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NAPLES — One of the original restaurants in Waterside Shops closed this week after operating for 22 years.
The last area location for Silver Spoon Cafe closed Sunday in the open-air mall at U.S. 41 and Seagate Drive in Naples.
Early-bird diners were surprised Monday to see flyers taped on the doors of the local restaurant notifying patrons that the location had closed, apologizing for the inconvenience, and thanking them for their continued patronage.
Elsie Cardillo and her son, Craig, 28-year residents of Naples, had been regular diners of the Silver Spoon since it opened decades ago. When they arrived just before 5 p.m. Monday to meet her brother and sister-in-law for dinner, they were disappointed to find a shuttered business.
“We loved the food there,” Elsie Cardillo said. “I never had a bad meal there.”
Their favorite entrees were the baby back ribs, chicken pasta pie and oriental salad.
Fortunately, the Cardillo family had the chance Saturday night to use a $100 gift certificate for Silver Spoon received last Christmas. That’s when they were told by an employee that Monday would be the cafe’s last night, so they made plans to enjoy their last supper there.
Of course, Sunday turned out to be Silver Spoon’s final day of operation instead.
A trio of seasonal residents from St. Louis didn’t have advance warning. They were surprised to discover a closed eatery.
“I had lunch there twice last week and no one said anything to me,” said Peggy Johnson, who arrived Monday planning to dine at Waterside Shops with her cousin, James Upchurch, and his wife, Doris, all part-time Naples residents.
“The ribs were real good,” Mr. Upchurch said.
Just after 5 p.m., mall personnel replaced signs in racks stating the restaurant was temporarily closed with “coming soon” notices announcing that “another retailer joins our world class line up of stores.”
When asked if another retailer was contracted to take the restaurant’s space, mall directors referred questions to corporate offices. A spokeswoman for The Forbes Co., owner of the mall, said Tuesday that a contract for a new retailer for that space has not been signed yet.
“We have a number of retailers that we are taking into consideration right now,” said Michelle Jacobs, a spokeswoman for The Forbes Co.
Calls made to Silver Spoon Cafe owner and president James CarMichael also were not returned. CarMichael said his Tennessee-based company would consider other area opportunities, but not in the near future, when the Silver Spoon location in Bonita Springs closed seven months ago in the Promenade at Bonita Bay after more than an 11-year run.
The small casual dining chain, Specialty Restaurant Group LLC, has only two locations left. Both are in Tennessee, one each in Knoxville and at Maryville College. At one time, the company had more than 35 restaurants, which included Silver Spoon Cafe, the American Café and L&N Seafood Grill brands purchased from Ruby Tuesday.
The Silver Spoon locations at Waterside Shops and Bonita Bay were the company’s last Florida restaurants. Another Naples location closed in late 2006 in the Gateway of Naples shopping center, where Panera Bread is located today. A Fort Myers location later closed at Edison Mall.