Q: Is there anything we can do to help save St. George? We have been dining there for years, and it is a superior restaurant with excellent cuisine and a waitstaff that is wonderful and welcoming. I really hate to see a restaurant of that caliber close.
Even if it is just open from January to April is better than nothing. Everyone I know loves it there, and even Halloween without them will be really sad.
If you can think of anything, please let me know.
— Caitlin Robinson, Marco Island
Q: I have a $100 gift certificate for St. George & the Dragon. Any way to collect or redeem?
— George A Neilson, East Naples and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
A: Time stands still for Marilyn Ginos.
Six months after speaking with the owner of St. George & the Dragon last fall, nothing has changed regarding the fate of her restaurant that — until it closed last July — operated for more than 42 years in downtown Naples.
“I miss it terribly,” Ginos said last week.
The shuttered restaurant is still for sale, and Ginos still hopes she can find the finances to reopen it. She realizes only a slim chance exists that she will be able to resume operating the restaurant she started with her late husband, George, in November 1969.
“I believe I am between a rock and a hard place, so to speak,” Ginos said. “I keep thinking that if I can get through this time, there’s a chance.”
Last year, Ginos had anticipated possibly opening the restaurant during the winter season this year, perhaps just January through April. But the first season in decades without St. George & the Dragon has come and gone.
Ginos has had offers to buy the old restaurant building and the 1.27 acres of prime downtown real estate it sits on, but she doesn’t consider them serious offers — not close enough to her asking price of $4.9 million.
“They have been unrealistic,” she said.
Breathing new life into the Dragon is not insurmountable, but it won’t be easy, either. The restaurant’s retail beverage license expired March 31, and its food service license ended in December, according to records from the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulations.
Perhaps an investor will step forward and make Ginos an offer she can’t refuse.
Perhaps someone will come out of the woodwork whose fortune was made over a business lunch many years ago in the classic steakhouse near Four Corners.
Maybe it will be someone who wants to preserve a piece of Naples’ past, or maybe relive a more personal memory with a Manhattan or another meaningful toast in the darkened bar.
Those types of memories are making it extremely difficult for Ginos to move on. She might not be awaiting pennies from heaven, but Ginos still won’t let herself believe St. George is gone for good.
The hesitancy is rare from a woman who hates indecisiveness.
“I don’t have a definitive answer for you. After 42 years, it’s a hard decision to make,” Ginos said when asked if her restaurant is permanently closed. “I think eventually I can let it go.”
What about past patrons who are still holding gift certificates for the restaurant?
Ginos said she doesn’t want anyone to feel they have been shortchanged because they have a gift certificate they cannot redeem now. She still receives mail at the restaurant, so drop a line to her and she said she will take care of it.
“Leave a note at the restaurant. We’ll respond,” she said.
St. George & the Dragon’s mailing address is 936 Fifth Ave. S., Naples, FL 34102.
“I’ve had a lot of nice responses and notes,” Ginos said.
Have a local question or memories to share about St. George & the Dragon? 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.