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Islanders operate Friddu Gourmet Pops and Bubble Tea shop in Matlacha

February 6, 2019
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Pamela Walker and Gina Sapienza teamed up almost a year ago to open Friddu Gourmet Pops and Bubble Tea shop in Matlacha. The shop is two doors away from the Post Office.

The shop specializes in natural ingredients in their gourmet pops and bubble tea. Their ingredients in the pops include herbs and pieces of fresh fruit and for sweeteners they use raw sugar and honey. The teas include fruit juices and can be similar to smoothies.

Posted on a chalkboard on the wall are the ever changing flavors they call "Popsicle Possibilities"... and they are almost endless: Sangria, Rosemary Lemonade, Banana Cream, Pineapple Cilantro, Raspberry Cream, Pear, Ginger and many more.

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Pamela Walker, left, and Gina Sapienza. At left is the chalkboard listing the Popsicle Possibilities.


"We're always coming up with new flavors for our customers," Sapienza said. "And we offer a buy six get one free!"

Pamela Walker, originally from Joliet, Illinois, passed through New Orleans before settling on Pine Island.

"I was married at 18 and my husband was in the U.S. Marines," Walker said. "We traveled around for years and I spent some time in the food service industry in New Orleans where I made really good money.

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"After my mother died, my father wanted to leave Illinois and bought a house in Fort Myers," Walker said. "Then my father wanted my husband and I to live nearby and bought my house in Bokeelia. I hadn't even seen the house before we came to live here in 1993 and I've been here ever since."

Walker has owned several food establishments including Lovey's Baked Goods and The Matlacha Cafe from 1999 until Hurricane Charley put them out of business.

"We were just exhausted anyway and needed a break," Walker said. "My father got sick and I retired for a time but then began working at Bob and Annies where I spent 5 or 6 years and then retired again.

"My partner Gina wanted to do something in the food industry with me for years and when the property came available we decided to take the plunge," Walker said "We didn't know what we were going to do ... we thought about donuts but decided against that."

Sapienza is originally from upstate New York.

"I was dating someone back home who had a sister here on Pine Island and we came to visit," Sapienza said. "He went back and I've been here ever since. Before opening the shop, Sapienza earned a living working as a server at Waterfront and Barnacle Phil's on Captiva.

About a year before opening the shop, Sapienza had taken a vacation to St. Augustine where she had an "amazing Reisling and pear popsicle" and was "blown away."

The two women drove up to Sarasota to check out a gourmet popsicle shop and loved their pops. On the way home they stopped at a gourmet bubble tea shop and decided that was it. They would open a gourmet popsicle and bubble tea shop in Matlacha.

"No one has done anything like it here," Sapienza said.

The unusual name of Friddu came about because the women wanted something different.

"I also wanted a name that identified with the product," Walker said. "Friddu is a Sicilian word that means cold and since we both have Sicilian blood we thought Friddu was perfect."

Facebook reviews have been excellent and rate the store 4.9 out of 5 stars. Terry from Facebook says: "I love the natural ingredients and healthy sweeteners they use. Amazing flavor combinations are always getting dreamed up for their popsicles, and the taro-lavender milk bubble tea is the bomb! I try to limit myself to once a week. Make sure to get their punch card and you'll be getting a free tea before you know it!"

Friddu Gourmet Pops and Bubble Tea is located at 4547 Pine Island Road, Matlacha.for more information, call 239-699-6291 or visit



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