Little over two months after Hurricane Ian decimated Sanibel Deli & Coffee Factory, along with most of the islands’ businesses and homes, Jeff Weigel and his team celebrated its reopening at 2330 Palm Ridge Road with a Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting on Nov. 30.
Despite the fact that the deli endured extensive damage and lost about 80 percent of its equipment and all of its supplies, Weigel and his son, Noah, worked tirelessly nearly every day to rebuild.
“Community support. No waiting around. No excuses. Persistence and drive and planning,” he explained how he was able to open so quickly. “We dictated the result. The storm didn’t dictate our result.”
Known for its homemade soups, award-winning pizza, and popular Reuben sandwich, Sanibel Deli has a strong following to encourage its recovery. People stopped in to show their support and watch the progress, Weigel said.
“Businesses reopening ON the island is important to the community,” he added. “It shows a commitment from business owners to the island. It would be easy to pick up and just show up somewhere else, but opening up on the island shows a commitment to the island as well as your business. We were fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to rebuild. It proves it’s possible.”
“We stand behind Jeff and his strong commitment to seeing the island business climate edge toward normalcy while maintaining a sense of community,” said John Lai, chamber president and chief executive officer. “He sets a shining example.”
“The chamber, in promoting the businesses, will help revitalize traffic to the island,” said Weigel. “The awareness the chamber can create about the island and what’s here is going to help speed up recovery. This has been a lot of work, and the emotional side has been hard. There are so many great people out there who have really risen to the challenge.”
Sanibel Deli will serve a full menu daily, open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. the first week, with plans to expand hours to 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. following that.
ABOUT SANIBEL & CAPTIVA ISLANDS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to promoting the prosperity of its members and preserving the quality of life of our community. With more than 460 active Chamber members from both islands and businesses from Lee and Collier counties, the Chamber plays a key role in facilitating communication and cooperation between business, residents, and government to enhance the economic health of the islands. The Francis P. Bailey, Jr., Chamber Visitor Center is located at the entrance to Sanibel Island and welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year. VISIT FLORIDA named the visitor center one of 13 official Florida Certified Tourism Information Centers in the state. It is open 365 days a year and provides comprehensive information about things to do, places to visit, and where to stay, shop, and dine. The chamber website sanibel-captiva.org receives more than 1.3 million website visits per year.