Q: Do you have any info on the gas/auto repair station (Krantz) on the southeast corner of Davis and Airport Road? It looks like it has been abandoned and has become an eyesore to this heavily traveled area.
— Katy McCauley, East Naples
A: Cubs or no Cubs, A Taste of Chicago is expanding in the Naples area. After serving as the site of a service station for nearly 30 years, the southeast corner of Airport-Pulling Road and Davis Boulevard is expected to be a new location for Augustina’s A Taste of Chicago by Nov. 1.
The Krantz BP gas station recently closed at this location, 3300 Davis Blvd., but the Krantzes moved their auto repair shop and Florida Truck Rental operation a short distance east to 3855 Davis Blvd. It’s on the north side of the street this time.
Krantz leaves behind a busy East Naples corner surrounded by a Home Depot lot. Rick Berec, who has operated Augustina’s A Taste of Chicago a short distance north in the red wagon kiosk at Estey-Air Plaza for a year and formerly on Rattlesnake Hammock Road, is excited about his new location.
“The new place is going to be an amazing place for everybody,” he said.
Augustina’s, named for Berec’s grandmother, will also continue to operate out of the red wagon at 1195 Airport-Pulling Road.
The former home of Krantz Auto Center began as a Mobil training facility from 1980 to 1982, before it became an Exxon-Mobil station, and eventually a BP station. The company sold longtime employee Terry Krantz the station in 1994. Krantz, in turn, sold the property nearly four years ago. Collier County records show that the property sold for $627,000 in 1994, and $2.1 million in 2006.
Krantz doesn’t exactly regret walking away from the gasoline business.
“It’s the best thing I ever did,” he said. “The gas business used to be good. It went down the toilet three and a half years ago. It’s not the same anymore.”
I recalled the days when Krantz’s Exxon station used to have price wars years ago with the Hess station across the street. Both were as low as 99 cents a gallon at one point.
“Those were the days when it was fun,” Krantz said.
In 1990, Krantz started renting trucks, which has become the center of his business, especially during the summer months. His peak season is a bit reversed because he sees more truck rentals in the summer than in the winter.
In addition to continuing his car repair and truck rental businesses, Krantz will offer cars for sale on his new lot through a joint venture with Affordable Luxury Motors Inc. Terry Krantz said all of his employees retained their jobs in the move, except he now considers himself retired.
“I’m actually, technically not working here anymore now,” he said. “I’m around, but not doing much.”
His son, Robert, is now running the shop, assisted by Terry’s wife, Connie, Krantz said. Meanwhile, another of Krantz’s sons will use the former auto center corner for a few weeks to sell furniture and items for estate sales.
Q: Just wondering about what’s going on with Frisco’s restaurant. Last year, they announced they were closing to focus on their catering division. I’ve seen their vans at charity events, church functions, and private events but their website is www.naplesweddingcatering.com. Are they still owned by the same people?
— Fred Tomakins, Pelican Bay
A: Yes, Bruce and Eric Waligora still own Frisco’s, 1460 Golden Gate Parkway, and maintain friscosonline.com, as well.
Although the restaurant remains closed while its kitchen is used for what has become a successful catering operation, co-owner Eric Waligora said he expects the restaurant to reopen in September.
Until then, Frisco’s will continue to focus on catering, especially corporate catering, Waligora said.
“We do a lot of box lunches for corporations in town and what not, weddings, charity events, just pretty much focusing on catering,” he said. “We didn’t stop doing our lunch delivery service. We just didn’t focus on it.”
The business, which caters events from $10 a person and from 15 banquet menus, works with many area churches. He recently launched a create-your-own menu for weddings, featuring bronze, silver and gold packages, Waligora said.
More local restaurant news
■ Europia Bistro recently opened to serve up German, Czech, Slovakian and Hungarian cuisine, and even crepes and ice cream, in its North Naples location at 15215 Collier Blvd., the former Pebblebrooke Center location of an ice cream parlor. The new bistro’s owners, Slovakians Ladislav “Alex” and Eva Stranavsky, can satisfy your cravings for wiener schnitzel, paprikash, goulash and strudel. See the full menu attached at left.
■ Johnny Malloy’s Sports Pub in Estero is now Olympia Grille and Sports Lounge after a recent ownership change. That golf club location, 21253 Stoneybrook Golf Blvd., near Corkscrew Road and Miramar Outlets, used to be Stoney’s Sports Cafe. That leaves the Bonita Springs location of Johnny Malloy’s/Geppetto’s as the only one of the 12 remaining locations not in Northeast Ohio. The regional chain is based in Cleveland.
Find a complete archive of “In the Know” at naplesnews.com/intheknow.