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Bailey’s expanding services with Sanibel Catering Co.

By Staff | Oct 22, 2014

Things have been great since 1899. Why not ramp it up a couple of notches?

While catering services are not new, the popular Bailey’s General Store will formally expand into catering beginning Oct. 22. Sanibel Catering Co. (by Bailey’s) will hold a ribbon-cutting at 5 p.m. at the Sanibel Community House. The news follows other growth for the historic island merchant: a retail outlet at the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa. The new Sundial store will feature a 1,000 square feet of space for sandwiches, salads, deli food and a selection of quality items associated with Bailey’s over the last century, General Manager Richard Johnson said. The new Bailey’s Market Place is part of a multimillion-dollar renovation package of upgrades and expansion at Sundial. The new Bailey’s store will open in the next weeks.

Sanibel Catering Co. has been in the works for some time, Johnson said. The firm introduced a soft rollout at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, catering a September gathering of the island’s nonprofits. Guests were served delicacies by staff in formal attire. There more than a few surprised guests at the Ding Darling event, Johnson said. The firm also has a liquor license.

Sanibel Catering Co. is a direct tribute to the Sanibel Packing Co., the firm started by Frank Bailey in the late 19th century along San Carlos Bay, Johnson said. Sanibel Packing evolved into Bailey’s General Store. It moved to its current location in the 1960s. Two of Frank Bailey’s three sons ran the Bailey’s General Store and the surrounding retail empire until Francis Bailey died in 2013. His brother Sam died in 2010. A former insurance executive, Richard Johnson is married to Mary Mead Johnson, Francis Bailey’s daughter.

“We talked about catering for some time,” Johnson said. “Finally we decided that if we’re going to jump into the business, let’s do it right.”