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Spoondrift Island Bowls now open at Bailey’s center

By Staff | Mar 19, 2019

TIFFANY REPECKI Spoondrift Island Bowls opened on March 6 at the Bailey's Sanibel shopping center.

With its first island restaurant still receiving rave reviews after opening a couple of months ago, the Samson family has embarked on a new endeavor that stemmed from its farmers market business.

On March 6, Jeff and Kathy Samson and daughter Malia opened Spoondrift Island Bowls at the Bailey’s Sanibel shopping center. At 2441 Periwinkle Way, the eatery features its poke “to slice” or “cut crosswise into pieces” in Hawaiian bowls that gained popularity via the islands’ markets.

Malia Samson explained that she and her father first participated in last season’s farmers markets on Sanibel and Captiva by selling their homemade chicken salad, dressings, pesto and herb blends.

The then-recent transplants to the islands had owned a couple of restaurants over the years back in Michigan, including Malia Italian Bistro and Malia Mediterranean Bistro, dating back to 1992.

“We didn’t know what we were going to get into,” she said of joining the markets.

TIFFANY REPECKI Malia Samson, daughter of Jeff and Kathy Samson, shows off the variety of ingredients for constructing the poke bowls at the family's newest endeavor, Spoondrift Island Bowls.

One weekend, her father pointed out the crowd watching the guacamole vendor put on a show.

“Let’s do something that’s interactive like that,” her father tossed out.

At the time, they had two tables and one umbrella as their set up. Always tuned in to the new foodie trends, Samson suggested poke bowls a healthy meal option that was unavailable on the islands.

So, the father-daughter duo began making poke bowls to go, and they were a hit.

“Our tables expanded to five, our umbrellas expanded to three, and we would be lined up,” she said.


Samson explained that poke bowls originated in Hawaii and the Pacific. Traditionally, they would feature ahi tuna cut up into small pieces hence poke with avocado, edamame and a soy-type sauce. But, with a rise in global popularity, they can now feature a variety of mix-and-match ingredients.

With modern poke bowls, diners get a protein, grain, vegetables, sauce and crunch.

“It’s a great flavor balance as a whole,” she said.

Spoondrift offers customers the choice between a regular bowl for $10.95, which comes with one protein pick, or a large bowl for $13.95 that comes with two protein picks. Then, the fun begins.

“You get to create your own thing,” Samson said.

TIFFANY REPECKI Spoondrift Island Bowls now a storefront eatery after setting up at the islands' farmers markets.

Customers first pick a “base” from artisan greens, sushi rice, red quinoa or nachos. Next up is the protein options, which include chicken, steak, shrimp, ahi tuna, spicy tuna, salmon, octopus and tofu.

Samson noted that the chicken and beef tenderloin steak are the same high-quality products that the family uses at its Malia Island Fusion Cuisine. Plus, the same AAA sushi-grade tuna and salmon.

Customers then move on to four “toppings” and “hot veggies,” including Parmesan and feta.

“They range from pineapple and cucumber, to hot broccoli and Brussels sprouts,” she said.

Next, customers choose from a handful of sauces, served either on top or on the side. There is a spicy mayo, wasabi mayo, creamy coconut, sweet chili, Thai peanut, Green Goddess and herb vinaigrette.

TIFFANY REPECKI With its hang five neon sign, the restaurant's décor relays a casual, surf shack vibe.

Lastly, they can pick an unlimited number of “finishes” masago, ginger, furikake, scallions, nori, sesame seeds and cilantro and “crispies,” like macadamia nuts, shallots, fried onion and “chip dust.”

“It’s Cool Ranch Doritos,” Samson said of the chip dust, noting that it is a favorite.

“They’re the flavor notes at the top,” she added.

With so many possible combinations, no meal has to be the same.

“You can come in each time and do something different,” Samson said.

For those not big on options, Spoondrift does offer predesigned bowls and a daily creation.

There are also handmade desserts, such as chocolate malt cake and coconut tres leche, along with a variety of beverages including bottled water, soda, iced coffee, and flavored teas and lemonades.

“I have a lot of fun stuff you won’t see anywhere else,” she said of the drink choices.

Another big aspect of Spoondrift that Samson is proud of is its eco-minded products. The silverware is wooden, the straws are paper, and the bowls are made from 100-percent biodegradable ingredients.

“They will break down 100 percent,” she said. “You can recycle them or chuck them.”

Asked about how they came up with the name for the business, Samson explained that the word is from Old English and means a showery sprinkling of seawater or fine spray swept from the tops of waves.

Perfect for the islands, along with the eatery’s casual surf shack decor.

Spoondrift Island Bowls is open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

It accepts orders over the phone for pick up.

For more information, call 239-472-0875 or visit sanibelspoondrift.com. People can also like them on Facebook at “Spoondrift Island Bowls” or follow along on Instagram at @sanibelspoondrift.