'February After Five': Chop 239 in the Esplanade hosts Chamber event

Chamber president Jacquie Koon, right, with Debra and Dick Shanahan, and CJ's 'Chef Laura' Owen. Chop 239 in the Esplanade hosted the chamber's 'After 5' gathering Wednesday evening. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

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Chamber president Jacquie Koon, right, with Debra and Dick Shanahan, and CJ's "Chef Laura" Owen. Chop 239 in the Esplanade hosted the chamber's 'After 5' gathering Wednesday evening. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— Each month, the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce holds an “After Five” get-together, a chance for chamber members, supporters and the curious to meet, mingle and socialize in a different, pleasant location, with a buffet provided and adult beverages available.

The After Five events also give host businesses the chance to introduce their services to Marco’s business leaders. Wednesday evening, Chop 239 put their “best food forward” and sponsored an After Five.

Located in the Esplanade Shoppes along the waterfront, splitting the distance between CJ’s on the Bay and Mango’s, Chops 239 is the dining establishment formerly known as Tara’s. Owners Marco and Deanna Porto were involved with the restaurant when it was Tara’s, and essentially had a seamless transition this past October to the new identity.

“We had our soft opening Oct. 28,” said Marco Porto. “Since we’ve been here this long, we’re not doing a ribbon cutting or grand opening tonight.” Nevertheless, the evening marked the initial visit to his eatery for many of the group crowded into the bar at Chop 239, attacking the buffet with gusto and creating a noteworthy din of conversation.

“I can’t believe the size of the shrimp,” Kevin Brown said after loading his plate. “They should have their own zip code. This is the first time I’ve been here, and the food is great.”

Seafood and steaks are the signature dishes at Chop 239, said Porto, with local fish such as snapper and grouper featured along with a tank of live lobster. Hors d’oeuvres provided Wednesday also included stuffed clams, along with spanakopita and bruschetta.

New chamber president Jacquie Koon came across the courtyard from CJ’s with husband Curt, who put in his own plug for their friendly rivals.

“Jacquie and I eat here all the time,” said Curt. “They’re good people.”

The next big event in the Chamber’s datebook is the Business Expo, which will be held March 6 in the Marco Island Marriott ballroom.

To have your own first experience at Chop 239, visit the Esplanade, call 239-394-0212 or go online to www.chop239.com.

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