Q: What is happening at the old Tropical Palm restaurant on Neapolitan Way? Someone has been working in there.
Also, what has happened to the Perkins in Park Shore that closed and the former Island Pub that has closed? You mentioned a while ago that someone was interested in the old Perkins. Thanks for the update!
— Anne, Naples
A: Mr. Big Fish — a seafood restaurant, of course — plans to open during the last week in January in the former spot of Tropical Palm Café, which permanently closed last summer in Neapolitan Way in Naples.
The new local restaurant will be owned by Steve Karakosta and family. The Karakostas have been associated with restaurants in this community for more than 30 years, responsible for the creation of Mel's Diner, Big Al's Sports Grill and Stevie Tomato's, which is named after Steve Karakosta, the third generation in a family of local restaurateurs and the grandson of the franchise's founder.
"I learned a lot from my father and grandfather. You have to have the passion for it," Karakosta said.
Mr. Big Fish will feature simple, home-made, fresh fish such as snapper and grouper, oysters, stone crabs in season, and pasta, salads and desserts for lunch and dinner, he said. Karakosta said he plans to add a full liquor license soon to the initial beer-and-wine lineup at the casual restaurant.
"We're very excited about it," he said. "We did a huge renovation there. We pretty much gutted the place."
Meanwhile, a deal for the former Perkins Family Restaurant & Bakery in Park Shore Plaza has yet to be reached, so that space is still available, said David Stevens, a principal with Naples-based Investment Properties Corp. That Perkins permanently closed last February after a more than a 25-year run.
As for The Island Pub, the former restaurant in the Park Shore Resort is still for sale, said Jennifer Schooley of Naples Realty Services. The local pub closed at the end of April after operating for many years.
EVEN FRESHER BOILED PEANUTS
Last week's column opened up a can of … boiled peanuts. Actually, they are fresh, not canned. Here are additional area places to obtain this simply Southern snack.
Del's 24 Hour Food Store on the corner of Thomasson and Bayshore drives in East Naples sells regular and Cajun fresh boiled peanuts, said Del Ackerman, who has operated the around-the-clock corner store for 49 years.
"They are nice and warm when you buy them," Ackerman said.
The nuts are available in 12-ounce, 16-ounce and 32-ounce cups for $1.75, $2.50 and $4.50, respectively.
Ackerman recommends washing down the spicy goobers with Two if By Tea. Del's is the sole area retailer for Rush Limbaugh's flavored iced teas, available in unsweet, original sweet, peach, blueberry and raspberry, as well as diet versions of each.
"Some people love him, some people hate him," Ackerman said of Limbaugh. "The ones who hate him like his tea better than they like him. I sold 500 cases already."
Swamp Nuts, now owned by Wendy and Daniel Ohleyer of Golden Gate Estates, are sold in a booth at the main entrance of Flamingo Flea Market on Bonita Beach Road in Bonita Springs. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The peanuts are sold in small, medium and large cups for $1, $3 and $5.
The Ohleyers also will be selling their wares at the Collier County Fair in March, and at local swamp buggy races, including the one set for the end of January, Wendy Ohleyer said.
Subway shops inside E's Country Store locations in Golden Gate Estates also have Cajun-spiced fresh boiled peanuts for sale. The stores are located at 21 Golden Gate E. Blvd. on the corner of Wilson Boulevard, and at 14344 Immokalee Road on the corner of Oil Well Road.
Photo by ROGER LALONDE // Buy this photo
MORE LOCAL RESTAURANT NEWS
■ Erin's Isle has been busy day and night since it opened Jan. 7 in Hibiscus Golf Club off Rattlesnake Hammock Road in East Naples, said Mike Ward, who operated the original Irish pub on Collier Boulevard for nearly 30 years until a land sale forced its closure last summer.
"I've been working 12 to 16 hours all my life, so to shut down was problematic for everybody," Ward said.
The chef is making an effort to offer the same, tried-and-true menu, but he said he is limited because the kitchen is limited. He plans to update it when season is over so that he has more burner space for sautéed dishes.
"I need a high-powered kitchen, you know," Ward said.
Erin's Isle has entertainment every night and is open beyond the hours of the public golf course. The restaurant's hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, it opens at 8 a.m. for its breakfast buffet and closes at 6 p.m.
"That's the famous breakfast buffet that's been going at Erin's Isle forever," Ward said.
Speaking of forever, returning are many of the Erin's Isle employees who have been with Ward for 10 to 12 years, one more than 29 years.
"They were very loyal for many, many years," he said.
■ Skillets opened Saturday in the Pavilion shopping center on the northwest corner of U.S. 41 and Vanderbilt Beach Road. It's the fourth area location for the breakfast-lunch franchise that opened its first restaurant in North Naples more than 15 years ago. Diners have already discovered the new place, which is hoped to become the breakfast spot for Pelican Bay residents, said owner Ross Edlund.
"Overall, we are very pleased," he said. "We think it's going to be a terrific location for us."
This is the first Skillets to have a cappuccino coffee bar and the third to recently add outdoor dining. The patio is already popular at the new Skillets, which opened in the former space of Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro after it relocated to Fifth Avenue South.
All Skillets locations are open 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day.
■ Ballyorney Irish Pub closed earlier this month after operating since May 2011 at 13851 U.S. 41 S., a few blocks south of Bell Tower Shops in south Fort Myers. This "castle" also is the former home of Ichabod's Wicked Good Food & Drink and Dwyer's Pub.
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"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.