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Gulf & Main Magazine

Doc Ford's Stresses Quality and Customer Satisfaction as it Looks Toward Expansion

Dec 16, 2017 05:53PM ● By Kevin
Doc Ford's, which currently has three locations, may be looking at expanding in the future, according to owner Marty Harrity in a recent interview. There are locations on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, as well as one at 708 Fishermans Wharf on Fort Myers Beach. As of now, the additional locations are "in development."

Doc Ford’s Fort Myers Beach sits on the back of Estero Bay on San Carlos Island and offers the waterfront dining. Founded in 2009, owners Marty Harrity and Mark Marinello put together a business arrangement with New York Times best selling author Randy Wayne White and introduced the Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille concept.

Guests can come by car or boat and experience live music and watch the largest shrimp boat fleet in the U.S. head in and out of the gulf through Matanzas Pass. There is seating both indoors and outdoors, where the waterfront view can be joyfully experienced equally.

Before he started writing novels, White was a full-time fishing guide on Sanibel. Back then, he lived, for a few years, about 200 yards from the restaurant's location, in a stilt house next to the shrimp docks.

"This part of Ft. Myers Beach was affordable, and I loved the salty, tropic-lazed lifestyle," he wrote on the business's website. "It’s true. Look across the water. See the rows of commercial fishing boats? The house was right there, although it wasn’t much of a house ... If someone had predicted then that I would be associated with a restaurant as fine as this one, I would have suggested that they reshuffle their tarot cards."

As a member of the team of restaurateurs and staff, White has the opportunity to spend more time in the area he loves.

Doc Ford, White writes, is the baseball-loving, tropical adventurer who has spent a lot of time in the same "far flung" places that he wrote about when he was a monthly columnist in places such as Cuba, Cambodia, South Africa, Australia, Vietnam, Borneo, and all over South and Central America.

"It was while traveling for that I came to know and love the superb cuisine of the rural tropics," he says. "I loved the sauces, the spices, and the passion that went into the food preparations."

That is part of the inspiration for Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille. The owners and chefs always stress quality in their food. Everything is made from scratch. The Yucatan Shrimp, which is the signature dish, was featured in an article in The New York Times in 2010.

"This is a dinner to evoke deep summer, when the heat lies heavy even at dusk and humidity wraps you like a blanket: shrimp tossed in garlic butter made fiery with Indonesian sambal and jalapeño, cut by lime, fragrant with cilantro," Sam Sifton posts in his writeup. "It is a kind of scampi for the sun-kissed and sun-desirous alike, a vacation on a plate. Add a mojito and a couple of beers." 

In addition to the food, customer satisfaction is a key area of focus, and the employees shine through an environment where the value is in the quality and care. Some of the owners' favorite memories come from watching their employees succeed, Harrity said.

"Our mission is to continues to provide the best food, service, value, and hospitality in each and every location we have."

Post-Irma recovery has been excellent, Harrity continued. "We got away with minor damage considering what could have happened."

The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., daily. For more information, visit its website, or call 239-765-9660.