After the readership success of last year's column on local restaurants that opened and closed that year, many "In the Know" column entries this year focused on restaurant news. People are hungry for local restaurant news; readers eat it up, I like to say.
Expanding upon that interest, photo galleries were created this week featuring images of most of the local restaurants that either opened or closed in 2010, or closed and reopened or opened and closed this year. At least more area restaurants opened than closed.
Here are links to the "Now Open" and "Sorry, We're Closed" photo galleries:
Local restaurateurs had a couple of adverse conditions to deal with this year. Some claimed traffic was down because of the Gulf oil spill. Many scrambled to stay open after a regional pipeline accident shut down natural gas distribution.
Columns about the closing of the popular China Pavilion topped my list, attracting three times as many readers as an average column in 2010. The Chinese restaurant in The Pavilion shopping center was popular and served the local community for more than 25 years. But the mystery surrounding China Pavilion's sudden closing and the stench owner Hing "David" Lee left behind attracted both readers and flies.
Whatever happened to Lee? That's a good question that, unfortunately, remains unanswered at year's end.
The two pieces I did on China Pavilion occupy two of the top three spots for most popular column in 2010. The second most popular column provided the opening date of the new hybrid Publix supermarket in North Naples.
Top 10 "In the Know" columns of 2010:
Also making news in 2010 was the closing this summer of Naples' last franchise of Cheeburger Cheeburger. The Fifth Avenue South location had been serving big burgers and shakes for 15 years.
The year saw the closing of two longtime Italian restaurant favorites in East Naples — Giuseppe's and Frascati's, which served the area for 30 years and 15 years, respectively. These locations, combined with area Uno Chicago Grill locations closing, left some readers scrambling for a good place to satisfy their deep-dish pizza cravings. Any suggestions?
An offshoot of Giuseppe's family tree, Salvo’s Pizzeria — run by Giuseppe LoDuca's daughter and son-in-law, Angela and Salvatore Scalici — closed this summer in Magnolia Square. Nearby, Cafe Alessio's in Mission Square West also closed with little fanfare, leaving some patrons and employees clueless.
New names appearing on the local Italian dining scene this year were Rossopomodoro, Tony’s C Place, Sophia’s Ristorante Italiano, and Grimaldi's in Fort Myers.
A handful of area restaurants both opened and closed this year. Making this short list were: The Art of Being (open only February to April) and Rudi's European Cuisine (January to June) in North Naples; Rodeo BBQ Place (late January to early September) and Bayshore Landing Cafe (February to July) in East Naples; and the latest reincarnation of the Dixie Moon Cafe (early February to late May) in Bonita Springs.
A depressing economy didn't get everybody down this year. Quite a few local restaurants opened a second location in 2010. Alice Sweetwater's Too, Fernandez the Bull Cuban Cafe and Moravela's Pizza all added a North Naples location to their East Naples originals. Patric Achilles added Patric's in the Evening next door to his Patric's. Country House Restaurant opened up a second East Naples location.
Two North Naples restaurants, Cafe Italia and Naples Flatbread & Wine Bar, opened second locations in Miromar Outlets in Estero. Senor Tequila’s Fine Mexican Grill in Naples opened a second location in the former Applebee’s in Bonita Springs.
At least a few restaurants changed their names mid-year. The owners of Naples Famous Pizza in East Naples changed their business name to Caffe Portofino. This summer, Fred's Diner in North Naples expanded its menu and entertainment offerings and became Fred's Food, Fun & Spirits. Lindburgers in Naples saw new ownership and an addition to its name, which is now Lindburgers and Bottles. Table 82 in Bonita Springs relocated south to become Table 82 of Naples.
The new year undoubtedly will bring more new names and changes. You already know about a few places on tap: Chipotle Mexican Grill, 360, Seasons 52, A Taste of Brooklyn and Norman Love Confections. Others, such as a new concept planned for the former Naples location of Uno, soon will be unveiled.
Happy New Year!
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