variety of signature dishes and enjoy the best seats in the house — outdoors on the garden patio or front porch, or indoors tabled, or at the friendly bar.


630 Tarpon Bay Road | 239.472.2625 | Over Easy Café is a highly popular gathering place for breakfast and lunch. Enjoy a hearty, home cooked menu of classic comfort foods — from pancakes to scrambled eggs, sandwiches to salads, tasty soups to terrific desserts. Breakfast is served all day, the outdoor seating is awesome, and gentle pets are welcome.


Aptly titled “slow-cooked fast food” and “comfort food for the soul,” The Pecking Order is a new dining delight that embraces its role to perpetuate fine Southern cookin’ — from secret-recipe broasted chicken (always fresh) — by the piece or bucket — to collard greens, black beans and rice, home-made mac and cheese, and more!

SANIBEL DELI & COFFEE FACTORY | SANIBEL MON 7 AM – 3 PM | TUES-SAT 7 AM – 8 PM | SUN 8 AM – 7 PM 2330 Palm Ridge Road| 239.472.2555 | Winner of “Best Pizza” at Taste of the Islands, the Sanibel Deli & Coffee Factory is a casual, comfortable place to sit down or take out fresh-made breakfasts, lunches or light dinners. You’ll also enjoy a delicious variety of coffees, plus more than 25 flavors of ice cream and frozen yogurt. Yum!


February + March - On Stage Continued FASCINATIN’ GERSHWIN Thru Mar 15

Thru Mar 15

A dazzling revue of the Gershwin Songbook comes to life in this original musical set in New York City, circa 1937. Written and conceived by Florida Repertory Theatre Founder and Artistic Director, Robert Cacioppo, this upbeat and glamorous evening at the theatre will have you singing “I’ve Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You,” “The Man I Love,” “Summertime,” and so many other favorites. Tickets are $45; previews are $25. FIRST DATE Thru Mar 7 In the Off Broadway second venue at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, a blind date over a casual drink at a busy New York restaurant turns into a hilarious, high-stakes dinner. This cheeky new Broadway musical unfolds in real time, and the couple discovers they are not alone during the unpredictable evening. Tickets, $31-$51 for adults, $24 for children ages 12 and younger. Performances are Tuesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees. Thru Mar 7 THE FOURTH WALL Thru Feb 21 Peggy has redecorated the living room and her husband, Roger, can’t stand it. Her usually exquisite taste was overcome by a mysterious lapse that caused her to redo the room as if it were a stage set. Everything faces one wall, the “fourth wall,” which she’s left bare — and which is really the audience. See it at BIG ARTS Herb Strauss Theater Tuesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 4 PM. Tickets are $42. Student and children are $5. Thru Feb 21 JOURNEY TO OZ Thru May 9 Transported to the magical Land of Oz, Dorothy and Toto must find the Wizard before it’s too late. This all-new, interactive adaptation for children puts attendees in the middle of the action as Dorothy and her friends find the brains, heart, and courage they never knew they had. $12 admission includes the performance, lunch and workshop with the actors. Select dates at Florida Repertory Theater in Fort Myers.

Thru May 9

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA Feb 1 Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s phenomenal musical comes to Fort Myers. This “Phantom” features a brilliant new scenic design, Tony Award®-winning original costume design, lighting design by Tony Award®-winner Paule Constable, new choreography and a new staging by director Laurence Connor. See it at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. Tickets are $59-$133.

Feb 1

MONDAY NIGHT FILM SERIES Feb 2, 9, 16, 23 Mar 2, 9, 16, 23 BIG ARTS Shein Performance Hall shows an important work of film each Monday evening beginning at 7 PM, followed by discussion and complimentary reception. See the website for a list of shows. Ticket, $8, or a book of 10 is $80. Feb +Mar


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