The island dining scene continues to come back strong with two Sanibel restaurant openings celebrated by the SanCap Chamber the morning of April 11: The Original Cheeburger Cheeburger at 1975 Periwinkle Way and Wickies Lighthouse Restaurant at 362 Periwinkle Way.

Named for the immortal “Saturday Night Live” bit when it first opened in 1986, Cheeburger and its new owners added “The Original” to its name when they purchased the business just prior to Hurricane Ian. The new name recognizes the Sanibel restaurant’s lead in a franchise that spread across the nation after it first opened. Owners planned to renovate the classic island restaurant, and then Hurricane Ian pushed the envelope.

Cheeburger debuts a total facelift and a few new surprises on the menu, including chicken tacos, shrimp, and grouper in addition to its famous cheeseburgers – now made with 100 percent fresh Angus beef — sundaes, and milkshakes.

“We’ve had a full remodel, from floor to ceiling, and from  kitchen to bathrooms to dining room,” said general manager Sithembile Khumalo. “Perhaps our most obvious change is the addition of a large sports bar right in the center of our circular building. We plan to bring a roster of varied entertainment options to the island, fitting for both our family-friendly dining room as well as our bar patrons. And, we’ve added some really unique retro-vibe decorations to the space, including a red ’59 Corvette and yellow ’58 Indian Chief motorcycle.”

“Judging by the calls and emails we receive, visitors and islanders alike have eagerly awaited Cheeburger’s reopening,” said John Lai, SanCap Chamber president and CEO. “Not only does it bring back its popular repertoire of food and drink, but reinvents itself with fun décor and a new bar and entertainment area at its core.”

The new Wickies Lighthouse Restaurant held its soft opening April 1 for dinner and April 2 for breakfast and lunch, but owners considered its SanCap Chamber ribbon-cutting “our official announcement to the community that we are finally ready for you,” said co-owner Bridgit Kolshak. “We feel we have ironed out most of the early-stage kinks and are now taking reservations.”

The restaurant incorporates the best of former Sanibel landmark restaurant The Mad Hatter and The Island Cow in the spot where the longstanding Lighthouse Restaurant formerly resided.

“Wickies has become the perfect combination of both businesses,” said Kolshak. “We combined the relaxed, beachy feel of Island Cow with the upscale Mad Hatter menu items and ended up with something completely new for Sanibel.”

Bridget and Max Kolshak formerly owned The Mad Hatter, which Hurricane Ian wiped out. Friends and partners Brian and Elke Podlasek operated The Island Cow before fire destroyed it in August 2022. Both couples plan on reopening their original respective restaurants in time.

Earlier, in February, the partners opened The Magic Bus Ice Cream & Caffeine next door to Wickies, and that marriage has worked well, Kolshak said. The Magic Bus provides a place for guests to purchase Wickies merchandise and have dessert at the same time, returning the once-lively shopping and dining element to Sanibel’s East End.

The owners heard early on from neighborhood locals a need to serve dinner, so they added a bar as they completed renovations on every inch of the building.

“The space is bright and airy with a coastal modern feel,” said Kolshak. “We are very happy with the way it turned out, and visitors and locals alike love the food and are already return customers.”

“What a pleasure it was to cut the ribbon at this dream-come-true,” said John Lai, SanCap Chamber president and CEO. “Sanibel’s East End is once again a foodie destination, where some of the islands’ savviest restaurateurs have turned disaster into delight.”

“The chamber has been so great getting the word out for us,” said Kolshak. “They are the go-to place when tourists visit the island and being a member of the chamber is so beneficial for us to keep customers coming in.”


The SanCap Chamber 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. Its website,, receives over 1.3 million visits per year. For more information about the chamber, visit or contact John Lai, president and CEO, at 239-472-2348 or [email protected].