Q: Just left the site of Jona Cafe. We order lunch from them every other week or so. They just up and closed. Any insight?
— Robin, Naples
A: I was unable to track down Astrit and Albana Dervishi, the Albanian couple who opened Jona Cafe last summer and closed it a few weeks ago. So, we can only speculate as to why they closed their cafe, located across from Outback Steakhouse in Tanglewood Market Place, 4910 U.S. 41. N.
That same North Naples location has seen a smorgasbord of restaurants — Bin 58, Cafe C’est Bon, Dolce & Banana Tropical Bistro, Taj of Naples, Tropical Smoothie Café — come and go within the last 15 years. Immediately preceding Jona Cafe, it was Chrissy’s on 41, which it is destined to become again soon, but with a slightly new name: Chrissy B’s.
Longtime Naples restaurateur Chrissy Bianchi-Rabil, who had been subletting that space to the Jona folks, said she is opening a lunch-dinner restaurant there next week.
“This is my final restaurant. This is my 20th year (operating Naples restaurants). I’m creating my dream restaurant,” Bianchi-Rabil said.
While the menu will feature the regular Chrissy’s lunch items with Mediterranean touches here and there, the dinner menu will include all of her favorite things, influenced by feedback from her loyal patrons over the years, she said.
“There’s going to be something for everyone,” she said.
Those dinner favorites include her stir-fries and pasta dishes as well as shrimp scallop and crab au gratin, horseradish and potato-encrusted salmon, and Chicken Bianchi, a grilled chicken breast atop sauteed spinach and topped with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives and a lemon butter sauce.
“I’m trying to set myself apart from the average,” she said.
Remodeling of the cafe and redesigning the dining room have been under way for weeks. Workers are busy tiling the floor and building a bar to serve wine and beer.
“I’m hoping to give it a comfortable, warm look,” Bianchi-Rabil said. “I envision a very cozy, romantic restaurant with incredible food and incredible prices. And a lot of laughing.”
Chrissy B’s is not the only recent change in the Bianchi-Rabil family tree of local restaurants. Chrissy’s Bianchi’s, an outparcel in East Naples’ Courthouse Shadows shopping center, has been renamed Freddie’s Neighborhood Restaurant.
Collier County now will have two Freddie’s and two Chrissy’s restaurants. Last year, Bianchi-Rabil and her husband, Fadi Rabil, opened Freddie Rebel's Neighborhood Sports Bar & Grill in North Naples and reopened Chrissy’s at Bayfront in Naples.
The new Freddie’s, 3340 U.S. 41 E., will undergo a makeover soon with the addition of a bar, full liquor license and television screens, an infusion of Spanish cuisine to Freddie’s current menu, and expansions to the building’s east and west sides for starters, said Fadi Rabil, who hopes to reveal the first phase of his new place before football season begins this fall.
Eventually, Rabil wants to relocate parking for handicapped patrons from the back to the front of the building and extend outdoor dining options. A wrap-around porch would replace the drive-thru used when the site was an Arby’s fast-food location many years ago.
Pate’s restaurant changes
At least two new Naples restaurants are expected to open this fall by the Pate family, a local restaurant dynasty begun by patriarch Cloyde Pate more than 40 years ago. The Pates have served the local dining scene with Cloyde’s Steak & Lobster House, Pate’s Marker 4 restaurant, Pate’s Piccadilly Pub, Catch 22, and Corks Steakhouse & Wine Bar, among others.
In October, Cloyde’s son, Stanly, plans to open Pate’s House of Prime Rib in the former Coastland Center mall location of Ted’s Montana Grill, the Ted Turner bison burger chain that vacated the space in January 2010. For the past six years, Stanley Pate has operated Pate’s Steak House at the Ramada Inn — previously Holiday Inn — at 1100 U.S. 41 N. in Naples.
Pate said he will continue to operate a restaurant in the hotel on U.S. 41, but it will serve comfort pub fare and be renamed Pate’s Pub, also effective in October. Both new restaurants will have new menus, of course.
As its name implies, the Coastland Center location will specialize in prime rib.
“The main focus is the prime rib. We’ll feature that with steaks and seafood, the fresh catch of the day,” Pate said.
Don’t let the mall location fool you. Pate’s House of Prime Rib will offer an upscale, white-tablecloth dining experience where thick slices from standing rib roasts are served tableside from stainless-steel carts, Pate said.
Meanwhile, Eric Pate’s Backstreet Bar & Grill, 849 Seventh Ave S., closed in early July after operating for about a year and a half in that downtown Naples location.
Eric Pate, who is Stanly’s younger brother and also a longtime, local restaurateur, reports he had a successful first full season, and he hopes the closing of his restaurant is only temporary.
After shuttering the Backstreet Grill during the slow summer season, Pate said he hopes to reopen in October at that same location, also formerly home to Gina’s on Seventh Avenue and Nektar restaurants.
More local restaurant news
■ Joey D’s Italian Restaurant, 2356 Immokalee Road, is nearly tripling its size in North Naples' Green Tree Center. After operating locally for more than 13 years, the New York-style pizzeria is temporarily closed, but will reopen soon with a full bar and a much larger dining area. Owner Joey DiPascale said he recently took over two adjacent retail spaces and is expanding his namesake restaurant from 1,600 square feet to about 4,500 square feet. He said he closed for expansion about three weeks ago and is hoping to reopen by the first week in September. In addition to more space and a full liquor license, the new Joey D’s will stay open later and have 21 televisions, entertainment and a late-night menu, DiPascale said.
■ Beach Deli Café opened in May at 2364 U.S. 41 E., in the multi-unit building just west of Pet Supermarket. Owner Andrea Gjordeni, who also has the adjacent Shore Upholstery & Fabrics, said his café is open for lunch and dinner 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The café, which boasts the best gyros in town, also serves fresh broasted chicken, Angus steak burgers, New York-style pizza and hot and cold subs. Within a few weeks, Gjordeni said he may be adding a breakfast menu and start opening his café at 7 a.m.
■ The Keys Bar & Grille, 8939 U.S. 41 N., recently closed after operating since March 2010 in the Pavilion shopping center in North Naples. The venue’s website, www.thekeysbar.com, now features a pop-up message: “Coming soon to a SW Florida location near you.” That new location could not be verified by press time this week.
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