'Daily NewsMakers with Jeff Lytle' ... The arts, opera and dining

“Naples Daily NewsMakers with Jeff Lytle’’ takes the first of two looks at the performing arts — and dining. This week’s guests are TheatreZone’s artistic director Mark Danni, Opera Naples artistic director Steffani Pearce, and Tony Ridgway and Sukie Honeycutt, who mark their 40th anniversary as local restaurateurs.

The 30-minute program airs this morning at 10 on ABC7.

Text and video highlights are at naplesnews.com/newsmakers

Here are excerpts:


NewsMakers: Mark Danni

A look at the performing arts.

Mark Danni

Lytle: TheatreZone is based at the Community School on Livingston Road in North Naples. How do you describe the niche that your organization fulfills in the arts marketplace.

Danni: TheatreZone was created as a professional equity regional theater company here in Naples, not unlike what is in many major cities — in Chicago and San Francisco and places like that — and our mission was to bring quality professional theater. We like to do mostly musicals here to Naples. So we’re bringing in Broadway veterans and celebrities and what have you, and self-producing it right here in Naples in an intimate setting.


NewsMakers: Steffanie Pearce

A look at the performing arts.

Steffani Pearce

Lytle: Please outline the niche that your organization has in the arts marketplace.

Pearce: Well, that’s easy, because we’re the first and only professional opera company in the Southwest Florida region. You’d have to go two hours in any direction to find another company of our category professional regional opera.


NewsMakers: Tony Ridgway and Sukie Honeycutt

They mark 40th anniversary as restauranteers.

Tony Ridgway and Sukie Honeycutt

Lytle: Congratulations on what you’ve achieved. We should point out that your restaurants in Naples now are the Ridgway Bar & Grill and Tony’s Off Third on 13th Avenue South and Bayside at the Village on Venetian Bay.

Tell me, how have you succeeded so long and so well and so handsomely where others have tried and failed?

Honeycutt: A lot of hard work. It’s a lot of hard work, and one of the things that Tony and I have found out over the years ... we have multiple restaurants as you know throughout the course of the last 40 years ... we have found that it is better to have less, because then you can focus on what you’re doing and that you’re there and are seen by your staff and are seen by your customers, and we’ve found that the people want that on premise.

Ridgway: I think that persistence is key. You know, people look at me and go, you’re still working really hard and you’re not a kid. I go, because I have a great constitution; it’s keeps me young and happy.

We have great clients, too, who, when times get tough, are always there for us. So when the gravy train is rolling and the hotels are filled and the visitors are coming to Naples, we, like everybody else, have that bonus when times are tough. We have our best clients who will be there for us. That’s really important.

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