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After fire and hurricane, island restaurant owners team up for new concepts

  • By Mark Gordon
  • | 10:00 a.m. September 12, 2023
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
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  • Charlotte–Lee–Collier
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A partnership born from tragic circumstances is leading to a pair of new eateries on Sanibel Island. 

The new places have been dubbed Wickie’s Lighthouse Restaurant and The Magic Bus Ice Cream & Caffeine. The owners, according to a statement, are longtime island restaurateurs Brian and Elke Podlasek and Max and Bridget Kolshak. The Podlaseks' Island Cow restaurant was destroyed by fire, while the Kolshaks' Mad Hatter was lost to Hurricane Ian.

That led the restaurateurs to team up. 

Both Wickie’s and The Magic Bus, the release states, will be located at 362 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel, in the plaza formerly occupied by the Lighthouse Café and Sanibel Ice Cream.

Wickie’s — the nickname given to lighthouse keepers derived from the task of trimming the wick of the lamps — will feature breakfast, lunch and dinner along with a full bar and signature drinks. The menu and decor, say the owners, while casual and approachable, "also matches the Mad Hatter’s elegance." 

The Magic Bus, meanwhile, will feature a vintage VW-inspired decor with indoor and outdoor seating offering an old-fashioned ice cream shop and candy store feel, plus modern coffee beverages, refresher drinks and baked goods. 

With renovations of both properties currently underway, the plan is to open in November.

“It’s been a tough year to say the least and this is a great comeback story of two business owners who lost everything coming together to bring the island some great new venues for amazing food and fun,” Brian Podlasek says in the release. “While plans are coming together to rebuild the Island Cow restaurant in its original location, this gives an opportunity to more immediately employ some former employees of both restaurants while revitalizing the east end of the island.”

The Kolshaks, who not only lost their restaurant last year but also mourned the death of their head chef, say the new offerings will be just what the island needs – a beacon of hope.  

“Both concepts are a nod to the past with an eye to the future,” says Max Kolshak in the release. “Wickie’s honors the history of the island and its original lighthouse keepers, Dudley Richardson and Henry Shanahan, but with a modern, updated décor and a fresh, coastal dining experience. A few doors down, The Magic Bus serves up nostalgia with a modern twist. More importantly, our joint venture is a sign that the people and businesses of Sanibel are stronger than ever, and ready to welcome guests and residents back home.”



Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

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