You know that off-the-wall friend who always is trying to turn you on to obscure musicians or cool album cuts? He is opening a one-of-a-kind entertainment venue in Bonita Springs.
“I’m just crazy about it. Music has always been extremely powerful for me,” said Bob Covington, a part-time Bonita resident who has been planning Old Fogies for 10 years.
Bob and his wife, Kelle, will open Old Fogies later this month in a former martial arts studio in the Shoppes at Hawthorne, 26455 Old 41 Road, north of Buffalo Chips Restaurant, in Bonita.
Originally envisioned as a full-fledged restaurant, Covington has scaled back the food portion of his business to an old-fashioned lunch counter serving a menu of low-brow items such as grilled cheese, chicken salad, tuna salad, Italian sausage and fresh salads. To that, he’s adding some standard selections of beer and wine.
Covington, 55, is turning up the music, though, framing Fogies as a 1960s record store, complete with LP album covers along the walls and classic rock posters along the disc jockey booth and food counter. One corner in front has a small stage with musical instruments inviting patrons to pick up and play.
Another corner in the back steps up to an intentionally tacky, 1960s-era living room with a rotary dial phone, pole lamp, lava lamps and a Weltron 2001 “Space Ball” radio and 8-track player from the 1970s. The showpiece, though, is the big console television topped with a tinfoil-wrapped rabbit ears antenna. The TV’s guts have been replaced with a flat-screen playing “The Dean Martin Show.”
“It will be so strange. You may walk in here and hear Pink Floyd, followed by Frank Sinatra, followed by the Gorillaz,” Covington said.
OK, but what exactly is Old Fogies? I’m making it sound as if it’s some kind of odd museum, but it will be closer to a bizarre theme party, an ongoing, energetic sharing and celebration of music with a little food and fun.
“Old Fogies has the usual open mike, live music, trivia, comedy and karaoke, but, it’s all just a little twisted,” Covington said. “A common hour may include 15 minutes of music sharing, 15 minutes of trivia, 15 minutes of a live performance, music, comedy or tightrope, and 15 minutes of karaoke.”
An audience participation system allows patrons to vote off a song or performer, and trivia contests are “3D” — involving clips from films and TV shows and commercials, sound bites from a song and obscure questions, he said.
“The whole idea is to make people feel comfortable when they walk in here,” Covington said. “There will be no pomp and circumstance at all. I think it is going to be fun.”
Fun is the key for the Covingtons, who aren’t necessarily concerned about making a buck off this venture.
“I was able to buy this unit with cash, so there’s no overhead. I’m actually doing this more for fun rather than profit,” he said. “The idea is to be a fun place to come and a fun place to hang out. I want it to be lively, so people say it has energy.”
In fact, the hosts hope Old Fogies doesn’t become so successful that they won’t have time to enjoy the party themselves.
“We want to keep it sleepy,” he said. “I want it to be kick back and not uppity.”
Of course, Old Fogies also offers a unique opportunity to share and learn a little more about music.
“I know a lot about music, but there’s still a multitude I can learn,” Covington said.
MORE LOCAL RESTAURANT NEWS
Local franchisee Jim Bruno signed a letter of intent Friday, and the lease is being drafted for the new location at 25271 Chamber of Commerce Drive, at the southern edge of the shopping center. The shell of the 6,500-square-foot building will be retained, but its interior will be gutted to create the new restaurant and sports bar, Bruno said. He said he also plans to change the facade and add an outdoor patio on the south side of the building, if possible.
This location will be the third Buffalo Wild Wings in the area. The first opened in November 2010 in The Forum in Fort Myers. The second is now expected to open in March in the Courthouse Shadows shopping center in East Naples.
After operating for only about a year, Stevie Tomato’s closed its Bonita location in May 2011, and the building has been vacant since. The new B-Dubs (a favored nickname for the franchise) will be next door to Cirella’s Italian Bistro & Sushi Bar.
■ Marco’s Pizza will open Tuesday for its first full day of business, but franchise owners Bob Burton and Bob Desimone invite everyone to drop by and say hello, sample some pizza and take a tour of the new pizzeria during a “family and friends” night from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday.
Marco’s Pizza, 11985 Collier Blvd., is in Collier Plaza, the same Golden Gate shopping center that has been home to Inca’s Kitchen and the original location of Senor Tequila’s Fine Mexican Grill. The pizzeria has 70 seats inside, plus a couple of tables outdoors. Takeout and delivery also are available.
The local restaurant, part of a chain based in Toledo, Ohio, will serve wine and bottled and draft beer. In addition to pizza, Marco’s menu includes freshly baked sub sandwiches, chicken wings, salads, cheese bread, and platters of meatballs and sausage smothered in a blend of cheeses and the pizzeria’s signature sauce.
Marco’s Pizza is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 239-300-4566
■ Don Pancho’s Mexican Restaurant opened Nov. 28 in the former site of El Paisano Mexican Restaurant, 10401 W. Terry St., Bonita Springs. The restaurant, owned by Delfino Moya Cruz, serves authentic Mexican food for dine in or carry out.
Don Pancho’s is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 239-221-8681
■ Country House Restaurant permanently closed Jan. 1 in the Naples Outlet Center, 6060 Collier Blvd., after operating more than 10 years in the northernmost space of the strip mall. A Mexican restaurant, La Picosita, will open there, although an opening date has not been set, said Jonathan Juricic, general manager of the Naples Outlet Center.
Country House Restaurant remains open at 2206 Davis Blvd. in East Naples.
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