Doc Ford’s and Dixie Fish Company restaurants reflect on Hurricane Ian anniversaryOctober 2, 2023 • Dine
Despite Extensive Damage The Two Popular Restaurants Have Reopened
One year ago, Hurricane Ian left a wake of destruction in Southwest Florida, which included substantial damages to Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach locations, as well as Dixie Fish Company on Fort Myers Beach. During the past year, the restaurants have been rebuilt. Doc Ford’s on Sanibel and Dixie Fish Company on Fort Myers Beach both reopened in February; Doc Ford’s on Fort Myers Beach reopened in July.
“Similar to so many other businesses and homes on Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel, we sustained significant damage from Hurricane Ian,” said Joe Harrity, a partner with HM Restaurant Group, the parent company of Doc Ford’s and Dixie Fish Company. “While we’re grateful to be back open and serving customers, we recognize there is a long road of recovery still ahead for our beach and island communities.”
Damage at Doc Ford’s on Sanibel was due to eight inches of storm surge. Although the water level was low, because the Sanibel Causeway was closed, by the time restaurant management was able to access the island by boat and get to the restaurant, mold had set in, requiring substantial drywall replacement, trim work and new furniture.
On Fort Myers Beach, Doc Ford’s and Dixie Fish Company were impacted differently. The restaurants received 18 feet of storm surge, requiring substantial renovations. The drywall, flooring and windows were replaced inside. The bottom outdoor restaurant level was completely destroyed, requiring all new equipment and furniture, as well as new decking and docks for boat parking. The building’s roof was also replaced.
Dixie Fish Company fared similarly through the storm. As an open-air restaurant, the storm surge flowed directly through the building. However, the building remained structurally sound.
“We’re very happy to be back open and provide a space of normalcy for local residents who are still working to rebuild their homes and businesses,” said Harrity. “Our regular customers have returned and it’s great to see them pull up a chair and have a place to gather with neighbors and friends.”
Award-winning Doc Ford’s offers food with a unique balance of flavors inspired by the Caribbean Rim. Beloved for its sauces, spices and passion, Doc Ford’s is known by locals and visitors alike as a spectacular seafood restaurant, serving up its signature Yucatan shrimp daily. First established on Sanibel in 2003, there are now four Doc Ford’s locations: Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach and two in St. Petersburg, on the St. Petersburg Pier and in Jungle Terrace.
An original Florida fishhouse, Dixie Fish Company’s origins date back to 1937 when it was primarily a fish market. Today, it’s an award-winning waterfront restaurant on Fort Myers Beach that serves delicious, fresh food in an ideal location to enjoy the beach atmosphere, complete with live music and picturesque views.
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