Q: Any news on what is going in the old Grecian Restaurant in East Naples?
Q: There has been a lot of work going on at the old Grecian Gardens building on Tamiami Trail East near the intersection of Airport Road. Any ideas on what we can expect there?
A: I mentioned this in May, but the huge, red block lettering on the building makes it clear now. Five Guys Burgers & Fries is projected to open its fourth Collier County location — its first in East Naples and its first local freestanding store — as early as Friday at that location, said operating partner J.R. Rosenau.
The latest Five Guys will be a 3,000-square-foot space at 3148 U.S. 41 E., on the corner of Gordon Street and U.S. 41 East. That venue is best remembered as the successful Grecian Gardens, a local restaurant that opened in 1987 and operated for more than 10 years.
Earlier, that building also was home to two steakhouses: Ponderosa and Steak Town USA, which was operated by Donald Fieldhouse, who still owns the property. Steak Town USA opened on Jan. 1, 1975, so the site’s restaurant history can be traced back more than 35 years.
Despite its lengthy restaurant lineage, the building has been vacant for more than six years following double-whammy damage in 2005 from a major fire that January and Hurricane Wilma that October.
The new Five Guys will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
The other three Five Guys in Collier County are located in Naples-area shopping centers: Goodlette Corners, Marquesa Plaza and Gateway Shoppes at North Bay. Lee County locations are at Coconut Point in Estero, and in Fort Myers and Cape Coral.
According to the nationwide chain’s website, there are more than 250,000 possible ways to order a burger at Five Guys, which uses only peanut oil and fresh ground beef. Although burgers overshadow meat-free offerings, Five Guy’s menu includes veggie and grilled cheese sandwiches.
In search of Gatsby’s Pizza
Q: During the summer, my wife and I, new residents in the far north of Collier County, discovered Gatsby’s Pizza at the corner of U.S. 41 and Wiggins Pass Road. We thought Gatsby’s had the best pizza we’d found in Naples. Then, in late August, we arrived at Gatsby’s to find an empty store and a note of the business’ removal to Bonita Beach Road. So far so good. But now, we find Gatsby’s has again disappeared, and there’s no information about this loss. There’s no trace of it at the Island House, where it had been until recently and where the pizza is definitely not the same as it was when Gatsby’s was there. Can you tell us what the story is and where Gatsby’s is now?
— Robbins Winslow, North Naples
Q: I hear Gatsby’s Pizza has moved out of the Island House Café on Bonita Beach Road. Do you know if and where they are relocating?
— Candy Heaston
A: Gatsby’s Pizza has closed for a second time in as many months. Island House owner Gary Chansler said he parted friends with Gatsby originators Greg and Jackie Chapin, but their new partnership just didn’t work out.
“We just couldn’t meld the two crews together,” Chansler said. “It was a good attempt.”
In late August, Gatsby’s closed in North Naples to merge with Island House Café in its larger venue about 4 miles away in Bonita Springs.
The Chapins operated the local pizzeria for eight years after popularizing their thin-crust pizza at the original Gatsby’s near Columbus, Ohio, in 1977. They could not be reached for comment, but a wall posting Sunday on Gatsby’s Facebook page suggests we haven’t seen the last of Gatsby’s Pizza:
“We are sorry to inform all of you that we are no longer at The Island House. We will keep you informed where our new location will be and we can assure you we will be up and running soon. We thank all of you for your support and GO BUCK-EYES!”
Ruby Tuesday temporarily closes
Q: The Ruby Tuesday on 41 near Pelican Bay says it’s closed for renovations. Do you know when (and if) it is re-opening? Thanks.
— Gail Dorsey
A: The sign on the restaurant’s door is correct: Ruby Tuesday at the Marketplace at Pelican Bay will be closed for remodeling for about three weeks or so.
After operating for 19 years at that North Naples location, general manager Bob Nadvit said it was time to redo the entire interior of the company owned restaurant.
“It was dated,” Nadvit said. “It needed some work and now is the time to do it.”
Unlike the Ruby Tuesday location which closed three years ago at Coastland Center mall in Naples, this stand-alone location will reopen soon — but Nadvit doesn’t have a solid date.
“Probably another two or three weeks, but we have nothing definite,” he said.
Three for Trinity Plaza
Trinity Plaza, which has hosted many dining options over the years, has one new restaurant and two more spots for foodies on the way. The small center is on the corner of Ninth Street North and Third Avenue North, across from NCH hospital.
■ Porto Cafe Mediterranean Grill opened quietly this month at 336 9th St. N., the former downtown location of Sweet Mama’s Island Cuisine. The location next to Grouper & Chips had been vacant since Sweet Mama’s relocated to East Naples in March 2010.
Porto Café is the second local restaurant for owner Feibi Gouda, who opened Falafel Grill two years ago to serve Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food on Pine Ridge Road in North Naples.
Her new restaurant offers everything on Falafel Grill’s menu, plus a lot more items, Gouda said. Porto Café offers more seafood and pasta, as well as more traditional Mediterranean cuisine, she said.
“It’s very, very healthy food,” Gouda said. “Everything is homemade and fresh.”
Porto Café will be open 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. every day except Sunday.
■ Gallo Fino Café, a Cuban sub shop, is targeted to open in December at 318 9th St. N., the former location of Leoni’s Pizza, which closed its downtown location in July. Maria Elena Canete, born in Cuba, is opening her first restaurant with her husband, Angel Arturo Canete. In addition to serving Cuban coffee and sandwiches, the Canetes will offer other deli sandwiches, soups and salads.
■ Simply Cupcakes is scheduled to open in mid-November at 300 9th St. N., the end cap previously home to Jane’s Café and Fannie’s. This is the third local place for Simply Cupcakes, but its original retail store on U.S. 41 next to ABC Liquors in East Naples will be closed Nov. 17 and converted to a baking facility — basically, a cupcake factory — for the new location and the Marco Island store, which opened in February at the Shops at Olde Marco.
Simply Cupcakes owner Joanne Glasgow said she also plans to open a smaller place next month in North Naples, sharing space with the existing Naples Ice Cream Factory in Green Tree Center.
MORE LOCAL RESTAURANT NEWS
■ Istanbul Kebab House in the Coastland Center mall closed Oct. 2 after operating for nearly two years. The food court location, which served gyros and other Mediterranean cuisine, opened in December 2009.
“Coming soon second location” was posted Sept. 2 on the restaurant’s Facebook page, but another local venue will not be opening soon. Owner/ chef D. Deniz Suuctugu plans to open another restaurant, Troy Mediterranean Cuisine, Nov. 1 in the Mall at Wellington Green on Florida’s east coast.
■ Margarita’s opened Oct. 3 in the Pavilion, 871 Vanderbilt Beach Road in North Naples. The Mexican restaurant is located behind Fleming’s on the shopping center’s U.S. 41 leg. Shortly after opening, the restaurant experienced air conditioning problems and had to close for three or four days, but it reopened last week , co-owner Diana Perez said.
The menu for the new local restaurant mirrors that of the first Margarita’s on Marco Island. Perez and her chef husband, Ismael, also continue to own and operate the original restaurant in Marco Town Center mall.
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