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Summerlin Jake’s grand opening today

October 5, 2016
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Summerlin Jake's Seafood and Steaks, previously known as SS Hookers, is holding its grand opening today with a jammed pack menu of fresh products.

"SS Hookers did prove to be just a little bit too edgy for some people. People thought that it may not be a family oriented restaurant," Stilwell Enterprises & Restaurant Group CEO and owner Sandy Stilwell said. "When people are here new and visiting they don't necessarily know that. It is time to change the direction because we know we have the location."

Summerlin Jake's Seafood and Steaks is at 17501 Harbour Point Drive, right before the Sanibel causeway.

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Chef Rich Howze.


Nora Price Kosegarten, who has worked with Stilwell on a number of projects, including some of her other restaurants, brought in a team for a two day transformation of SS Hookers to Summerlin Jake's. The new decor includes softer fabrics to help with the sound, planter boxes with real plants, burlap and wood on the walls for an eclectic salt water fish, steak and smoke house.

Stilwell said it was important not to close the restaurant down for a number of weeks because her staff still has bills to pay.

The staff went through training before the restaurant reopened, so they could learn the menu and understand all of the dishes.

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The restaurant is built around Jacob "Jake" Summerlin, who was the first person born in Florida. Stilwell said he used to bring his cattle down the trail and shipped them to Cuba right from Punta Rassa.

"Jake Summerlin has been framed and in-between the bathrooms with those two cows since the day we opened," she said.

Head Chef Rich Howze, a native South Floridian, been in the industry for 38 years.

"Through every stage of my career I was always mentored in the right way. There comes a time that you say, 'hey this can be a career' and you become passionate about it," he said.

Howze said the direction of the menu follows the slow food movement, which represents not necessarily all of the healthy foods, but good food. When creating the menu he said he began filling it with dishes that he likes to eat at home.

"From the time it comes from the farm to the time it gets to the table there's a respect given to the animal. The small farmer who grew the grains to the guy who shipped the grains to feed the pigs to the slaughter house to the table," he said. "That is the direction we want to go here."

Howze said they will be working with the local fishermen using domestic fish for their menu items, as well.

Since Stilwell has an agricultural license they are able to buy straight from the farms and fishermen.

"We have developed a reputation of always having farm fresh product, nothing frozen. (We are) always trying to buy the best of the best. That comes at a premium, but people are willing to pay for that when they think of their health," Howze said.

Stilwell said she has cut the prices on the menu because she would rather be everyone's local restaurant.

Prices range from $7 for bread pudding to $75 for a 36 oz bone-in rib eye.

The menu will include chargrilled steaks utilizing small boutique farms and special cuts of meat. Howze said a smoker arrived last week giving them the opportunity to smoke ribs, pork butt and South Florida brisket. Fresh local seafood, including shrimp from the docks, will be used.

The menu still offers strong vegan options, Stilwell said because their are many people that eat a plant based diet.

The vegan options include a roasted mushroom pilau, roasted mushroom, all fresh salads, lettuce wraps and jambalaya.

Howze encourages individuals who dine at the restaurant to ask for him and discuss their allergies and their needs, to ensure they have the perfect dining experience.

"We will develop specials every day and we will put something vegan on there every day," he said. "It keeps it fresh and exciting and all my team involved and energized. The guests should look forward to the specials when coming in."

Breakfast will be served on Saturday and Sunday with such menu items as a short rib hash and fried green tomatoes

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