Discovering the great dinner spots and area attractions is the focus of a new effort called Savor the Shore, and Lee County wants everyone who calls Southwest Florida home to support businesses struggling after Hurricane Ian.
One of those businesses is Sanibel’s restaurant Tutti Pazzi. The restaurant is now open again. However, customers are returning slowly.
Lee County knows it’s a problem along the shore, so their convention and visitor specialists came up with Savor the Shore.
Some Sanibel businesses, like Bailey’s, had to tear everything down, while other places, like Tutti Pazzi, were about to bounce back.
“Most of the restaurants on the island are down about 60 to 70% from last year,” said Pasquale Russo, the owner of Tutti Pazzi.
Pasquale, a first-generation Italian American, and his wife, Leanna Russo, opened Tutti Pazzi two years ago. Despite the opening, between COVID-19 and Hurricane Ian, Sanibel’s people quickly grew on them.
“The neighbors and kind of the community could kind of get together and kind of enjoy and be part of our family and extended family,” said Pasquale.
Although, there are now not enough locals to keep the restaurant going as strong, so the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau developed a new campaign to help businesses in coastal communities, like Tutti Pazzi.
Savor the Shore is supposed to encourage people to spend a day across our bridges.
“We typically spend our marketing dollars, if you will, to again, get visitors out of the area to come here,” said Miriam Dotson, communications manager with the Lee County Visitors and Convention Bureau. “The strategy with this is to get the locals to be able to get the message and reminder that you are part of this community, you are part of the solution, you are part of this recovery story.”
Pasquale noted the message is easy for everyone to remember.
“Sanibel is open and Captiva is open,” said Pasquale.
Keep in mind, the new campaign’s goal is getting our locals back to the coast, which is easier when you have treats like Tutti Pazzi nearby.