Q: Do you know what happened to weather radar Comcast Channel 25? Two calls to Comcast customer service resulted in “I don’t know, but I heard the radar was stuck up North” and “I don’t know.” Now Channel 25 goes right to Channel 47 weather.
— Jack Jameson, Naples
Q: When Comcast changed its menu of programs recently, it did away with its local weather radar that was on Channel 25. That radar was a godsend to those of us who work and play outdoors. What is the phone number of the person highest in their chain of command that I can complain to in person ... or his email address?
— Stan Chrzanowski, Naples
Q: Perhaps you can find out why Comcast removed the weather radar Channel 25. Comcast did this right at the start of the storm season. The radar channel was quite informative, especially in tracking storms during this time of the year. How do we get Comcast to reinstate the radar channel in Naples?
— B.D. Douglas, Naples
A: Dropping the weather radar channel near the start of hurricane season is a public relations nightmare that one local caller compared to Coca-Cola changing its formula in 1985. While that comparison is a stretch, the timing of the change couldn’t have been worse for the largest cable television operator in the area.
That’s why I have to believe Barbara Hagen, Comcast’s vice president and general manager for the entire region from Sarasota southward, when she tells me the disappearance of the weather radar service in May was because of equipment failure and not someone tinkering with the classic Comcast formula. Once an upgrade is complete, weather radar will return to digital Channel 25, Hagen promises.
Although this information was reported in Bill Green’s "Stay Tuned" column on June 3 and again last Saturday in the Daily News, letters to the editor and word of mouth to the contrary have exacerbated the issue. The questions above are representative of even more emails and phone calls received about the service loss. Comcast, of course, also is receiving a lot of feedback on what is believed to be a temporary problem.
Trying to communicate with someone at Comcast often can be frustrating for customers seeking satisfaction. That is why I was especially impressed when Hagen — called one of the most powerful women in cable — personally called after 6 p.m. one day last week to return my call from earlier that afternoon.
After the irreparable equipment failure, Hagen said Comcast is negotiating a contract with a new vendor to provide software for the 24/7 weather radar service. Expect Channel 25, temporarily simulcasting the Weather Channel, to return to its regular programming soon, Hagen said.
“I’m still kind of hoping within the next couple of weeks,” she said.
In the meantime, this information already is available at the fingertips of local boaters, anglers, homeowners, landscapers, construction workers and anyone else wanting to know if a storm is brewing. Computer users should check out the interactive weather radar feature at naplesnews.com/weather. You can zoom in on local streets to see real-time animated radar and weather conditions.
Area restaurant news
■ Jana’s Little Prague Restaurant opened Monday at 289 U.S. 41 S., in the former location of Little Prague Bistro, which recently closed after operating for two years next to Silvio’s Shoe Repair in that small strip center on the corner of Third Avenue South. The new Czech restaurant is owned and operated by Jana and Douglas Conte of Naples. Jana, a Czech chef, previously owned a restaurant outside the Czech Republic for nearly a decade. The interior décor of the restaurant isn’t changing, but the new menu will have 20 percent lower prices than most other area restaurants, Douglas Conte said. Except for its opening day, Jana’s Little Prague will be closed Mondays, but open 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner six days a week.
■ Heidelberg Bistro is the new name for the former Bohemian Schnitzelhouse, 835 Vanderbilt Beach Road, in The Pavilion shopping center on the northwest corner of U.S. 41 North and Vanderbilt Beach Road in North Naples. The bistro had its grand opening Friday.
■ Fit & Fuel Cafe had its grand opening Saturday at 819 Vanderbilt Beach Road in The Pavilion. The café, open 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day, features a full espresso bar and serves a menu of light morning fare and lunch items, such as pastries, oatmeal, fruit bowls, salads, sandwiches and wraps. The café fronts the Fit Studio, which is connected to the adjacent Naples Cyclery store. Located in a former real estate office, the studio uses the latest technology for professional, intimate bicycle fittings.
Also in The Pavilion, LA Fitness is expected to open in September as the shopping center’s anchor store in the former Publix space.
■ Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt recently signed a lease in North Naples for the first of five new Southwest Florida locations. The California-based chain will open its first area location in the Boulevard Shoppes, 6355 Naples Blvd., Unit 4, across from Hollywood 20 in the same strip center with RedBrick Pizza. The local Menchie's is expected to open at the end of August, said corporate spokeswoman Elizabeth Berry.
Menchie's lets customers serve themselves any frozen yogurt flavors from a wide selection and top it with any of about 50 items such as nuts, fruit, sprinkles, candies or hot fudge. Cost is based on the weight of each creation.
The fast-growing franchise has 90 stores nationwide, but will have 200 locations by next summer, Berry said. At least 35 of those will be in the Sunshine State, including four other Southwest Florida locations opening in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Sarasota and Bradenton.
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