How do you maximize under 250 square feet of added restaurant space? If you think like the Cielo folks on Sanibel Island, you reimagine your bar. After closing for a complete gut and overhaul last summer, the once-called Il Cielo reopened in December, revealing a new name, tropical-chic decor and a centerpiece bar. The scheme is simple—crisp white paint, a glass-encased wine wall, sea-inspired oil paintings—but striking.
The space overall is more modern, too, but the standout feature is the bar, which evolved from a passageway to be its own destination. Now, the larger, U-shaped bar gathers patrons around a warm, face-to-face setting surrounded by wood and windows. It fits well with the classic menu, which has been updated with organic and local ingredients, and the blessedly still-present glossy baby grand piano.