Q: What is happening at the former AmericInn behind Mel's Diner in Bonita Springs? I see that it is blocked off with yellow tape now.
— R.T., Naples
Photo by TIM ATEN // Buy this photo
A: The yellow tape does not cordon off a crime scene, but merely designates a construction zone at the hotel site on U.S. 41 just north of the Collier-Lee county line.
The last guest checked out Sept. 3 after Labor Day weekend at the former AmericInn, which had temporarily been doing business as Bonita Springs Lodge & Suites. The 87-room hotel at 28600 Trails Edge Blvd. is scheduled to be renovated and reopened later this year as La Quinta Inn & Suites, said general manager Sean Archer.
"This hotel was very outdated, so basically, we want to update it," Archer said. "We are just in the middle of remodeling. We are really excited. It's going to be a fantastic product when we are done."
In April, TerraCap Partners II of Cape Coral purchased the former AmericInn for $2.85 million. Located directly behind Mel's Diner, the hotel overlooks a lake behind it that borders the Wood's Edge residential community.
TerraCap contracted with Pinkerton & Laws for renovation work of the 12-year-old hotel. The four-story building will be completely renovated inside and out, Archer said.
Remodeling includes all new flooring and furniture in the hotel's nine two-room suites and its 78 standard rooms, he said. In addition to the guest rooms, renovation under way includes the hotel's lobby, breakfast area, corridors, restrooms and other public spaces.
"It's going to be like a brand new hotel. It really is," Archer said.
New businesses near Gulf Coast Town Center
Q: I see there are two new buildings going up to the north of Gulf Coast mall next to the new Olive Garden. Can you share with us what these businesses will be? Thanks.
— Jim, Estero
Q: At the Gulf Coast mall, there is a restaurant under construction right next to the new LongHorn Steakhouse. Is this the new Red Lobster we have been waiting for? It would make sense that Darden bought all three locations next to each other.
— Dan Doerr, Estero
A: Two more restaurant chains are opening this year in University Plaza, the shopping center on the southwest corner of Alico Road and Ben Hill Griffin Parkway. Olive Garden opened April 30 in the center, which abuts the northern boundary of Gulf Coast Town Center.
LongHorn Steakhouse is set to open its third area location at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 24, said managing partner Rich Fillak. The steakhouse chain will be open for lunch and dinner every day, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, he said.
In addition to its new regional location at 10030 University Plaza Drive, LongHorn has two other area locations, both off U.S. 41 — one in Naples and another one in south Fort Myers.
Although the chain is not as well known as its Darden neighbors, Cheddar's has more than 80 locations in the U.S., primarily in the South and Midwest. The chain, which started in Texas in 1979, has only three other Florida locations — in Clearwater, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.
Despite its name, Cheddar's menu isn't particularly cheesy. It features steaks and burgers, chicken and seafood, and sandwiches, soups and salads.
As for a new Red Lobster with its famous Cheddar Bay Biscuits, you'll have to keep waiting for another area location for the popular seafood chain, according to information received from company spokeswoman Heidi Schauer.
"Darden's brands, including Red Lobster, continue to grow, so our real estate teams are constantly looking for sites across the country. However, we are not planning on opening a new Red Lobster in Collier or Lee counties at this time," Schauer said. "We look forward to serving guests at the Red Lobster in Naples, located at 2355 U.S. 41 North, or in Fort Myers, 3801 Cleveland Avenue."
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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.