Q: Do you know why Pure lounge in Mercato closed and do you know if it is closed for good?
Mercato filed a lawsuit earlier this month against Pure Naples LLC and owner/chef Peter Schmid, claiming a breach of its lease for failing to pay rent beginning in October, and improperly ceasing operation and shuttering the business contrary to the terms of the lease.
The suit, filed Dec. 9 in Collier County Circuit Court, seeks damages in excess of $15,000 and unpaid rent and other charges exceeding $50,000, as of Dec. 8. Contrary to the terms of the lease, Pure ceased operations without notice of any kind and terminated all of its employees on or about Dec. 8, according to the legal complaint.
The lease for the commercial space at 9123 Strada Place, unit 7135, was signed Oct. 1, 2009. The trendy, 5,400-square-foot restaurant/lounge opened in April 2010 in the upscale development.
William Coleman, who signed the complaint as Mercato’s senior general manager, did not return telephone messages left for him. A message left for Schmid at Blu Sushi also was not returned.
Schmid co-founded Blu Sushi and remains a managing member of companies that operate Blu Sushi locations in Fort Myers and Gulf Coast Town Center, and opened Blu Sushi Express on the Florida Gulf Coast University campus in August and another Blu Sushi last month in Hallandale. Blu Sushi in downtown Naples closed in 2009 after operating for about five years.
A copy of Pure’s lease shows that monthly rent payments were $12,803, plus sales tax, for the first two years of the lease, as were the security deposit and last month’s rent payments. The monthly rent payments were to increase to $15,089.75, plus sales tax, for the third and fourth year of the lease, and to $16,461, plus tax, for the fifth year.
The court granted a temporary injunction, preventing Schmid or Pure representatives from removing any property from the leased premises until further notice, court records show.
Augustina's Bistro A Taste of Chicago
Q: What is being constructed on the Home Depot corner of the Davis Boulevard /Airport Road intersection? It was a gas station, but looks like it may be morphing into a fast-food restaurant.
— Gail Kae, East Naples
Q: We have been watching the construction at the corner of Davis and Airport for about a year now. The trees have just been planted. The rest of the building (which was a former gas station) looks like it’s nearing completion. Is it going to be a restaurant? If so, do you know what it is?
— Delma Carretta, East Naples
Q: What is going on in the southeast corner of Airport-Pulling Road and Davis Boulevard? Lots of renovations going on there.
— Jeanne, Golden Gate Estates
Q: What in the world are they building at Davis and Airport Road. It used to be a gas/service station. Please don't tell me another bank, ha ha ...
— Michelle, Naples
A: Yes, the business at 3300 Davis Blvd. in East Naples formerly was a service station for many years. No, it is not going to be another bank or fast-food restaurant.
If all goes as planned, expect to see Augustina's Bistro A Taste of Chicago open next month on that busy corner. Owner Rick Berec said he hopes to open his new restaurant the first week in January.
Berec, who has operated Augustina's A Taste of Chicago in that little red wagon on the corner of Airport-Pulling Road and Estey Avenue for a few years, had initially hoped to open his new eatery more than a year ago. He found it more difficult than he first thought to convert a business that had been a gas station for nearly 30 years into a full-service restaurant.
Ironically, though, the old garage bay doors and large gas pump canopy have been incorporated into the design of the restaurant, which will have more seating outside than inside. The bistro will seat about 65 inside and 100 outside, Berec said.
Not only does the canopy over an outdoor bar feature Chicago’s skyline, but a tribute to the Windy City has been painted on an inside wall. A rendering of Wrigley Field is flanked by Navy Pier and the Chicago Theatre, as well as other Chi-town landmarks.
Of course, as the restaurant’s name indicates, the real tribute to Chicago will be on the menu, which will feature both deep-dish and thin-crust pizza, Vienna Beef hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and kielbasa. The recipes for the bread, pizza, pasta, sausage and most other menu items are from Berec’s grandmother, who the restaurant is named after.
Augustina’s also will continue to operate out of the red wagon a short distance away in Estey-Air Plaza, said Berec, who was born and raised in Chicago.
Paciugo Gelato & Caffè
Q: Paciugo's Gelato closed in Coconut Point mall. They had the best gelato in town. Are they reopening elsewhere, I hope?
— Karen Zawacki, Estero
A: You haven’t seen the last of Paciugo Gelato in Southwest Florida, according to Ugo Ginatta, company co-founder and CEO.
The Dallas-based chain is actively searching for another area location for Paciugo Gelato & Caffè. Its website lists a location as coming soon in Estero, although the company has yet to find the right spot to reopen here.
Paciugo (pronounced pah-CHOO-go) is looking for a suitable franchise location anywhere from Estero to Naples, Ginatta said, hoping to find a highly visible storefront similar to his successful store in downtown St. Petersburg, the company’s only other Florida location.
Paciugo’s Coconut Point store, which opened in December 2008 and closed Oct. 7 this year, lacked an exterior presence and just didn’t have the foot traffic or success the company knows it can have in this area, Ginatta said.
Paciugo’s former Coconut Point location will soon be home to Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes, which opened its third store this month on Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples and plans to open another soon in Mercato, as well.
More local restaurant news
■ Valento’s Pizza & Hoagies opened on Black Friday on the southeast corner of U.S. 41 and Central Avenue in Naples. The location, adjacent to Starbucks, was formerly a Quiznos Sub shop.
The new business is operated by Jared and Sara Gruett, who relocated to Naples this summer from Minnesota. Patrons are already giving Valento’s thumbs up for its pizza cut into squares, its huge toasted hoagies and its home delivery. The pizza recipe with its super-thin crust and thick and flavorful sauce comes from Dulono’s Pizza, a legend in Minneapolis for more than 50 years, Jared Gruett said. The menu also includes salads, wings and some interesting appetizers such as fried pickles, Wisconsin original cheese curds and Italian fries — a pizza crust covered in garlic butter and mozzarella cheese.
■ Mango’s Dockside Bistro opened Oct. 29 in The Esplanade, 760 N. Collier Blvd., on Marco Island. The new bistro, located in the former location of Guy Harvey’s Island Grill, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Friday with a view of Smokehouse Bay.
“There’s no place on Marco where you can have breakfast on the water. Now, we have that at Mango’s,” said co-owner Rick Feinman, who formerly operated the popular Chef’s Express on Marco with his wife, Chef Annie, and daughter Lauren. “We have an outstanding breakfast, lunch and dinner here.”
Mango’s extensive menu features many healthy choices as well as numerous variations of Eggs Benedict, soups, salads and sandwiches.
■ Chuey’s Tacos opened Oct. 16 in Coconut Point in Estero. Located in a kiosk next to Hollister and in front of Hollywood Theaters, Chuey’s features homemade burritos, quesadillas and nachos, in addition to tacos.
“Everything is fresh and made from scratch,” said owner Claudia Porter. “This is my baby.”
Porter prepares everything herself from her own tortillas to her own recipes for salsas.
■ Moe’s Southwest Grill opened Dec. 8 in Coastland Center mall’s food court in Naples. Moe’s, the national chain known for its made-to-order burritos, took the spot next to Chick-fil-A formerly occupied by Istanbul Kebab House, which closed in October after operating for nearly two years.
■ Gordon’s on the River is opening Jan. 4 at Naples Harbour, 475 North Road, located along the Gordon River behind Naples Municipal Airport. The new waterfront restaurant is above Jack’s River Bar. Its steak and seafood menu will include Veal Oscar, Florida Lobster Thermidor, bone-in prime rib with Yorkshire pudding, and aged Black Angus steaks. A new signature dish called Gordon’s Quartet will feature wild boar sausage, ostrich wing, venison tenderloin, and beef short rib, each paired with a complementary sauce. Reservations are required. Call 239-213-1441, ext. 214.
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