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Many new restaurants are nearly ready to open in North Naples and more are still coming this year.
A few places are checking off last-minute items before they launch, although they are opening later than initially anticipated. The new Shea’s Lansdowne Street plans to open within the next month in the former space of Newk’s Eatery at 6340 Naples Blvd.
“We’re pretty close,” said Charlie Maurer, who co-owns Shea’s and its big brother, Lansdowne Street, in Bonita Springs with his wife, Teri. “The glass garage doors that I ordered 37 weeks ago have arrived. That’s the last missing piece.”
The overhead doors on the venue’s northern and western sides will give the Boston-themed sports bar an open-air feel and connect it to an outdoor bar on a more than 2,200-square-foot patio. “We’re doing something a little different,” Mauer said. “We’re getting excited.”
After a more than two-year hiatus, Shea’s is returning to the Naples market, where it operated for more than four years off Fifth Avenue South until closing in June 2020. The Maurers will recreate the atmosphere with 4,000 square feet of exposed brick walls as well as dark wood, brass, stained glass, chandeliers, a fireplace and sports memorabilia from New England teams.
The menu and concept will be identical, Maurer said. “It’s just like Shea’s downtown and Lansdowne Bonita,” he said.
Carole’s House Café & French Bakery also is close to opening its second location. The first launched Memorial Day weekend last year in St. Andrews Square in East Naples. The second will open soon in the Publix-anchored Pelican Strand shopping center, 5620 Strand Blvd., off Immokalee Road in North Naples.
Co-owners and North Naples residents Carole Dahan and Christophe Mars say they are about 99% finished converting a former office space into their café. Only inspections set for next week stand in the way of its opening. Carole’s House creates authentic, fresh-baked French pastries, breads and desserts and serves a daily breakfast and lunch menu that includes sandwiches and salads.
The 1942 Mexican Grill also plans to open soon but is still awaiting its liquor license, said owner Jose Reyes. “We don’t want to open without liquor because sometimes, you know, customers only give you one shot and we don’t like to take those kinds of risks,” Reyes said.
The Mexican restaurant and bar will launch in Wiggins Pass Crossing, 13510 Tamiami Trail N., a retail center near the southeast corner of U.S. 41 and Wiggins Pass Road. The restaurant with indoor-outdoor bars is in a renovated end unit that over the years has been many bars and restaurants, including the Broken Watch, The Palate, Beach Tavern, IIWII Beach Bar & Grille and Mr. Jerry’s Tavern.
Expect 1942 to provide a modern, upscale Mexican dining experience that includes street tacos and multiple flavors of Margaritas. The restaurant’s lamps and other décor were custom-made in Mexico, Reyes said.
“Everything from our décor to our paint is unique,” he said. “Our menu is going to be different than the typical Mexican restaurant you see here. It’s going to be unique to Naples.”
A strong buzz has proceeded some popular restaurant chains planning to open their first locations in Collier County. A couple of them are even filling spots vacated by other restaurant chains.
Freestanding structures in North Naples that used to be home to Buca di Beppo Italian restaurant and the former Sweet Tomatoes buffet brand have been gutted for new venues. J. Alexander’s, an upscale dining concept, is bringing its first Southwest Florida location to the spot along Trail Boulevard where Buca di Beppo operated for more than 20 years.
Completely renovating the 8,160-square-foot restaurant space at 8860 Tamiami Trail N., the Naples location will be the seventh in Florida for J. Alexander’s, a contemporary restaurant and full bar known for its wood-fired cuisine and attention to detail, consistency and quality since launching in 1991. J. Alexander’s menu features a wide selection of made-from-scratch American classics including prime rib, steaks, seafood, sandwiches and entrée salads.
Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, building out the highly visible former space of Sweet Tomatoes on the southeast corner of U.S. 41 North and Immokalee Road, will join a string of Darden Restaurants – LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille and Seasons 52 – long established along U.S. 41 in North Naples, as well Darden brands Olive Garden and Yard House also already in Naples.
A casual dining brand with a full bar, Cheddar’s has another regional location near Gulf Coast Town Center in Lee County. Its 7,000-square-foot outparcel in the Granada Shoppes will feature the growing chain’s comfort food with scratch menu favorites such as chicken pot pies, country fried steak and honey butter croissants.
Construction crews are working to redevelop an old bank branch into Mission BBQ at 5795 Airport-Pulling Road, an outparcel lot between Culver’s and Chick-fil-A drive-thru restaurants. The patriotic barbecue chain is enclosing the drive-thru area of the former bank to create a larger 4,587-square-foot venue for a more than 120-seat restaurant with partially covered patio dining. The opening date is expected this spring.
Next door, Chick-fil-A finally plans to open soon with an entirely new restaurant interior with two drive-thru lanes. The location has been temporarily closed since the end of July for the overdue remodeling project.
A couple of restaurant ownership changes last year will materialize with new names atop North Naples restaurants this year. Expect Joe’s Diner on U.S. 41 and Noodles on Pine Ridge Road to complete changes that have already started.
Ela Vivonetto, who has operated her local Sauce Lady business for many years, bought Joe’s Diner last fall on the other end of Naples Park Plaza, 9331 Tamiami Trail North. Already adding some of her homemade Italian sauces, soups, meatballs and pasta dishes to the 20-year-old Joe’s Diner, Vivonetto plans to eventually regroup after this season to renovate, add dinner service and change the restaurant’s name, which she said she hasn’t decided on yet.
Giuseppe and the Lion will be the new name for the longtime Noodles Italian Cafe & Sushi Bar, which will continue to serve Italian cuisine and sushi in Mission Square at 1585 Pine Ridge Road. “I am still in transition mode. I have some more remodeling to do,” messaged Joseph Sutherland, who purchased the Noodles business with his father-in-law last fall from the Berman brothers. “The stage is almost done. Should be done by mid next week. The new signs are ordered. Still waiting on the install date. Once these things are done, I will have a grand opening party.”
New ownership also will change the longtime original location of Pelican Larry’s Raw Bar & Grill at 1046 Pine Ridge Road into The Oasis this spring. “I’m planning on leaving it open as is for now for the next month and a half. Then, in March, I plan on closing down for maybe a week or five days to put the finishing touches on the place and then reopen as the fully rebranded Oasis,” said Naples resident Dan Latino, the new owner of the local bar and grill.
Estia, an upscale Mediterranean and Greek restaurant, will transform the former space of Bokamper’s Sports Bar & Grill at 8990 Fontana Del Sol Way, fronting Vanderbilt Beach Road. The new restaurant will be the first in Florida for the Pashalis family, which operates a restaurant group that includes three Estia Greek-Mediterranean restaurants in the Philadelphia and South Jersey area. The fine-dining restaurant, designed to elevate traditional Greek fare beyond a casual affair, is targeted to launch this fall.
Across the street, Butcher Private will quietly launch soon in the former Agave restaurant space. Originally announced as a steakhouse concept, Butcher will be a private, members-only business club. Veljko Pavicevic, who co-owns the upscale venue as well as Sails Restaurant in Naples with Corinne Ryan, said Butcher has 300 members — “the best of the best business Olympians” — and 3,000 on a waiting list.
Nearby in the Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt, Imperio Taqueria soon will move into the unit vacated last year by Vampire Penguin Shaved Snow & Desserts. The full-service Mexican restaurant will be locally owned and operated by the Cruz family of Golden Gate Estates. Also, in Shoppes at Vanderbilt, Crave Cookies plans to open its first regional location later this year in a new building under construction fronting Airport-Pulling Road at the northeast corner of the shopping center.
The first area location of Kelly’s Roast Beef recently began construction as a new outparcel next to Panera Bread in the Gateway Shoppes at North Bay on the northwest corner of U.S. 41 and Wiggins Pass Road. Known in the Boston area for its roast beef sandwiches and lobster rolls, Kelly’s also is targeted to open a drive-thru franchise this year at Founders Square along Immokalee Road just east of Collier Boulevard.
After launching seven eateries there last year, Founders Square will continue to be a hot spot in 2023. In addition to Kelly’s Roast Beef, Lake Park Diner plans a freestanding restaurant there and Havana Libre Cuban Cuisine and 110 Grill will be part of The Plaza at Founders Square anchored by Sunshine Ace Hardware under construction now in the center of the development.
Don’t be surprised to see a couple of new restaurants at Green Tree Center, too. Two new vacant restaurant spaces remain in the center on the southwest corner of Airport-Pulling and Immokalee roads.
“We’re looking for a French restaurant with a bakery, a steakhouse, a bistro kind of restaurant or a Cuban restaurant. Those are the four types we’d like to put in here that we don’t have yet,” said Jack Crifasi of Crifasi Real Estate. “The center has been very successful since we renovated. We are getting a tremendous amount of compliments.”
The “Tim Aten Knows” weekly column answers local questions from readers. Email Tim at Tim.Aten@NaplesPress.com. Follow him on social media: @TimAtenKnows on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.