In the Know: Nearly 30 new local restaurants planned for 2013

TIM ATEN
Erin’s Isle Irish Pub reopened Jan. 7 in the former Bogey's Bar & Grill at Hibiscus Golf Club, a public golf course located off Rattlesnake Hammock Road in East Naples. The original Erin’s Isle, above, closed last summer on Collier Boulevard after operating nearly 30 years.

Photo by ROGER LALONDE // Buy this photo

Erin’s Isle Irish Pub reopened Jan. 7 in the former Bogey's Bar & Grill at Hibiscus Golf Club, a public golf course located off Rattlesnake Hammock Road in East Naples. The original Erin’s Isle, above, closed last summer on Collier Boulevard after operating nearly 30 years.

Although it has just begun, the new year is already shaping up to be a big year for new local eateries.

Nearly 30 restaurants have plans to open in 2013, and those are just the ones we know about. You un­doubtedly have already heard about some of these, too, because some are be­hind schedule and had in­tended to open in 2012.

Nevertheless, it’s im­pressive when you see a compilation of what’s in store:

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

A few fast-casual chains plan multiple locations in the area this year. The early buzz is good for Culver’s, a chain that plans to debut in Florida this year with at least three locations, including one each in Naples and Fort Myers.

Individual franchisees are still looking for area locations, so specific sites cannot be announced yet, said Paul Pitas, a spokes­man for the Wisconsin-­based chain, known for its custard and Butter-Burgers.

“I would imagine over the next month or so we will have more specifics,” Pitas said.

The company is count­ing on transplanted Mid­westerners in Florida to be good ambassadors for Culver’s.

“We know that along the west coast there are a lot of folks who have relocated there and know the brand very well,” Pitas said.

Gulf Coast Donuts LLC, the local franchisee for Dunkin’ Donuts, plans to open three more stores this year. First, a new shop is planned in Immokalee this summer. Up next, the North Naples location in Uptown Center will re­locate a mile east to the out-parcel space in front of the former Albertsons supermarket and Naples International Pavilion at Livingston and Immokalee roads.

The third local Dunkin’ Donuts planned this year is the most anticipated and a holdover from 2012. Be­cause it’s being built from the ground up, it probably won’t open until late in the year on the southern edge of Courthouse Shadows shopping center on U.S. 41 East in East Naples, said Keith Roman, district man­ager for Gulf Coast Donuts.

“As far as I’m con­cerned, that one in Court­house Shadows can’t open fast enough,” Roman said. “It’s coming as soon as we can get it there.”

The new locations come on the heels of three area Dunkin’ Donuts that opened in 2012. The Boni­ta Springs store relocated last January to the former site of Jimmy’s Road­house on U.S. 41 North; a new Golden Gate store opened in July in the for­mer Saltwater Cowboys Bar & Grill; and an East Naples store just opened Monday night near Davis and Collier boulevards in the former home of Burg­er King, Rodeo BBQ and Rincon de Mexico, among other eateries. It even was a Subway/Dunkin’ Donuts combo many years ago.

Meanwhile, Orange Leaf, a fast-growing, self-­serve frozen yogurt chain, will open at least two, pos­sibly three stores this year in the area. Orange Leaf is targeted to open locations March 4 in former video stores in Riverchase Pla­za in North Naples and in Marco Town Center on Marco Island.

“The idea is to open them both at the same time,” said Bil Potter of the Florida development company for Orange Leaf, which plans 120 Orange Leaf locations in the Sun­shine State within the next decade.

In 2012, Orange Leaf opened locations in Mi­romar Outlets in May, the Village on Venetian Bay in June and next door to the Lani Kai Island Resort in Fort Myers Beach on Dec. 19.

Also, expect some pizza-­pizza from Little Caesars this year. In mid-February, local franchisee Luis Velez will relocate the pizzeria he has operated for nearly five years in the Kmart pla­za in Golden Gate a block away to a building with a drive-thru now under con­struction on the other side of the parkway. This will be the Naples area’s first Little Caesars with a pick­up window for its Hot-N-Ready pizzas, wings, ribs and Crazy Bread.

Velez also hopes to re­open the Little Caesars location in the Bed Bath & Beyond Plaza in North Naples that another fran­chisee operated for 24 years until closing it in September 2011.

MERCATO

Mercato, the upscale de­velopment at U.S. 41 North and Vanderbilt Beach Road in North Naples, will continue its upswing of new venues.

First up this year, The Wine Loft is expected to open today or Thursday in a previously undeveloped space on the ground level beneath Silverspot Cin­ema. The locally owned wine and tapas bar will seat about 125 patrons, in­cluding about 30 in a loft for private parties. There is additional seating out­doors next to AZN Azian Cuizine.

“I hope we are going to fill a niche that’s missing there,” said Sarah Kear­ney, who co-owns the new business with her husband, Michael.

The Wine Loft will be open every day from 11:30 a.m. to midnight or 1 a.m. Lunch will be avail­able, and tapas-style din­ing and the regular appe­tizer menu will be offered. The menu, which features salads, sandwiches and flatbreads, probably will change quarterly, Kear­ney said.

The bar will have live entertainment, including a pianist, some nights.

The Kearneys plan to have cooking classes once a month with wine pair­ings, including wine tast­ings every Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Taps Bar & Lounge plans to open in late February or March near The Counter burger cafe in Mercato. Taps al­ready has two other loca­tions in Florida.

Taps offers 60 wines by the glass and about 30 beer brands on tap and 350 in bottles, including imports, craft beers and micro­brews. Its lunch-dinner menu features tapas, brus­chetta, salads, sandwiches and desserts.

Nearby, Second Cup also is targeted to open in Febru­ary or March in a smaller, free-standing building on Mercato’s piazza. Although the coffee shop chain has more than 350 locations in Canada, this will be its first in the U.S.

Should you want des­sert with that, Le Macaron French Pastries plans to open in March next door to Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes, which opened its fifth store last summer in Mercato.

Ironically, macaroons — a sweet meringue-based confection made with egg whites, sugar and almond powder with frosting-like filling — have been called the next cupcake. As with cupcakes, the French delicacies come in many colors and flavors.

Le Macaron, a fast-­growing chain, already has seven locations in Florida, including one that opened Nov. 16 in Miromar Outlets in Estero.

NORTH NAPLES

New venues at Mercato are only the beginning of what is happening in North Naples this year.

A new Thai-Japanese restaurant will open in early February in Magno­lia Square, on the north­east corner of Goodlette-Frank and Pine Ridge roads. Thai Udon Café will be operated by Khwanjai Sawai and her husband, Adam Satinsky, principal cellist for the Naples Phil­harmonic Orchestra for more than 15 years.

Not only did Sawai de­sign all the authentic Thai dishes and hot Japanese entrees and salads, but she created the restaurant’s look, as well, Satinsky said.

“I can already tell it’s go­ing to be an amazing visual experience as far as ambi­ence goes,” he said.

Thai Udon Café will open in the former loca­tions for Salvo’s Pizzeria and China Bowl.

The Local, a new local bistro focusing on locally grown and farm-raised products, is planning to open this month in the Bed Bath & Beyond Plaza space vacated by La Bam­ba, which moved across the street last year. The new bistro will focus on healthy techniques and artisanal beverages us­ing ingredients produced within a 100-mile radius, when possible.

Continuing its expan­sion in North Naples, Skil­lets plans to open its fourth area location Jan. 10 in the former North Naples loca­tion of Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro in The Pavilion shopping center, on the northwest corner of Van­derbilt Beach Road and U.S. 41 North. The new location will feature Skillets’ same successful menu, and will be the first to have a coffee bar, serving cappuccinos, lattes and gourmet coffees.

Although it has been six months since it closed its original, 12-year location on Radio Road in East Na­ples, Martin Fierro Steak­house is planning to open a new place at the end of February in Marquesa Plaza on the southeast corner of Livingston and Pine Ridge roads. The Ar­gentine restaurant will be between Moravela’s Pizza and the Comcast office.

Riverchase Plaza on the northeast corner of U.S. 41 North and Immo­kalee Road will have two new eateries splitting the space of its former Block­buster store. Saladworks, one of the nation’s top fast-­casual salad franchises, is planning to open its first restaurant in Southwest Florida before the end of February. Next door will be the new Orange Leaf.

In Granada Shoppes, on the southeast corner of U.S. 41 North and Im­mokalee Road, Chuck E. Cheese's plans to open a huge pizza and entertain­ment venue this year, al­though a specific date has not been released. The Texas-based chain, which has 500 locations nation­wide, offers food, games, rides, prizes and entertain­ment for families.

But what might be talked about more than Chuck E. Cheese’s coming this year is the expansion project on 10 acres next to The Bay House, just off U.S. 41 North and the Coco­hatchee River. Bay House Village, in the permitting stages now, is planned to include an Italian bistro, a boutique hotel, and a small brewery and bakery, as well as an outdoor per­formance area, said owner Peter Tierney.

“It’s not just The Bay House area anymore. There are a lot of options,” he said. “We’re moving forward, and we are kind of excited. It’s going to be a really neat project.”

Tierney is so excited about the plans that he wants to coin a new phrase for the area.

“We’re no longer in North Naples,” he said “It’s Upper Naples, beautiful Upper Naples.”

NAPLES

Osteria Tulia, an Italian restaurant on Fifth Avenue South created by former Campiello Chef Vincenzo Betulia, is set to open this month, most likely Jan. 11, in the former downtown location of Ristorante d’Angeli.

The new kid on the block intends to create the ambience of a rustic chic Italian farmhouse for sampling ancestral reci­pes from the Sicilian-born chef. Look for reclaimed-­pine walls, roof and tables; antique Chicago brick; generations-old antiques and objects; gas lamps and shimmering painted tile.

Also in Naples, Burger King is shooting for Jan. 10 to open its new place in the former longtime location of McDonald’s in the food court at Coastland Center mall. This new franchisee also recently purchased the formerly corporate-operated BK on Immokalee Road in North Naples, as well as another location in Fort Myers.

North on U.S. 41, Caffe Portofino, the artisan Ital­ian bakery that opened last summer in Neapoli­tan Way, is soon tripling its square footage for dining space and an espresso bar. A 2,200-square-foot ad­joining space is expected to be added to the existing 1,100-square-foot store by end of this month or the beginning of February.

EAST NAPLES

Closing last summer on Collier Boulevard after operating nearly 30 years, Erin’s Isle is returning to a new location next week.

Former owner Mike Ward will be back Monday operating a new Erin’s Isle in Hi­biscus Golf Club off Rattle­snake Hammock Road in East Naples. Hibiscus is one of the few public golf courses in the Naples area.

“We saw this as a great opportunity that would benefit both of us,” said Al Cooper, the general man­ager for the golf club, who invited Ward to take over the former Bogey’s Bar & Grill.

At age 65, Ward had considering retiring and even auctioned off all of his restaurant equipment after Erin’s Isle was forced to close in July when the land was sold and Ward’s lease was not renewed.

Expect the same popu­lar menu Ward offered at the original Erin’s Isle.

At Courthouse Shad­ows, the previously men­tioned Buffalo Wild Wings is targeted to open mid-month in another former Blockbuster store where Airport-Pulling Road meets U.S. 41 East. The 6,000-square-foot location will be Collier County’s first for the chicken wing chain.

GOLDEN GATE

Marco’s Pizza is still slat­ed to bring its first location to the area by Jan. 15. The first of at least three area locations will be in Collier Plaza, the same shopping center off Collier Boulevard that has been home to Inca’s Kitchen and the original location of Señor Tequila’s Fine Mexican Grill.

A local franchise of a Toledo, Ohio-based chain, Marco’s will serve wine and bottled and draft beer. In addition to pizza, its menu includes freshly baked sub sandwiches, chicken wings, salads and more.

In Golden Gate Estates, Betty Lou’s Restaurant is targeted to open during the beginning of Febru­ary in the former location of The Kountry Spot bar and grille in Wilson Plaza, the center on the south­east corner of Wilson and Golden Gate boulevards. Owners Betty Lou and Ken Swanson, who have lived in Golden Gate Estates for more than 25 years, plan to open Betty Lou’s serving just breakfast and lunch, but expect to add dinner hours in March. The fam­ily restaurant will feature homestyle food such as country-fried steak and meatloaf, Betty Lou Swan­son said.

MARCO ISLAND

A new breakfast and lunch nook is expected to open this year in The Shops of Olde Marco on Palm Street on Marco Island. The offshoot of Bistro Soleil at the Olde Marco Inn will be called Petit Soleil and will fea­ture Chef Denis Meurgue’s comfort foods served in an intimate atmosphere. Petit Soleil will have traditional breakfast favorites as well as a lunch menu with a va­riety of salads, sandwiches and hot-cooked meals.

BONITA SPRINGS

After an extended delay in opening its new location in Bonita Springs, expect Gatsby’s Pizza to finally open this month on Bonita Beach Road. Gatsby’s is located in the elbow of that L-shaped center fronted by C Level Wine Bar. The pizzeria received its food service permit from the state the day after Christmas, but a recorded telephone mes­sage over the weekend said it would open Jan. 10-14.

Gatsby’s Pizza might be one of three pizzerias opening on Bonita Beach Road this year, although the other two actually would be in North Naples.

Doc’s Pizza House on Bonita Beach Road was put on hold in 2012 with plans to open this November by the folks who have operated Doc’s Beach House for more than 20 years. The former D’s Sports Bar nearby also is being readied for a local pizza shop, but the name or any other information on the new business could not be obtained by press time. This is the place that also was formerly many other eateries, includ­ing Jimbers, the Tiki Bar Café and a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.

After opening its first Collier location in East Naples, the local Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee is looking for its next spot in Bonita Springs, said re­gional manager Andrew Lloyd. Expect it to open before the year is over, al­though a location has not been named yet.

Elsewhere in south Lee County, Pollo Tropical plans to open an outparcel location later this year in Gulf Coast Town Center.

Happy New Year!

RESTAURANT PHOTO GALLERIES:

COMING SOON: Area restaurants opening in 2013

NOW OPEN: New area restaurants in 2012

SORRY, WE'RE CLOSED: Local eateries closing in 2012

___

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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