Joey’s Custard Celebrates Vietnam Veterans

Before opening the popular neighborhood eatery Joey’s Custard on Sanibel Island, Joey Almeida spent three years serving our country in the Army. It was a call to duty that runs deep in his family – two uncles and his late father served in the Vietnam War. In honor of them, Joey is celebrating the first anniversary of National Vietnam War Veterans Day on March 29.

“U.S. Armed Forces personnel with active duty service, between November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location of service, are invited to have their choice of sundae or sandwich on the house,” said Joey. “We ask veterans to bring their VA card or DD214 form on March 29.”

“The recognition of Vietnam veterans service to our country is important to me. It will be a pleasure to be able to thank them and talk with them on a day set aside just for them,” said Joey, who lost his father as a direct result of exposure to nuclear missiles during the Vietnam War. “I have witnessed the strong bond of military service in my family and hope this day will form new, ever-lasting bonds.”

National Vietnam Veterans Day was developed by the Gold Star Wives of America, a Congressionally chartered non-profit organization that provides services to the active duty and service-connected military surviving spouses. Joey’s mother and business partner, Debi, is a member. “This commemorative day is very close to our hearts,” she said. “We look forward to serving them.”

Joey’s Custard, located in The Bailey’s Center, offers more than 30 flavors of ice cream and real custard ice cream with topping choices that are sure to please. The sandwich menu ranges from an Italian served on a ciabatta roll or the Cuban with freshly sliced mojo pork to The San-Cap with ham, choice of cheese and brown mustard.

“Our ice cream is all natural, made with real cream and real sugar, and sandwiches are made fresh to order,” said Debi, who will be releasing a book in the memory of her husband.

“The book will tell his story through emails to loved ones during the last six weeks of his life, intermixed with artwork he drew while stationed in bunkers in Germany,” said Debi. It’s due to be published in the fall of 2018 and will be sold at the eatery.

Joey’s Custard, 2467 Periwinkle Way, has earned five-star ratings from TripAdvisor and Yelp. Find it on Facebook, Instagram or at


Sanibel Sea School Offers Beach Walk


Sanibel Sea School will offer a free community beach walk led by the organization’s team of marine science educators on Saturday, Feb. 10. This casual stroll along the beach provides an opportunity to learn about some of the items that have washed ashore.

“You never know what you’ll find on the beach on any given morning, so we love to discover what’s new and talk about the ocean’s surprises,” said Director of Education Nicole Finnicum. “Participants are also welcome to bring their own beach finds for us to identify.”

To attend this walk, meet at Sanibel Sea School’s Flagship Campus, 455 Periwinkle Way, at 9 a.m. The event will last approximately 2 hours, but you are welcome to come and go at your leisure.

Sanibel Sea School is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. To learn more, visit

BIG ARTS: Darlene Love Performs

The Rock and Roll Legend Darlene Love

SANIBEL, FL (JANUARY 3, 2018) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Singer Darlene Love will bring her distinctive vocals and fabulous band to Sanibel Island for the 2018 BIG ARTS Annual Benefit “You Gotta Have Love.” Hers was the voice that helped launch a hundred hits and described by The New York Times as “embedded in the history of rock and roll as Eric Clapton’s guitar and Bob Dylan’s lyrics.”

“This will be an evening long remembered,” said Benefit Co-Chair Melissa Congress. “Darlene Love is an inspiration to many and we graciously welcome her to our island and BIG ARTS.”

Love, a preacher’s daughter born in East Los Angeles, discovered her voice as a young girl standing next to an old Victrola belting out Marian Anderson songs. It was joining The Blossoms that led to her being discovered by Phil Spector, who was developing his signature 1960’s girl-group sound. Love would serve as backup vocals for several famed groups and singers from Cher to Aretha Franklin.

Throughout the years, there would more names linked with Love, including Elvis, Dionne Warwick and Nancy Sinatra. However, Love had an epiphany at the age of 40 and decided she was tired of her vocals being “used as an expensive accessory” to other artists. She disappeared from the music scene for nearly 10 years, and eventually fell on hard times. One day, while working as a maid in Beverly Hills, Love heard herself on the radio and vowed to make a comeback.

She has done it with appearances in all four Lethal Weapon movies, starring roles in Broadway hits like Hairspray and Grease, as well as headlining concert tours worldwide. Love’s determination to begin a solo career midlife has inspired a movie about her and “My Name is Love,” partly a dishy show-biz memoir, but mostly the story of a woman who never lost her will to sing.

Love was featured in the Oscar-winning documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom, a compelling 2013 film that shines a spotlight on the untold story of backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st Century. It has been slow to come, but Love is finally getting the recognition she deserves as one of the greatest performers and vocalists of our time, and was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

“Darlene Love has endured a rough road with grace and fortitude,” said Susan Heisler, event co-chair. “It’s truly an honor to have her headline the BIG ARTS Annual Benefit.”

Following Love’s performance in Schein Hall, there will be a drawing for four fabulous prizes: Take a private cruise aboard a 44-foot yacht for lunch at the Useppa Club; one-of-a-kind artwork by much-loved and gifted Sanibel artist Ikki Matsumoto; stunning jewelry from Congress Jewelers; and a gourmet experience at the Captiva House. Purchase 3 tickets for $100 – only 300 available – by calling 239-395-0900 during Box Office hours. Attendance is not required to participate in the prize drawing.

Sponsorship slots are available for “You Gotta Have Love” on Feb. 23 at BIG ARTS. Sponsor levels include Presenting ($10,000), Pacesetting ($5,000), Producing ($2,500) and Supporting ($1,500). All sponsors receive complimentary tickets, invitation to the sponsor and patron pre-show reception, prominent recognition, premier seating and more. Patrons ($275) receive an invitation to the pre-show party, preferred seating, name listed in the event program and an invitation to the private patron and sponsor appreciation dinner in March.

To become a sponsor or patron, contact Annie Campbell at 239-472-9700 or before the Jan. 15 deadline. Standard tickets go on sale Jan. 22 and can be purchased by calling 239-472-9700.

BIG ARTS, established in 1979, is a nonprofit organization devoted to providing quality artistic, cultural and educational experiences to Sanibel and Captiva residents and visitors.

Visit to learn more about our Spectacular 2018 Season! and to purchase tickets. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 239-395-0900. And don’t forget to like us on Facebook.