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Joey’s Custard now open at Bailey’s Center

By Staff | Jul 6, 2016

Joey’s Custard Owners Debi and Joe Almeida. MEGHAN MCCOY

A family-owned and operated business, which officially changed names last week, is offering additional frozen goodness and a few food options.

Debi Almeida and her son Joe officially took over the business that was formerly known as Zebra Yogurt, in the Bailey Center, on June 12. Last Friday was the official day the business began operating under its new name Joey’s Custard.

The Almeida’s kept the same staff from Zebra Yogurt because they were friendly employees that the island has come to know. Debi said they made the transition easy while keeping the doors open during the name change.

“The business community has been really supportive and on board and they like having a family business,” as neighbors, Debi said.

When it was brought to Debi’s attention that the owners of Zebra Yogurt were selling the business, she called her son and asked if he wanted to become part owner of Joey’s Custard.

Joey’s Custard Owner Joe Almeida scoops out ice cream for one of his customers. MEGHAN MCCOY

“Nothing would have stood between me and coming home,” Joe said, who was working in New York at an Olive Garden, at the time.

He arrived back on the island June 15 and could not be more excited.

“I’m very excited. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity at this age,” the 23-year-old said. “The foundation was already laid. We want to add to an island that gave to us.”

The youngest of four began working in the industry 11 years ago when his family owned a restaurant. Joe’s experience began to develop as he worked one day a week at the restaurant slowly learning the different jobs. His experience continued to grow over the years, which eventually led to working at such places as Parrot Key and Doc Ford’s.

“I love the customers and getting to know people,” Joe said of why he has remained in the industry.

The Almeida family, originally from Buffalo, New York, moved to the island in 1998. Joe attended kindergarten through eighth grade at the Sanibel School, attended Bishop Verot High School and eventually went away to the University of Central Florida for a semester before joining the Army.

When Joe was offered part ownership and operator of Joey’s Custard the ideas quickly began forming of what he would like the business to become. He said he has almost exclusively worked with Italian and seafood learning the trade from his brother who attended Johnson and Wales, so the latest endeavor has been new and exciting.

With any new experience, he began looking into how the island would benefit from new choices offered at Joey’s Custard. Joe said there are a lot of people who either moved to the island, or vacation from the midwest and northeast, who enjoy a custard treat.

“We want to offer that,” Joe said of custard. The company they decided to use is Honey Hill.

The custard options, such as the Lions Paw, are all adorned with shell names. The Lions Paw consists of peanut butter, caramel and crushed pretzels. Another custard option is the junonia, which consists of Heath bar and turtle clusters.

Joey’s Custard also offers two choices of sorbet and 12 flavors of ice cream. The ice cream is made by Working Cow, which is a premium ice cream using high quality products. The ice cream is made in Florida.

In addition to cool treats, Joey’s Custard will also offer craft panini’s and hot sandwiches. All of the food is made to order using premium products and as many local ingredients as possible.

One of the panini’s is called the Gemma, which consists of caramel sauce, sliced Granny Smith apples and gorgonzola cheese. Other options include the caprese, buffalo chicken and Cuban.

“Here at Joey’s Custard, we offer a family menu that goes beyond your average ice cream parlor. It was an honor and privilege to have worked alongside Chef RoRo to develop the best tasting and most unique hot sandwich and panini menu mid-island,” Debi said.

Joey’s Custard will also serve coke, which is made in Mexico. Joe said the coke uses pure cane sugar and is regulated to taste like the original coke that came in a bottle.

“You can taste the difference,” Joe said, adding that customers can take the coke bottle with them as a souvenir.

The cozy business can seat 32 people 20 inside and 12 outside in front of the business. The parlor has a family style kitchen table off to the right of the entrance that can be secluded with a divider for such activities as meetings.

Joey’s Custard also has a large chalkboard allowing customers to sign their name when they stop by the business. Once the board is full of names, Joe takes a picture and posts it on instagram, @JoeysCustard, providing those who sign their name with the opportunity to tag themselves as a keepsake.

Board games Connect 4, Jenga, rubik’s cube and Barrel of Monkey’s are also offered for families to enjoy while spending time at Joey’s Custard.

The logo, which was created by Doug McGregor, includes the catch phrase “Stay and Chill,” something the Almeida’s hope their customers will do.

The hours have been extended, now opening at 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Debi said the longer hours are perfect with Island Cinema located in the same plaza because after a movie families can enjoy a tasty treat. Those who bring their ticket stub from Island Cinema to Joey’s Custard will receive buy one, get one free. The promotion is offered every day of the week.

For more information, call (239) 472-7222, or visit www.facebook.com/JoeysCustard.