Toast of Naples opened its third location Thursday at 24600 U.S. 41 S. at the Shoppes at Pelican Landing plaza, adjacent to Pelican Landing in Bonita Springs. The 2,500-square-feet eatery is in the former Shrimp Shack.
"It's filling a niche that was missing," said Winterberger, 66, who has lived at Pelican Landing for 12 years, after enjoying an egg white omelet with cheese.
Toast is one of two popular local breakfast and lunch restaurants expanding this year.
Owners chef Ken Vandereecken and his wife, Brandi Lostracco opened their first breakfast and lunch restaurant three years ago in the Pebblebrooke Shopping Center, 15215 Collier Blvd., near the southwest corner of Collier Boulevard and Immokalee Road. The second Naples location opened in October 2011 in the Shoppes at Vanderbilt, 2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road.
"We both like brunch because we like the classics, (eggs) Benedict, big, fat pancakes and French toast, so Toast was born," said Lostracco, 35.
The couple, who have been married for eight years, met while working in a restaurant on Marco Island. A New Hampshire native, Lostracco has lived in East Naples for nine years. Vandereecken relocated to Collier County from Belgium.
Lostracco said the idea to expand to Bonita Springs emerged from customers asking them to open another location closer to them.
"It's kind of like planning for twins," said Lostracco. "You don't really plan for three chaotic business ventures."
But they believe the chaos is good.
Lostracco said sales are double at the Vanderbilt site, compared to the original Toast. About 90 percent of Toast's customers are repeat clientele.
The eatery hired 10 employees for its new spot and plans to hire an additional six to seven employees for season.
All of the hanging artwork around the restaurants are Lostracco's painting. The amateur painter started the hobby the night before the first Toast opened because it needed art. The paintings, which are for sale, are changed seasonally.
Moreover, all of the restaurants are available for special catering events.
Toast has 90-seat space, plus nearly 60 seats outside.
Around 9 a.m. Thursday, Toast filled with more than 22 patrons.
Norma Mitchell echoed her friend Winterberger about the need of a breakfast spot in Bonita Springs.
Mitchell, a 12 year Bonita Springs resident, said every time a business closed in the spot where Toast opened, she hoped a breakfast restaurant would open.
"We are happy they are here," said Mitchell after enjoying good service and a waffle and Canadian bacon.
Specialties include eggs Benedict ($9.50); pecan pie French toast ($8.99) and pancake short stack and eggs ($8.50), plus tax and gratuity. The lunch menu features daily soups, salads and sandwich specials, such as panini sandwiches.
Toast's hours are 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Another popular eatery, Skillets is opening its fourth location by end of December in the former North Naples location of Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro in The Pavilion shopping center, 847 Vanderbilt Beach Road.
The 2,700-square-foot site will have 80 to 85-seat space, plus 40 seats outside.
The eatery plans to hire about 20 to 25 employees for season.
Skillets has other locations, off Airport-Pulling Road, which opened in 1995; U.S. 41 North, which opened in 2003; and Bonita Beach Road, which opened in 1999. Two of the sites are also expanding.
By mid-November, outdoor patios will be available at the locations on Airport-Pulling and Bonita Beach roads.
The new outdoor patio space will increase seating by about 40 percent, or from 110 to 150 seats at each restaurant.
Ross and Noreen Edlund, who relocated 21 years ago from Chicago, started their breakfast concept 17 years ago as Sunrise Café, but eventually renamed it Skillets.
"Our philosophy is to make everything from scratch," said Edlund, a former baker in Chicago for 19 years.
They also opened a restaurant in Charlotte, N.C., in 2010.
However, Edlund, who has been in the food business for 40 years, said the clientele in Southwest Florida is suited for breakfast, which is all about loyalty. He said 70 percent of his patrons are regular customers.Edlund said they had a record season. The eatery reported a 40 to 60 percent increase of sales during high season — January, February and March.
He said sales for those three months in 2012 exceeded the restaurants' profits pre-2008.
The new location will feature the same menu, but it will be the first to have a coffee bar, serving cappuccinos, lattes and gourmet coffees. The other locations will follow suit in the next year, Edlund said.
All Skillets are open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., seven days a week.