When new owner Eve Alves opened the former Jacaranda Restaurant last May as The Jac Sanibel Island Bar and Grille, there was one question she heard over and over again from the public.
“A lot of the feedback was ‘When is the back bar going to open?'” she said.
Alves quickly learned what the building in the back once meant for people, but she had a vision.
“I wanted to be known as a restaurant with a bar, not the other way around,” she said. “I wanted to get our name out there with our culinary experience.”
So Alves held off on renovating the back bar, allowing the restaurant to create a name for itself and build a following before tackling the project. But, she always knew she wanted to reopen the bar.
“There’s a lot of memories back there. This is everybody’s home away from home,” Alves said. “My goal wasn’t to change those memories, it was to enable them (customers) to create new ones.”
As the restaurant marked its one-year anniversary this month, the back bar officially reopened.
The Sanibel and Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 20 at 5:30 p.m. to commemorate the opening of the venue, known once for its music and dancing.
“I feel like my business was running on half an engine,” she said. “I finally feel complete.”
“This is what I wanted on day one,” Alves added.
The work to prepare the back bar for reopening began in January and finished up in early April. She explained that the layout of the space was kept to preserve the nostalgia, just given a fresh look.
“I just wanted to liven it up,” Alves said. “I wanted to spruce it up.”
The beloved stage and dance floor received new carpet and flooring, but the original hardwood floors were cleaned and kept. The bar also received a thorough cleaning, as well as the original tables and chairs. New bar equipment was installed and the bathrooms gutted some of the biggest changes to it.
She incorporated the color palette from the restaurant to help tie the two buildings together.
Seven new flat screen TVs adorn the walls, offering a mix of sports programming, while life-sized games of Jenga and Connect 4 provide patrons with some fun, with cornhole set up on the patio.
“It’s something to do. It’s fun,” Alves said. “I want it to be a home away from home again.”
And, staying true to why the Jacaranda was loved, there will be live music daily from 7 to 11 p.m.
“The Renata Band is back by popular demand,” she said.
Every other Saturday, country vocal group Neon Summer will take the stage. Other local acts scheduled to perform include Ray and Natasha, James Prather, and Tony G and The Doc.
Open daily from 4 p.m. to midnight, the back bar features a happy hour menu.
The $6 starters include tri-tip slides, conch fritters, spicy shrimp, slow wings, Togarashi seared tuna, bacon cheese fries, house-smoked pork belly, black ‘n blue beef tips, sunken mussels and more.
“We have the same beer in the restaurant that you can get in the back bar,” Alves said.
As part of its anniversary and bar reopening celebration, one fan will have a chance to win a $50 gift card to The Jac and a T-shirt. For instructions on how to enter, visit facebook.com/TheJacSanibel.
For more information, visit www.thejacsanibel.com or on Facebook.
The Jac Sanibel Island Bar and Grille is at 1223 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.
*This story was originally posted on the Sanibel-Captiva Islander