Island couple prepares to open Poco Loco on Saturday
With enticing flavor combinations including Banana Caramel Praline, Toasted Coconut Almond Fudge, Cappucino Hazelnut, Raspberry Tiramisu and Mascarpone Caramel Pistachio sure to tempt the tastebuds of any gelato-loving islander, the couple behind Poco Loco – which will open this weekend in Jerry’s Center – would love to taste some sweet success with their new business venture.
“We were always looking for a little business to be in together,” said Susan Reynolds, who along with her husband of five years, Paul, is eager to open the doors of their eat-in or take-out eatery. “When I came back from a business trip last July, he told me, ‘I found it! I found it!’ He wanted to put something in this space because of the great atmosphere – a beautiful courtyard, a place where people can wander around, with all of the greenery and birds surrounding you. It’s a perfect spot.”
Located in the north section of Jerry’s Center, Poco Loco is a combination coffee and gelato shop, where residents and tourists alike are invited to mingle with their friends, enjoy a casual chat over a warm cup of java or savor a cone topped with the gourmet frozen Italian dessert.
“We’ll have a little something that everyone will enjoy,” Susan added.
According to Paul, their “signature coffee” among the many organic, shade grown, fair trade and bird-friendly roasted coffees will be the Sanibel Blend. Developed 15 years ago by the original operator of The Bean, the full-flavored product combines a Sumatran, Kenyan and Costa Rican blend of freshly-roasted coffee beans. And Poco Loco will be the only island restaurant to offer the exclusive Sanibel Blend to its customers.
“Susan lived in Costa Rica at one time,” said Paul, who noted that the business will conduct informational coffee seminars and tastings in the near future. “That’s where she developed a strong interest in coffees, which is the second most traded commodity in the world.”
In addition to hot and iced coffee products, Poco Loco will sell natural fruit smoothies, which are sweetened with beet and cane sugar, 100 percent crushed fruit concentrate with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
They will also offer freshly prepared pastries, provided by French Bread Oven of Fort Myers, which will compliment their wide variety of coffee and tea products.
Of course, Poco Loco is most proud of the high-quality gelato they will be selling, with at least 24 flavors available year round. While the assortment of flavors may differ from time to time, as seasonal or limited edition varieties are introduced, the Reynolds’ is confident that their supplier is one of the best in the business.
Palazzolo’s Artisan Gelato & Sorbetto, based in Michigan, sells more than 600 flavors and is the exclusive gelato vendor for Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. In fact, Oprah Winfrey – in one of her annual “Favorite’s Lists” – called their product, “Creamy, delicate, fresh and heaven on a hot Fourth of July.”
And Poco Loco is the only place in Lee County to purchase Palazzolo’s gelatos.
Paul and Susan also indicated that providing a casual, relaxed atmosphere at their eatery was a primary goal, along with building with “green” products and technologies.
“From our bamboo floor to our use of biodegradable containers, Poco Loco is dedicated to creating a healthy eco-footprint on our island, and to encouraging ‘green’ products and awareness in our greater community,” it states on their Web site, located at www.pocolocosanibel.com.
“We wanted to blend the warmth of a coffee shop with the brightness of an ice cream shop,” said Susan. “Since I was a small child, I wanted to run a coffee shop. I think I’ve had that bug since I first ran a lemonade stand.”
Paul also noted that Poco Loco’s prices for their products will be very competitive.
“If we made our gelato prices so high, for a kid who just wants to buy a cone, that sort of defeats the purpose here,” he said.
“We may be in a resort area, but we’re not going to charge tourist prices for our products,” added Susan. “We’re under the market on coffee prices and under the market on smoothie prices.”
Poco Loco, located at 1700 Periwinkle Way, Suite 9, will officially open this Saturday, April 17. Their regular business hours are Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call 395-0290.
To celebrate the opening of their store, the Reynolds’ are offering a free 12 ounce cup of their exclusive Sanibel Blend coffee daily between 7 and 8 a.m. for the first month of operation.
As for the name of the business, that has a story, too.
“We wanted something that sounded island-y and something that would be easy to remember,” said Susan. “Poco Loco means ‘a little crazy.’ When I lived in Costa Rica, the kids used to say it all the time. It sounds like fun, and that’s just what we wanted.”