The first Collier County locations of two fast-growing, national restaurant chains with roots in Ohio are planning to open before the end of the year.
Buffalo Wild Wings
Q: In the newspaper last week, there was an advertisement that Buffalo Wild Wings (BW3's) is hiring in Naples. I know there is one in Fort Myers. Is there one opening in Naples?
— Jen, Naples
A: Yes. Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar will open its first Collier County location in the former Blockbuster store in Courthouse Shadows shopping center in East Naples. The nearly 6,000-square-foot freestanding, fast-casual grill and sports bar is targeted to open in December, said Buffalo Wild Wings regional manager Andrew Lloyd.
"We have to have it done by Dec. 16. That's the deadline to open," Lloyd said. "We're projecting Dec. 1, but we already are behind a week because of a permit issue."
The new store, located near the intersection of U.S. 41 East and Airport-Pulling Road, will include a patio with outdoor seating in front, Lloyd said.
"It's going to be a great looking store, the same generation model as the Fort Myers location," he said.
More than 825 Buffalo Wild Wings locations in 47 states are already operating in the U.S. and Canada. The nearest location opened in late 2010 at The Forum shopping center off Interstate 75 in Fort Myers.
Originally called Buffalo Wild Wings & Weck — from which the abbreviation BW3 stems — front and center on the menu are its namesake Buffalo, N.Y.-style chicken wings with 18 signature sauces. Some of the sauces, in order of spiciness, include sweet barbecue, teriyaki, Parmesan garlic, Asian zing, Caribbean jerk, mango habanero, and Blazin.'
In addition to wings, the menu includes burgers, ribs, flatbreads, wraps, sandwiches, and salads. Each Buffalo Wild Wings — also known as B-Dubs — features a combination bar and casual family dining atmosphere with an entertainment/audio-visual package.
The company's first location was on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus. Initially headquartered in Ohio, BWW is now based in Minneapolis.
Marco's Pizza, headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, is not a household name here yet, but the fastest-growing pizza company in the U.S. has grown from a popular Ohio brand to more than 300 franchised and company-managed stores operating in 24 states and the Bahamas.
The company plans to open more than 85 locations — including one in Golden Gate — by the end of this year. Averaging one new store opening every week, Marco's Pizza expects to have 1,500 restaurants operating in the next seven years.
Likewise, Collier-Lee franchisee Bob Burton has high expectations in this area for Marco's Pizza, which has 30 locations in Florida, but the nearest so far is in North Port in southern Sarasota County.
"We are going to open at least three of them in the next three or four years, God willing," Burton said.
But first things first. Look for the initial location to open in about 10 weeks or so.
"We are kind of shooting for Thanksgiving time — the end of November, the first of December. That's the goal," Burton said.
The location will be in Collier Plaza, the same shopping center off Collier Boulevard that has been successful in launching Inca's Kitchen and the first of three area locations for Senor Tequila's Fine Mexican Grill. Marco's Pizza will be in unit 5, the former home of Eglise Evangelique church, which relocated to another space in the center.
The success of the plaza's other restaurants helped clinch the decision for Burton and franchise co-owner Bob Desimone to open their first Marco's there.
"That was one of the key factors when we picked that location," Burton said.
The Bobs are a couple of longtime area residents and retired guys itching to get back in business.
"You can only play so much tennis. You have to fill in the rest of the day," Burton said. "We are really looking forward to it. We think it's a really good concept."
They plan to hire between 25 and 30 full-time and part-time employees for the 50-seat restaurant. Unlike many of the franchises, the local Marco's Pizza will serve wine and bottled and draft beer.
In addition to pizza, Marco’s menu includes freshly baked sub sandwiches, chicken wings and dippers, salads, cheese bread, and a platter of meatballs and sausage smothered in a blend of cheeses and the pizzeria’s signature sauce.
More local restaurant news
■ IIWII Beach Bar & Grille opened Aug. 31 at 13510 U.S. 41 N. in Wiggins Pass Crossing in North Naples. The new local hangout offers a surprisingly fresh breeze of island life tucked away in the former spot of Mr. J's Tavern behind Daniela's Restaurant.
IIWII — an acronym for "It Is What It Is" and pronounced "E-wee" — brings the beach to the bar. The indoor-outdoor sports bar features 150 seats, including 22 at the bar and 44 outdoors with an outside bar area at both the front of the building and in a screened porch on the side.
DirectTV arrives this week for viewing games on big screens, two inside and one outside. Patrons can be more than spectators here, though, and participate in games of pool, darts, foosball, bocce ball, cornhole toss, golf and volleyball, said Jeffrey Hall, IIWII's co-owner/manager and "cruise director."
The new bar is open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day, with happy hour 2:30 to 7 p.m. Live entertainment takes the stage nightly Wednesday through Saturday.
Free limo service even is offered for the ride home between 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. "Arrive by cab and leave by limo. You just have to tip her," Hall said.
IIWII's new outdoor sign has yet to be installed, but look for the big red "Tavern" sign and the picket fence out front painted pink, lavender, lime green and baby blue.
■ Anthony's Trattoria in North Naples recently closed in Fountain Park, 7935 Airport-Pulling Road, when co-owner/chef Luigi Longobardo went to Italy to be with his severely ill mother.
The local business has been sold to another Italian restaurant, but its name, opening date and other details are not available yet, said Mark Bates, owner of the shopping center and founder of Calistoga Bakery Café.
The original Anthony's Trattoria, which Longobardo started 20 years ago in Bonita Springs and operated until last year, remains open under new ownership and a new name, Anthony's Trattoria Steakhouse Italiana, at 28340 Trails Edge Blvd.
■ Cgrape Chef, featuring Asian and American cuisine, opened Sept. 11 in Imperial Square, 975 Imperial Golf Course Blvd., in the same North Naples shopping center off U.S., 41 where A Passage to India and Jack's Seafood Bar and Grill also call home.
The breakfast menu includes owner/chef Mai Harkness' famous cinnamon roll ($2); fruit, granola and yogurt parfait ($3.95); and stuffed French toast with brie cheese, banana and wild berries ($5.95). Lunch choices ($3.95-$7.95) include chicken quesadilla, mozzarella-tomato-and-pesto panini, spinach and artichoke dumplings, chicken satay and Vietnamese vegetable spring rolls.
The dinner menu ranges from Thai chicken fried rice with peanut sauce ($8.95) to pot roast accompanied by baked potato and garden vegetables ($16.95). Other options include chicken, beef or shrimp pad thai with bean sprouts ($9.95); pineapple mango chicken served with basmati rice and garden vegetables ($12.95); and Maine lobster ravioli in a homemade seafood cheese sauce ($14.95).
Cgrape Chef is open Monday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and for dinner 4 to 9 p.m. 239-596-4303.
■ Silver Spoon Café in the Promenade at Bonita Bay closed Aug. 22 after operating since February 2001 in the Bonita Springs shopping center. Silver Spoon Café owner and president James CarMichael said the Tennessee-based company would consider other area opportunities, but not in the near future.
The remaining Silver Spoon Café in the Waterside Shops, 5375 U.S. 41 N., in Naples, will remain open, CarMichael said.
Have a local question? Email it with your name and city of residence to email@example.com.
"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.