The grainy, black-and-white picture says it all.In it, a 3-year-old Jeff Schmidt is cradling a snowy white kitten while a Chihuahua and a curly-haired poodle flank him on either side. The grin on his face stretches from ear to ear, expressing a depth of joy known only by kids who are surrounded by what makes them happiest.
Almost 50 years later, Schmidt's love for animals continues.
The Fort Myers resident, who works as a refrigeration consultant for area supermarkets by day, has started the Dog-gone Sauce Co., a food business dedicated to raising funds for animal rescue shelters throughout the state.
"I always gave money to the Humane Society, but when the economy went bad and business tanked I had to stop," Schmidt said. "So I thought: Why don't I create residual income that's just for them?"
Schmidt partnered with a sauce developer and bottler in West Palm Beach. He found a printer and a graphic artist who were also animal lovers, and by June the first bottles of Dog-gone's Chipotle, Louisiana and Pineapple Honey hot sauces were hitting store shelves along with Dog-gone's BBQ Sauce.
Lawhon's Grocery and Meat in North Fort Myers was the first to carry the products, which are now also available at the Shell Factory in North Fort Myers, Trader Craig's at Fleamasters Flea Market in Fort Myers and the UPS Store on Daniels Parkway in south Fort Myers.
In just six months Dog-gone Sauce has raised more than $1,300.
To learn more call 245-2128 or visit doggonesauce.com.
Barbatella, the second Naples restaurant from acclaimed Sea Salt chef Fabrizio Aielli, is scheduled to open this week.
"We were thinking rustic, but the space has actually turned out to be very cool and modern, like something you'd find in New York," Aielli said. "Sleek but not stuffy."
The restaurant, which will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, features omelets, house-made pastas, grilled and roasted meats, pizzas made in the wood-burning oven and Aielli's favorite gelatos, to be served with an extensive wine list. Barbatella, Aielli said, is meant for families coming in from the beach or couples out for a night on the town.
It is located down the street from Sea Salt at 1290 Third St. S. in Naples. Visit barbatellanaples.com, seasaltnaples.com or find them on Facebook for more.
FOOD TRUCK RALLIES
Food lovers mark your calendars for Friday, Jan. 20, when food trucks from throughout South Florida will converge at the Seminole Casino Immokalee for the Food Truck Rally from 6-10 p.m. Dishes start at $5 and range from Venezuelan arepas to gourmet hot dogs. Southwest Florida's Nosh Truck will be among the mobile restaurants.
Don't feel like driving to Immokalee to get your food-truck fix? Nosh Truck is organizing a second, smaller rally Jan. 28 in Cape Coral with time and location still to be determined. Visit seminoleimmokaleecasino.com or noshtruck.squarespace.com for more.
OPEN AND COMING SOON
• Gordon's on the River opened at 475 North Road in Naples Harbour on Jan. 4. The waterfront restaurant serves aged steaks, seafood and cocktails from 5-10 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday.
• Elevation Burger, a national fast-casual chain known for its USDA-certified organic, grass-fed, free-range burgers, hand-dipped milkshakes and made-to-order fries, is opening its first area locations at the Gulf Coast Town Center in San Carlos Park, and the Promenade at Naples Center in the next few weeks. Visit elevationburger.com to learn more.