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25 08, 2020

Five restaurants on Captiva, one guru.

How Andy Rosse Lane became a dining destination on Captiva. Captiva Island's restaurants share many similarities: Gulf seafood, cocktails, breezy patios. Five of them share an entrepreneurial owner, as well. Gina Birch | Special to The News-Press Published 11:02 a.m. ET Aug. 18,2020 This has been the summer of canceled vacations. With many staying closer to home, destination dining is seeing a boom in popularity. Venturing outside of the circle of convenience that surrounds your home or business, while still remaining in your backyard, opens up options that are often overlooked under normal circumstances. And there is little normal about the current world. Southwest Florida is known for its barrier islands, which are ripe and ready for culinary exploration, including captivating Captiva. An island that is mostly residential and resort, if there was a downtown Captiva, it would be along Andy Rosse Lane, a shady, shell-lined street that dead ends at the Gulf of Mexico. Home to a small grocer, galleries and vacation rentals, the majority of restaurants on this lazy strip, as well as Captiva in general, are owned by hospitality guru Sandy Stilwell Youngquist. She's the woman behind Latte Da, RC Otter’s Island Eats, Cantina Captiva and Sunshine Seafood Café & Wine Bar. The 18-year-old Keylime Bistro, though, is her anchor. Having owned Keylime since 2002, Youngquist has weathered quite a few storms (hurricanes, oil spills, red tide) but none have hit quite like COVID-19. “One day you’re ordering food, stocking for full service and then boom, no notice, we are shut down, takeout only,” Youngquist says. At the same time, vacation rentals were suspended on the island, further strangling the restaurant’s already modest takeout operations. No guests, no business. “At one point we were the only place [...]

10 05, 2019

Owner marks 20th year at historical inn

Owner marks 20th year at historical inn April 30, 2019 By TIFFANY REPECKI, Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander Twenty years ago, Sandy Stilwell Youngquist was in the market to purchase another inn and was considering a place in Great Guana Cay in the Bahamas when chance led her in a different direction. "I always knew I wanted to own something on the islands," she said of Captiva and Sanibel. "I kind of kept my eyes peeled for the right opportunity," Stilwell Youngquist added. Raised in Lee County since the age of 2, she had owned two inns on Fort Myers Beach, which she later sold. Yet Stilwell Youngquist had always been attracted to the island lifestyle, particularly on Captiva. "We were boaters and I always came into South Seas," she said, citing 'Tween Waters as well. In 1999, as Stilwell Youngquist was working through the details of possibly buying the Bahamas inn, the opportunity she had been waiting for presented itself. The Captiva Island Inn went up for sale. "I just fell in love with Captiva and I bought it," she said, noting that it was a historic property. "I'm so glad I didn't buy the place down in the Bahamas," Stilwell Youngquist added. She purchased the inn, which only had six rooms at the time, from Rob and Cathy Degennero. "It was just a cute little bed and breakfast," Stilwell Youngquist said. "It was so small." Initially, she wondered how she was going to stay booked, but soon found that she was full most of the time. On the county's tax roll for the first time in 1950, the original site dates back at least 69 years. "Some of the units, they've been around for a long time," Stilwell Youngquist said. The land purchase [...]