The Jacaranda Restaurant has switched hands and the new owners are nearing an opening date.
Reopening as The Jac Island Grille and Rum Bar, Eve and Alex Alves purchased the restaurant from Dr. Darayes Mobed, who had owned the venue since 2005, in November. Over the past couple months, Eve Alves has been gutting and updating the site for her farm-to-table scratch kitchen and restaurant.
“It’s a total remodel,” she said, adding that the plumbing and wiring had to be redone. “Brand new tile in and out. The bathrooms were redone – we built a bar inside the restaurant to open it up.”
Alves described the new decor as Florida and Sanibel Island-y.
“So it’s a lot of light wood,” she said of the before and after. “It’s like day and night.”
Born and raised in the restaurant business, Alves’ parents immigrated from Cyprus in the 1940s. Residing in New York and later Miami, the first family restaurant was a Jewish deli in 1968.
“He had a total of five restaurants,” she said of her father.
Alves attended culinary school in London, England.
She had a restaurant in Key Largo, which was part of the family for 36 years, and has owned and operated Luna Rossa Italian Grill, in the Miromar Outlets in Fort Myers, for about a decade.
Her husband works for Congress Jewelers.
“We’re really excited,” she said of acquiring the Jacaranda Restaurant. “I thought it was a great location on the island. It’s got its own lake out there and it’s really pretty.”
Alves noted that her new sign should be in the ground in about a week or two.
“I’m just waiting on my certificate of occupancy,” she said.
She is planning for a soft opening after the liquor and health inspections.
“All of my restaurants are scratch kitchens,” Alves said. “Everything’s made in-house.”
Farm-to-table means locally-grown organic vegetables and fresh seafood and meat.
“We take pride in what we serve and what goes on the plate,” she said.
Like its name indicates, the restaurant will have a speciality drink with rum.
“Like a mojito,” Alves said.
Philipe Schroeder has been hired as the executive chef.
“He created a brand new menu for me,” she said.
After attending culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco, Schroeder worked in restaurants for five years in Hawaii. He then moved to Austin, Texas, landing a job at the premier steakhouse.
“It has a really great farm-to-table environment,” he said of Austin. “I was able to learn how to make every single thing from scratch.”
When asked about the menu, Schroeder explained that the key is fresh.
“It’ll be a lot of local seafood and some really good steaks – all cut in-house. I make my own bread and buns,” he said. “A couple of pasta dishes, and we’re going to be making that fresh in house.”
Schroeder noted that there will plenty of gluten-free options.
“To really open up the menu for everybody,” he said.
In the scratch kitchen-manner, all of the desserts will also be made in-house.
“I think the biggest thing that I want to bring to the table here is the freshness,” Schroeder said.
“I want this to be a restaurant worth going to, a destination all by itself,” he added.
The Jac Island Grille and Rum Bar will be open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 a.m., serving lunch and dinner. On Saturdays and Sundays, it will open at 9 a.m. to serve up bunch.
“There will be bottomless mimosas and a make-your-own-Bloody-Mary bar,” Alves said.
The restaurant is at 1223 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.
This article was originally published in Sanibel-Captiva Islander Island Reporter.