Last week we brought you observations from several restaurateurs about why they opened new places in the face of these tough economic times.
Now we focus on others who have moved their establishments to new locations or occupied digs that formerly housed other restaurants.
Philly Grille is the popular new venue by Lisa and Guy Verdi, who wowed Marco with great food for years at Verdi’s American Bistro, then sold it and now run the Philly Grille at 1000 North Collier to great reviews.
“I think my success is just being who I am and keeping it real,” Guy says. “Giving a quality product at a fair price. People know good stuff and are willing to spend a couple of extra dollars for food that’s good and good for them.”
P.S.: Verdi’s at 241 N. Collier is thriving as well, under owners Jorge Salvat and Vince Rodriguez.
Casa Mia has a new location and owners Marie and Tony Brock are delighted with it. They believe their previous spot on Marco Lake was hard for new customers to find.
“We’re in a much more heavily trafficked area now (1000 N. Collier Blvd),” Marie says. “So for us, it wasn’t the economy. Also we now have a bar and entertainment area separate from the dining tables. People who want to dine quietly can do that and the ones that want to hoot and howl can do that.
“We’ve hired a chef from Italy who has cooked in New York and on 5th Avenue South in Naples. People are raving about him.”
Toucan’s is in the spot once occupied by the fabled Bimini’s Restaurant and Bar at 657 S. Collier.
“The economy really wasn’t a factor in our decision,” says co-owner Andy Graver.”
“A lot of customers say they have good memories of Bimini’s, including the music and entertainment and we have that for sure. We’ve got a great location and can’t complain at all. It just takes a while for word to get out.” Phone: 394-0374.
Mango’s Dockside Bistro is a reincarnation of the Chef’s Express, which had a loyal following for more than six years.
“That following helps us tremendously,” says Rick Feinman, who owns Mango’s with his wife Annie and their daughter Lauren. The new waterside location at the Esplanade helps too, of course.
“People come in and are wowed by the food, service and ambience and say they’re glad that we moved here.
“It’s a challenge anytime you open a restaurant of this size, but we can meet that challenge. We’re going to be successful because of who we are and what we do.” Phone: 393-2433.
Let’s hope that applies to all the dining and wining venues around town in 2012.
The ‘in the groove’ man is live at Marco Polo’s Piano Bar
Don Barber, a favorite piano man and all-round entertainer for three decades, has something new to be proud of.
It’s his just-out CD, “In The Groove,” a collection of Don’s original songs, plus some classics in the genres of smooth jazz, the blues and rock ‘n roll.
Don and his colleague, Joerey Ortiz, aka Salamander Slim, wrote some of the pieces on the CD.
“ Joerey and I have been writing songs for almost five years,” Don tells us, “and we have 250 songs to prove it.”
Our favorites on the album include some pieces recorded live with the late Bucko Reed, who also had a wide following in Marco some years back.
Those cuts are entitled “Do Me,” “Down Home Blues” and “Blues as Blues Can Get.”
Many of you know Don Barber’s talent from his performances at venues including Hideaway Beach, the Island Country Club, the Marco Marriott and many others.
But if you’ve not seen Don’s work, now’s your chance. Tom Naifeh at the Marco Polo says Don is appearing Thursday evenings at the restaurant at 30 Marco Lake Drive. That could change, however, so it would be a good idea to phone Marco Polo for an update and maybe dinner reservations as well. The food is excellent. Call (239) 394-5777.
Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail: email@example.com.