Founder of Sweet Melissa's Cafe

Gretchen Valade

In the mid 1980’s Gretchen and her husband, Bob, were invited by friends to visit Sanibel Island, it was love at first sight. At that time, they owned property along the Caloosahatchee River which they planned to build on. They sold that and instead bought a home in the Nutmeg Condominiums on Sanibel. In the mid 90’s they built a beautiful new home on the island overlooking the Gulf.

Gretchen became friends with the owners of a restaurant on Captiva called “Red Fish Blue Fish”. In 2004 Hurricane Charley hit Captiva and local restaurants experienced a loss of business as a result. Gretchen bought half ownership in the restaurant and moved it to a new location on Sanibel. She eventually ended up the sole owner and relocated for a second time to the Periwinkle Way location and renamed it “Sweet Melissa’s Café”.

Along the way Gretchen was introduced to the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation. She was impressed with their commitment to protect the beauty of the island she so admired. Over the years she made donations to the organization to help them with their mission.

Gretchen resides in Grosse Pointe, Michigan where she has several other businesses that keep her busy when she isn’t enjoying herself on Sanibel, her home away from home.

Sweet Melissa's Cafe