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Doc Ford’s celebrates year at new location
September 6, 2017

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The new Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille restaurant, on Island Inn Road, is celebrating its one year anniversary this weekend.

Saturday, Sept. 9, marks the first year anniversary of when Doc Ford's opened to the public at the new location. The day before, an open house was held providing the community with the opportunity to see the restaurant and have a party on them while checking out the building.

"We are so blessed to have the repeat clientele that we have," Sanibel General Manager Kimmi McGonnell said. "They feel like it is their restaurant. When their family comes to town, they are bringing them in to show off their restaurant. We know them by name and their seating preference. We know what they are going to have to drink before they sit down. Having that customer service has made us who we are as a group. We absolutely love this community. We are thrilled that we did get the opportunity to build from the ground up."

The first year of business at the new location has been "absolutely amazing" due to the reception they have received from their clientele. About three weeks ago they experienced their first period of quiet time since they made the move.

"It compounds the fact that we did the right thing in building from the ground up," McGonnell said, adding that they really focused on building a new restaurant that kept the integrity of what they established at their Rabbit Road location almost 14 years ago. "It feels comfortable and warm."

Almost a year later, McGonnell said they are still hearing great comments about the new building.

"When someone comes in for the first time . . . 'it's beautiful' . . . it's almost like you get to relive it every day," she said of keeping the new building excitement alive. "It keeps the momentum of the staff. It makes us feel great as a restaurant group that we did something that people do appreciate."

Doc Ford's, at 2500 Island Inn Road across from Bailey's Shopping Center, has proven to be a great new location for the restaurant.

"We have seen a lot of people heading over and having lunch more often," she said of the businesses located close by. "It's in walking distance, so they don't have to drive."

Some of the improvements included increasing the size of the kitchen, a definite necessity, and more outdoor dining.

"We are a scratch kitchen. Everything is handmade on site. Having a kitchen that essentially doubled in size has made the process easier," McGonnell said.

Although minor changes are made to the menu on occasion, she said the overall menu has not changed to keep it consistent with all of their locations - Captiva and Fort Myers Beach.

"It's important to us as a group, we want to share our clientele," McGonnell said.

So when they visit one of the three locations they have the option of ordering the Yucatan shrimp, the most popular menu item.

"If they go to Fort Myers Beach, we absolutely want them to have that menu item," McGonnell said.

The old location had limited outdoor seating, compared to its now three decks that can accommodate quite a few people in their outdoor dining. A drop down screen has been added to the area, so if a quick change in the weather occurs, diners do not have to move.

"A click of a button and the screens start to retract, so we are not trying to move them into an indoor area," in the event it starts raining, McGonnell said. "They can be comfortable wherever they are."

The upstairs patio, also has a screen, fans and light fixtures.

"They can continue having a good time and watch the weather outside and still be sitting in an outdoor environment and not getting wet," she said.

In the winter, if the temperatures are cooler, the screens can be dropped while portable heaters are placed on the patio.

"It gives us a really flexible restaurant to be able to accommodate our guests," McGonnell said.

A year later, she said they are fine tuning their operations.

"Anytime you move into a new space, you have a vision that things will just run the same way. There is a change. You look at your systems, protocols and efficiencies where you were a year ago in an entirely different building," McGonnell said.

Although everything remained the same in terms of their systems, menu and procedures, the staff continues to become familiar with the new building. McGonnell said the fine tuning happens when taking the preferences of their customers - what areas of the restaurant, inside, or outside for seating - and applying it to the new space.

To understand the customer flow takes time.

McGonnell joined the company 10 years ago, enabling her with the opportunity to be apart of the construction process of the new building. She said it was exciting towards the tail end of the project, when the placement of the equipment and seating was taking place.

"There were so many back and forths with trying to predict your clientele, what your customers want," McGonnell said. "Everyone really leaned on each other for their field of expertise. We sat down and really pinpointed ideas and collectively, as a group, said this is the smartest decision. It was absolutely exciting. It was a long term project with several years in the making and we think the end result turned out beautiful and we couldn't be happier."

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