Q: What's the story with E.B.'s on Davis (next to IHOP)? It's been closed for years, but the sign stays up. Is anything happening there?
— Paul, Naples
A: After the economic downturn put that property's redevelopment plans on hold and shuttered E.B.'s Steak Seafood and Much More for the last five years, something may be happening there soon.
Owner Eric Bachelor, whose initials form the restaurant's name, said he may put a chain restaurant there after noticing that the Olive Garden next door has done extremely well.
"Hopefully, I'll have something in there this year," he said. "It would be better to have something there as not."
Bachelor, the owner of Plantation-based Bachelor Foods Inc., has some experience with national chain restaurants. He owned a string of Outback Steakhouse restaurants in Missouri and Illinois until he sold them in 1996. Outback has had an eye on the East Naples market for years, but Bachelor isn't revealing yet which chains he has been talking to about opening in E.B.'s, connected to the Fairfield Inn & Suites via a covered walkway.
E.B's, which opened in January 2002, was a special kind of place that did well, Bachelor said, but just not well enough all year long in a seasonal market.
"E.B.'s was very well received." he said. "I've always had a plan to reopen it, if I didn't open the office building."
So, the former restaurant's signs remain and the building has been painted and maintained by Bachelor during its dormancy.
Bachelor had architectural plans and permits approved to redevelop his 6 acres at 1775 Fifth Ave. S. on that Davis Boulevard corner, meaning E.B.'s would be razed and replaced by a 40,000-square-foot office and commercial center. Bachelor also has plans for a marina with 24 to 30 boat slips behind the Fairfield Inn on his property, which stretches behind the adjacent Red Roof Inn.
But now Bachelor said additional office space is not needed in the area.
"It's better for a restaurant today, because I can open it quicker," he said.
Gateway Shoppes restaurants
Q: Up here at the Gateway Shoppes (41 and Wiggins), the long-awaited Maguro Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi is seeing a good deal of construction and activity. A help-wanted sign is even out, in the outparcel on the corner by the fountain and Panera, etc. I can't believe they'd open before the fall, but maybe they're going to "get it right" before the seasonal crowds arrive? Would you happen to know any details about that or other goings-on in the development?
— Tom Oram, North Naples
Q: Hi. I live in North Naples and was looking forward to Baja Fresh opening at Wiggins Pass and 41. A friend told me they took down their "opening soon" sign and the suite is vacant. Did they pull out? I'm originally from Southern California and was looking for a good fast food Mexican restaurant to open.
— Leslie Turruellas, North Naples
A: Although an opening date has not been announced, the construction schedule for Maguro Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi has the new restaurant being completed by mid-May, said Brett Burgher, director of leasing for Benderson Development, the company operating the Gateway Shoppes at North Bay shopping center on the northwest corner of Wiggins Pass Road and U.S 41 North.
Maguro will be located in a new unit in the outparcel building connected to Scottrade, an online investment firm. At one point, that same space was planned for Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, Burgher said, but that is not happening now, of course.
"We lost that deal. They were going to go there," he said.
It does not appear that Baja Fresh, a California-based chain that features fire-grilled Mexican favorites, plans to open soon elsewhere in the Naples area. A Baja Fresh is coming soon to Wesley Chapel, northeast of Tampa, but no other locations are scheduled for Florida, according to a spokeswoman for the company's marketing department who asked not to be indentified. The chain has four other locations in Florida, but none in Southwest Florida.
As for other businesses coming to the Gateway Shoppes, Burgher said Benderson is talking to a few different companies about locating in the North Naples shopping center, but nothing has been finalized.
Still vacant are the 20,581-square-foot former Circuit City store, a 6,724-square-foot endcap, and at least three other retail spaces. In addition, Gateway Shoppes has two undeveloped outparcels still available in the southwest corner of the shopping center, just west of the future Japanese steakhouse. The shopping center's Wiggins Pass Road entrance divides the two outparcels. Regions Bank has a ground lease on a third undeveloped outparcel between FifthThird Bank and Panera Bread, but has not announced plans for that lot.
Photo by JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER // Buy this photo
More area restaurant news
Naples Tomato permanently closed Saturday night after operating for eight years off U.S. 41 in North Naples.
Europia Bistro closed Friday after operating for two years in Pebblebrooke Center off Collier Boulevard. The bistro's owners, Alex and Eva Stranavsky, plan to reopen their restaurant soon in a new location in The Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt, 2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road, North Naples. The Slovakian couple has leased the 2,225-square-foot former space recently vacated by Bajio Mexican Grill. The new eatery, which will be named Alpine Restaurant, will be larger than the 1,400-square-foot space the bistro left behind.
Expect the same German, Czech, Polish, Slovakian and Hungarian cuisine from Chef Eva, with a few new menu surprises. In addition to wiener schnitzel, paprikash, goulash, perogies, strudel and crepes, specialty sandwiches will be added to the menu as well as a unique product that nobody else is offering in the Naples area, said Alex Stranavsky, refusing to reveal exactly what that is until Alpine opens in two or three weeks.
Tropical Sno, serving finely shaved Hawaiian ice in a wide variety of flavors and creations, opened in March in the heart of Coconut Point in Estero. The new business, located in a kiosk between Hemingway's Island Grill and Tony Sacco's Coal Oven Pizza off Plaza Del Lago Drive, is the only one in the Estero/Bonita Beach area serving shaved ice, said owner John See.
The menu starts with 24 flavors, including cotton candy, green apple, guava, tangerine and root beer, that can be mixed to create interesting combinations such as Cactus Juice (Margarita, pineapple, orange and blueberry), Rock 'N' Roll (grape, blueberry and blue raspberry) and Tiger's Blood (strawberry and coconut). Show them you liked them on Facebook, facebook.com/EsteroTropicalSno, and get a free cup of shaved ice.
Tropical Sno is open 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, and noon to 9 p.m. Saturday. 239-304-6224
Olive Garden opened Monday afternoon in Gulf Coast Town Center, off Interstate 75 in San Carlos Park. The new location, 10020 University Plaza Drive, opens daily at 4 p.m. this week for dinner only, but will start opening daily for lunch beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Italian restaurant's Tuscany-farmhouse design is similar to the Orlando-based chain's location that opened six months ago less than nine miles away in Coconut Point. 239-433-0164
Photo by JEAN AMODEA // Buy this photo
Truly Organic Pizza, heeding requests of its early customers, has added pizza slices to its lunch menu. Slices of Classic Cheese are $2.75 each during lunch hours, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Add any meat topping for an additional $1.50 each and veggie toppings for $1 each.
The new pizzeria, located at 1016 Immokalee Road, in the Granada Shoppes in North Naples, also now offers bottled water and nine flavors of 100-percent certified organic iced teas for dine-in, takeout or delivery. Store hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day. 239-598-8888
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"In the Know" is published Mondays and Wednesdays in the Naples Daily News. Find a complete archive of "In the Know" columns at naplesnews.com/intheknow.