Q: What happened to Luna Rossa restaurant in the Collection at Vanderbilt shopping center?
A: Luna Rossa Italian Restaurant closed last week in the Collection at Vanderbilt, the shopping center on the northwest corner of Airport-Pulling and Vanderbilt Beach roads in North Naples.
“It is true, our restaurant went out of business,” reads a message posted May 23 on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “Due to the bad season in Florida this year and the bad economy in the country, Luna Rossa of Naples closed its doors on Sunday, May 22, 2011. Thanks to all our loyal customers, friends and former employees for giving us the chance to serve and work with you.”
The restaurant’s owner, Antonio Scotto Di Perta, could not be reached for comment. A culinary school graduate who hails from Naples, Italy, Di Perta served authentic Italian fare and formerly owned Luna Rossa at Miromar Outlets in Estero.
In a March story published in the Daily News, Di Perta said he was hoping to negotiate a more favorable lease with the new owners who purchased the Collection at Vanderbilt this spring.
The 225,000-square-foot shopping center was purchased by a Texas-based partnership at a foreclosure auction in March. The new owners “promise to breathe new life into the troubled shopping center,” which “is mostly empty, with only 30 percent of the space leased,” according to the published report.
The original owner was Boca Raton-based Woolbright Development, whose troubles at the shopping center can be traced back to planned anchor tenant Fresh Market pulling out of its lease because of construction delays. Five years later, that 19,600-square-foot space remains vacant, as do many other storefronts in the center.
Anton’s Pizza Pasta no more
In late March, Anton’s Pizza Pasta & More, 22088 S. U.S. 41 in Estero, closed — strike three for that location.
In published reports in early March, owner Anton L. Pllumaj blamed his poor business on the closing of the Albertsons supermarket, the former anchor tenant at that U.S. 41 location. Within weeks after being quoted as saying he was “barely making it,” Anton’s Pizza closed.
Pllumaj and his wife, Rita, opened Anton’s in December 2009 in Williams Plaza. Albertsons closed in October 2009, but was still open when the Plumajs signed a five-year lease.
Anton’s continued operating months after its state license expired Dec. 1, according to the website database for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).
A March 2 inspection report by DBPR shows the operator paid the fee for the new operating license, but had not paid yet for case penalties, which included a repeat "critical violation" of not having a certified food manager for the establishment. Pllumaj could not be reached for comment.
Anton’s is the third in a series of pizza places to fail at that same address. That was the former location of Za Za Serious Pizza, which opened in the fall of 2007 and closed in May 2009. Even though its chef was Joe DiMaggio Jr., a grand-grand nephew of the baseball legend, it couldn’t hit a home run.
Da Vinci Pizza Pasta Subs also previously called that spot home. Today, the plaza is nearly empty.
Photo by TIM ATEN // Buy this photo
More local restaurant news
■ El Rincon De Mexico is opening a second East Naples location this month at the former Rodeo BBQ Place near the northwest corner of Davis and Collier boulevards. The original El Rincon De Mexico restaurant, 2248 U.S. 41 E., has operated for about five years next to the original Taco Bell on the East Trail, and now operates the club El Rincon De Latino across the street in the former Bodegon Latino.
The new tenants at 8885 Davis Blvd. are making renovations to the former location of Burger King, Subway and Rodeo BBQ, which closed last fall after its operators blamed the Gulf oil spill for hurting business. The new Mexican restaurant will have indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a disc jockey Thursday through Sunday nights, said manager Jose Del Valle.
■ Randy’s Paradise Shrimp Co., a restaurant and a gourmet and seafood market, soon will relocate its Bonita Springs location to 25010 Bernwood Drive, off Old 41 Road, in the Bernwood Business Park. Randy’s market was previously located a short distance away at 24851 U.S. 41 S. in Bernwood Centre until closing to relocate.
The original plan was to reopen in Bonita near the end of May, but now that probably won’t happen until mid-June, at the earliest, said Randy Essig, who founded Paradise Shrimp in 1995 as a supplier of fresh Gulf seafood. Essig also owns Randy’s Fishmarket Restaurant, 10395 U.S. 41 N., in North Naples, which is known for its key lime pie made with Randy’s Key Lime Juice. The new Bonita restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
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