When I was in rehab after having rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder, I learned that my physical therapist worked as a Chef evenings and weekends at a restaurant called Doc Ford’s. Through my therapist, I discovered who Doc Ford was (a character in a novel), and why the author was so important to this establishment.
Today there are three Doc Ford restaurants: the first on Sanibel Island, the 2nd on Fort Myers Beach, and the third on Captiva Island; all three within a short distance from my home.
On the Doc Ford’s web site, Randy gives an informal bio on his life and works: “Before I started writing novels, I used to sell fish right here where you’re sitting -well, in this building, anyway.
“For more than 12 years, I was a light-tackle fishing guide just down the road at Tarpon Bay Marina. I did more than 3,000 charters; spent 300 days a year boating these waters. When my clients chose not to keep what they’d caught, I’d load the fish in my pickup, tap on the back door of this place, and ask the chef if he was in a buying mood.
“I love the symmetry of that; I helped provide seafood here way back in the 1970’s, and now, because I’ve joined this excellent team of restaurateurs and staff, I have the opportunity to play a small role in providing fresh fish here once again.
“So welcome to Doc Ford’s. Just as my novels are inspired by these islands, my days on the water, and the people I came to know, the spirit of this fine sports bar was inspired by the marine biologist who is the main character of those novels.
“Doc Ford is the baseball-loving, tropical adventurer who – not so surprisingly – has spent a lot of time in the same far flung places that I wrote about when I was monthly columnist for 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.
“I loved the sauces, the spices, and the passion that went into the food preparation. We hope that spirit is part of Doc Ford’s Sanibel Rum Bar and Grille, too. But the real hearts, heads and souls behind this establishment, though, aren’t fictional. They are real people; people savvy enough to envision a whole new concept in bars. “A rum bar? What’s a rum bar?” We were asked.
“They are people creative enough to design an entirely different kind of sports bar concept. ‘You’re gonna have gourmet finger foods? Sports bars don’t serve great food,’ we were told. Well, this one does.
“So credit Marty and Brenda Harrity, and Mark Marinello, along with Chef Greg Nelson for having the vision, and then finding the energy, taste and chutzpah to make that vision reality.
“Being with them reminds me of my old marina family, back when I was a fishing guide at Tarpon Bay. They’re quirky and fun and gifted. They’ve made it work, and I’m proud to have played a small part.
–Randy Wayne White
Randy’s novels feature marine biologist Dr. Marion Ford, quirky pal Tomlinson, and his friends at Dinkin’s Bay. The Doc Ford novels have enjoyed a growing cult following since the first book appeared in 1990.
Randy’s eighteenth novel, NIGHT VISION, was published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the Spring of 2011 to reviews that continue to cement his position as “one of the hottest writers in America” (Booklist). His previous novels, BLACK WIDOW, HUNTER’S MOON, DARK LIGHT, EVERGLADES, TWELVE MILE LIMIT, SHARK RIVER, TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS, THE MANGROVE COAST, NORTH OF HAVANA, CAPTIVA, and others have accumulated devoted fans worldwide. About Randy, the Denver Post wrote “He is a major new talent who has produced a virtually perfect piece of work.” The Tampa Tribune called Randy, “the rightful heir to John D. MacDonald.”
A collection of essays, Batfishing in the Rainforest also received excellent reviews. Paul Theroux (author of The Mosquito Coast) wrote: “Batfishing in the Rainforest contains equal parts of comedy and courage. Randy White is not simply a wonderful writer; he is a fishing guide of genius.”
Non-fiction books include, BATFISHING IN THE RAINFOREST, THE SHARKS OF LAKE NICARAGUA, LAST FLIGHT OUT, AN AMERICAN TRAVELER.
Randy was a monthly columnist for Outside Magazine, and traveled the world, writing about natural history, archaeology, anthropology, travel and politics. He covered the America’s Cup in Australia, and has written about Africa, Sumatra, Singapore, Central America, Vietnam, Borneo, Malaysia, the Caribbean, and South America. He has dog sledded in Alaska and brought back refugees from Cuba.