Crayton Cove business owners band together hoping they get discovered

To combat declining visitor numbers, businesses in Crayton Cove are banding together to encourage people to “Discover Crayton Cove.”

Nineteen businesses including restaurants, shops, art galleries, charter boat captains and more have joined forces to market Crayton Cove with a new logo, website and special events.

“I’ve had an art gallery and studio in Crayton Cove for ... about 5 years and I have seen the declining numbers of visitors to Crayton Cove,” said Karen Stone, president of the new business group and owner of Art Gallery Old Naples 2 on 8th Street South. “It was a tremendous concern to all the businesses down here. I woke up one morning last May and said ‘I have to do something about this.’”

The group of businesses has named itself Discover Crayton Cove, and their website is www.discovercraytoncove.com.

“It’s by the water, it’s comfortable, it’s a great place to be,” said Natalie Guess, who owns the Guess-Fisher Gallery with her husband Phil Fisher. “It’s one of the few places in Naples that still has that old Naples feel.”

“You’ve got the docks right out here, all the fishing guys, the breeze,” Fisher said.

Fisher and Guess are artists, and from 1997 to 2009 they had a gallery on Fifth Avenue South. Fisher moved his studio to 12th Avenue South about a year and a half ago, and Guess followed her husband last month.

The couple started Art After Dark last spring, a monthly event where all the Cove galleries open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the second Saturday of every month, offering art, food, drink and music. It’s been very popular, they said, and it’s one of many events the Discover Crayton Cove group plans to continue and promote.

Another promotion is Cook My Catch, a partnership encouraging people who go out on fishing charters to bring their catches to Cove restaurants to be cooked. Another is a monthly Crayton Cove Sunset Salute, where a local veterans group will lower the American flag in the district’s roundabout.

“This is kind of an announcement to the public that we’re still here, and we want to invite more people to rediscover us,” said Wanda Klopf, who owns the Naples Ships Store on 12th Avenue South with her husband Eric Klopf. They’ve been in business 25 years.

“Do you know how many local people don’t know where we are?” she said. “When you first move here you fix up your house, you get into your routine and then you forget the reason you came in the first place: Boating or the beach or relaxing outside in the sun.”

All of Naples used to feel like a small fishing village, she said. Crayton Cove still does. Visitors can walk along the public docks and sit in Adirondack chairs under a pavilion to watch the boats go by on Naples Bay, she said. Then in the afternoons, they can watch the fishermen bring in their catches.

Winter visitors Caroline Whelan, 58, and her husband Randy Whelen, 54, wandered around Naples Ships Store on Monday afternoon, looking for decorations for their new condo in Estero. The couple, who are from Ontario, Canada, had been to the beach in the morning and were doing some shopping before heading to The Dock restaurant for lunch.

“We just stumbled upon (Crayton Cove) accidentally after we were at the beach last year,” said Caroline Whelan. “It was fun. We went into the art gallery and there was a guy playing the guitar.”

The guitarist asked Randy Whelan to play the guitar with him, so they played for awhile together. This year, they came back for a second visit.

“(Crayton Cove) does stand out for me as different,” said Randy Whelan. “It’s quaint. It’s calming. It’s laid back and unique.”

Locals Alexandra Garguilo, 21, and Ryan Brown, 27, agreed. They sat outside Napoli on the Bay Pizza & Italian Deli on 12th Avenue South eating lunch. Both grew up in Naples.

Crayton Cove is in a great location because it’s within walking or biking distance from the pier, Third Street South and Fifth Avenue South, Brown said.

“I think promoting it more would be good,” he said. “It’s close to Third and Fifth, but it’s different. Not as posh, not as trendy. It’s got more of a low-key vibe. And there are great restaurants that a lot of people don’t know about.”

Discover Crayton Cove plans an official announcement of its plans on Tuesday at 9 a.m. at The Dock at Crayton Cove.

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