In the Know: Who bought The Tavern in East Naples and what do they intend to do with it?

TIM ATEN
The Tavern, 11397 U.S. 41 E., closed at the end of April 2013 in East Naples.

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The Tavern, 11397 U.S. 41 E., closed at the end of April 2013 in East Naples.

Q: I have heard that the local bar in East Naples (The Tavern) has been sold along with its adjoining properties. Do you know who bought it and what they intend to do with it? Thank you.

— George Parsons, Naples

A: The Naples Manor property at 11397 U.S. 41 E. was sold in March to a Marco Island-based contractor who plans to transform the local watering hole into a plumbing showroom.

Operated by various owners for about nine years as simply The Tavern, the East Naples bar will close at the end of April with a farewell bash.

“Our last shebang is Friday, April 26,” said Kurt Stephens, who has been leasing the space and operating The Tavern with partner Linda Pauly for the last two years. “We have to be out by the end of April.”

The closing celebration will include free food, live bands and a bunch of specials, Stephens said.

“It’s our last goodbye, an homage to our loyal, regular customers,” he said.

The Tavern also will be open the day after the party, but Stephens is not sure how many days the bar will be open after that Saturday.

“We’re going to play it by ear. It depends on the inventory,” he said, noting that he and Pauly are planning to open another tavern in the area.

The sale of the 1.68-acre property on the southern edge of Naples Manor includes five structures built in the 1960s and early ‘70s, including residential houses off Floridan Avenue, which runs parallel to U.S. 41 East south of Rattlesnake Hammock Road.

In addition to The Tavern, the property’s nearly 8,600-square-feet of buildings includes a duplex home, a single-family home and two other out buildings, according to local records on collierappraiser.com.

The residential homes on Floridan will remain rental units, while the commercial structures on U.S. 41 will see new uses, said Chet Hayes, head supervisor of All H20 Plumbing Connections, the local plumbing contractor that now owns the property.

“We are really going to upgrade that property,” Hayes said.

The smaller building next to The Tavern has been home to many businesses for many years, including an insurance agency, a small grocery store, and Patricia’s Hair Studio for at least a decade. Hayes said he and owner Marvin Drummond are not sure what will become of the one-story retail space.

“There’s a lot of things in the works,” he said. “We are contemplating a lot of ideas right now.”

The most interesting local history involves today’s home of The Tavern. It has been various restaurants and bars for more than 40 years.

“It’s the oldest, ‘eastest’ bar in Naples. Until you get to Everglades City, we’re it,” said Stephens. “A lot of our regular customers used to come here way back when.”

The location was best known as Fleming’s Seafood Restaurant in the 1970s and ‘80s. Later, the building had a long run as Goodtimes tavern, and shorter stints as the original home of Grecian Gardens restaurant and Jenny Nick’s Tavern, among others.

Of course, the old restaurant and bar’s new use will be its biggest transformation yet. The new plumbing showroom will be completely functional, meaning customers can operate fixtures such as spray showers to see firsthand how they actually work.

New signs will be erected immediately, but the new business won’t open until renovations can be made, Hayes said.

“We’ll open as soon as we can get it up to par,” he said.

All H20 Plumbing Connections has operated on Marco Island for many years, and its original location will remain open. The expansion is needed because the plumbing contractor has been regularly attracting more and more Naples clients, Hayes said.

“We’re expanding like crazy. We are busting loose,” he said. “It’s just amazing how we’ve grown.”

■ KNOW MORE NOW: What is going into the commercial property that is under renovation at the southwest corner of Fern Street and Danford Street in East Naples? CLICK HERE for the answer.

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Have a local question? Email it with your name and city of residence to intheknow@naplesnews.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.

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