Sanibel Island continues to make headway toward recovery with the week’s partial reopenings of a landmark deli and top island attraction, both historic fixtures. The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce staged a ribbon-cutting at Huxters Market & Deli on Tuesday, March 14, at 1203 Periwinkle Way; and another at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on Thursday, March 16, at 3883 Sanibel-Captiva Road.
“We welcome the optimism and breakthrough victory of these two important elements of our community,” said John Lai, chamber president and CEO. “We encourage others to follow their lead in creating a well-planned path to full recovery in manageable steps. The community is so happy at each and every sign of normalcy that returns to our beloved islands.”
Huxters took its first step toward recovery by opening a food truck on Dec. 12 for serving its deli dishes to a grateful fan base.
“David Geyer is our store manager,” said Susan Murphy, who has owned Huxters with her husband, Dan, since 2014. “He and his team have performed miracles by opening the food truck and getting the store ready to open. I don’t know what we would have done without them. All this while they have also been dealing with Ian’s aftermath at their homes.”
In operation on Sanibel since the 1950s — originally a truck selling tomatoes and later a produce stand — Huxters has been feeding islanders for decades. The owners are thankful they were able to open their second liquor store, Sanibel Spirits, early on at Jerry’s shopping center, and to sell fresh-made sandwiches and snacks from the truck so soon in the game.
“We have had so many customers tell us how much they appreciate us being open, and we’re grateful for their support,” said Murphy. “Keeping our employees has been our top priority and they have come through for us with flying colors.”
She also thanked the chamber for getting the word out about Huxters’ and other businesses reopenings. “We always love to hear who is up and running and like to cheer on our fellow business owners.”
CROW evacuated its animal patients to the Animal Refuge Center in North Fort Myers before Hurricane Ian hit and returned them and its hospital and rehabilitation team home on March 15. It has now opened most of the exhibits in its Visitor Education Center, but currently does not have its animal ambassadors on show nor all its programs running.
“Hopefully our full education program will be back up and running this summer,” said Executive Director Alison Charney Hussey. “We do offer educational programs to schools and organizations.”
The clinic’s rehab enclosures suffered the most damage, she said. Staff is working with contractors to replace about a third of them with stronger, more resilient versions.
Currently, the Visitor Education Center and its gift shop open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. free-of-charge. Its website and social media channels keep visitors up-to-date on new information.
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. 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 chamber website receives more than 1.3 million website visits per year. For more information about the chamber, visit sanibel-captiva.org or contact John Lai, president and CEO, at 239-472-2348 or [email protected].