Q: Love your article. The first thing I look for in the Wednesday paper. Four or five months ago you wrote of a new bagel shop opening on the East Trail across from Naples Towne Centre. I also see where they started to remodel the old Dunkin' Donuts location but see no progress in the past three months or so? Can you give us an update? Thanks.
— Bagel Lover
A: The second location for Empire Bagel Factory quietly opened Friday in Sherwin-Williams plaza, 3802 U.S. 41 E., at the corner of Guilford Road and the East Trail. It's across the street from Rib City in Naples Towne Centre.
Amy Wojcik, who has operated Empire Bagel Factory on Marco Island for more than three years, had wanted to open her East Naples location about six months ago, but had some issues with drawings, permits and inspections in renovating her new business.
Wojcik said her fresh-baked bagels, doughnuts and muffins are made daily at her Marco location and delivered to the East Naples store. The new store is open 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
As for the former Naples Towne Centre location of Dunkin’ Donuts, that 1,750-square-foot space at 3795 U.S. 41 E. remains available to lease from Tampa-based RMC Property Group.
Gulf Coast Donuts LLC, which operates six Dunkin’ Donuts franchises in Collier County and Bonita, plans to open another Dunkin’ location nearby in Courthouse Shadows. In August, the company purchased the half-acre outparcel just south of Burger King at the southernmost tip of the shopping center, but do not have target dates set for construction or opening, according to spokeswoman Myriam Rojas.
By the way, the southern half of Naples Towne Center from the former Dunkin’ Donuts to Aaron's, Towne Centre 6 theatre, Beef O’ Brady’s and AutoZone will undergo a major renovation project starting within the next few weeks. Plans call for new storefronts, painting and landscaping, including lots of palm trees for a tropical feel, said RMC spokeswoman Luli Cannon.
“We are excited about the changes,” Cannon said. “We think it will be a real improvement to the area and attract more business to the area.”
Perhaps the most noticeable change, as pictured in architectural renderings, will be the addition of what appears to be small glass pyramids atop many of the stores in the shopping center.
Chrissy’s Wildside Café
Q: In your column a few months ago, I read about the change in ownership of Chrissy's Wildside Cafe. While we were dining there, we engaged in conversation with another patron who mentioned there are a couple of other Wildside Cafes operated by the original owners. Can you tell me where they are located and who is operating them?
— Joyce Eggleston, Naples
A: Only one Chrissy's Wildside Café, located in Carillon Place shopping center, was opened, but its original owner, Chrissy Bianchi-Rabil, has operated numerous other restaurants in the Naples area.
On April 1, Chrissy and her husband, Fadi Rabil, celebrated the 20th anniversary of their locally owned restaurants. During two decades, this culinary couple figures they have served 3.3 million patrons in at least nine combined restaurants.
Currently operating are Chrissy's Bayfront in Naples, Chrissy's Bianchi's in Courthouse Shadows in East Naples, and Freddie Rebel's Neighborhood Sports Bar & Grill in North Naples.
Fadi's original restaurant, C'est Bon, was in Outback's Tanglewood Plaza, in the same location where another Chrissy's eventually opened, and is now home to Jona Cafe. The original Chrissy's, now Alia’s, was on Radio Road. Other former spots include Bianchi's at Bayfront, and Chrissy's in Pebblebrooke Center.
More local restaurant news
■ Rosedale Brick Oven Pizzeria opened April 4 in Magnolia Square in North Naples. The former Chicken Kitchen location, 1427 Pine Ridge Road #105, is in the same building as Starbucks, near the corner of Goodlette-Frank Road. Owners Joe Arato and Joe Gonnelly, both Brooklyn natives, named their local business after Rosedale, N.Y., a suburban neighborhood in Queens where the two met and became best friends. In addition to Neapolitan-style pizzas baked in a wood-fired brick oven, the menu features imported pastas with fresh homemade sauces, mezza luna sandwiches, and other Italian cuisine. Rosedale is open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.
■ GreekElicious Food & Pastries opened Feb. 18 in Imperial Square Plaza on the northeast corner of U.S. 41 North and Imperial Golf Course Blvd., between Wiggins Pass and Immokalee Road. That former location of Pandora Bakery, 975 Imperial Golf Course Blvd., suite 116, is also home to Archipelago Mediterranean Catering. Lucia Temenos opened her new businesses after finding success selling her Greek entrees and pastries every Saturday at the North Naples Green Market at Collection at Vanderbilt. GreekElicious is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, and 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
■ Johnny’s Diner permanently closed late last month at 3584 Mercantile Ave., suite B. The family-owned '50s-style diner with Cuban accents had operated for more than five years at that location in the industrial park area north of Radio Road between Airport-Pulling and Livingston roads. Next-door neighbor Wholesale Screen Printing is expanding its business into the former dining spot, which was a Mexican restaurant before it was Johnny’s.
■ Marcos Cuban Café II opened nearby Feb. 22 in the same building as Captain’s Cabin, near the corner of Mercantile Avenue and Airport-Pulling. The original Marcos Cuban Café, 4110 Enterprise Ave., has flourished in the middle of that East Naples industrial park for nearly nine years. The new location, 1383 Airport-Pulling Road, has a slightly different menu with more selections, said owner Yanete Casanova. That address most recently had been House of Java, and previously was Kiko’s Bodegon Cuban Café. The new café is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
■ Naples Tomato, 14700 U.S. 41 N., now has Chef Bryan “Bubba” Sutton working in its kitchen. It has been a well-kept secret since Sutton, formerly of Tropical Reef restaurant and Dish at Hotel Escalante in Naples, started in November. He said he still manages to occasionally prepare his spicy signature dish.
“It is a little different doing Italian food, but we do run the Hot-n-Crunchy Grouper every once and a while. It might be on the menu soon,” Sutton said.
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