2020's lost restaurants: A look back at 43 closures from Naples to Fort Myers

Take a look back at 43 of the restaurants that closed in 2020 from Naples to Fort Myers.

Annabelle Tometich
Naples Daily News

2020 wasn't an easy year for restaurants.

Not that many years are. 

The pandemic's impact on the hospitality industry was brutal, as it was on so much else. Florida's restaurants were, in a way, lucky. Gov. Ron DeSantis's decision to reopen dining rooms in May spared many from permanent closure, as did the governor's choice to allow restaurants to remain open, even as the virus has continued to rage. 

In places such as New York City, which saw a new round of indoor-dining closures in mid-December, the number of permanently shuttered restaurants is estimated to be close to 1,000. In Southwest Florida, that number is in the dozens, rather than the hundreds.

Each closure still hurts. 

FROM JLB:The 20 best dishes I ate in 2020 from Naples to Fort Myers

AND:Best of 2020: 14 SWFL restaurants earn Golden Spoon Awards

In the wild year that was, it's hard to say precisely why any single restaurant closed. Those that shuttered after March 20, the day the state banned sit-down dining to slow the spread of COVID-19, would have seen the pandemic play at least some role. 

Here's a look at the restaurants we lost in 2020. If you know of a closure we missed, please email atometich@news-press.com.

Naples' closed restaurants

3 Pepper Burrito Co.: The Cape Coral-born fast-casual chain closed its location at 1514 Immokalee Road, No. 116, Naples. 3 Pepper has nine restaurants in operation from Estero to Sarasota. Visit 3pepperburrito.com.

Agave: The Mexican-inspired grill closed in early May at 2380 Vanderbilt Beach Road. It opened in September 2011. The building is set to become The Butcher, a high-end steakhouse from the owners of Sails Restaurant on Fifth Avenue South. 

MORE:Naples restaurant owners to open The Butcher in former Agave space

Cafe Luna: Tucked into the Ramada Naples at 1100 Tamiami Trail North, Cafe Luna closed March 20 after nine months in operation. 

Citrus Seafood: The restaurant closed in late March at 455 Fifth Ave. S., Naples. Citrus had been a mainstay on the busy street for more than a decade. It specialized in locally caught Gulf seafood featured in its fish cakes, grouper tacos, ceviche, shrimp and grits, and more. 

Delicious Raw: The chain closed three of its area locations, two in Naples and one in Estero. Delicious Raw remains open at 821 Fifth Ave. S., Naples. It also has stores in South Beach, Davie and Miami. Find more at delraw.com

Del's 24 Hour Store has closed after 55 years serving East Naples.

Del's 24: After 55 years serving East Naples almost nonstop, Del's closed in August, about a year after the death of owner Del Ackerman. Collier County has been moving to buy the 1.84-acre property as part of its Bayshore Gateway Triangle Community Redevelopment.

More:Collier moves forward with purchase of Del's 24-Hour Food Store in East Naples

Naples Flatbread Kitchen & Bar: The final Naples location for this one-time local chain closed in late June at Mercato in North Naples. The lone remaining Naples Flatbread is at Miromar Outlets in Estero. Visit naplesflatbread.com for more. 

Old Naples All American Sports Bar & Grill: The restaurant at 590 Tamiami Trail N. closed over the summer and has been replaced by Liki Tiki BBQ

Pei Wei Asian Kitchen: The fast-casual chain closed its two Collier restaurants on Vanderbilt Beach Road and Collier Boulevard. The area's only remaining Pei Wei is at 16441 Corporate Commerce Way, across from Gulf Coast Town Center in San Carlos Park. More at peiwei.com

Rib City: The Fort Myers-born barbecue chain closed its restaurant in East Naples after more than 20 years in operation at 3871 Tamiami Trail E. According to ribcity.com the restaurant still has more than a dozen locations open in Collier and Lee counties. 

Sweet Tomatoes: The buffet chain known for its endless soup and salad bar shuttered all of its 97 restaurants nationwide in early May, including locations in south Fort Myers and Naples. The Sweet Tomatoes in south Fort Myers opened in 1997. The North Naples location opened in spring 2010. 

TooJay’s Deli has closed at Mercato in North Naples.

TooJay's Deli: The Mercato location closed in September after the chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. TooJay's has several restaurant still open throughout Florida. Visit toojays.com

Zoes Kitchen: The fast-casual Mediterranean chain has closed its locations at 22941 Lyden Drive, No. 110, Estero and 9108 Strada Place No. 14110 at Mercato in North Naples. The only remaining Zoes in Southwest Florida is in the Whole Foods plaza at 6881 Daniels Parkway No. 100, south Fort Myers. Visit zoeskitchen.com for more. 

Fort Myers-area closed restaurants

Applebee's: The location on U.S. 41 at the intersection of Cypress Lake Drive in south Fort Myers closed in late April. The California-based chain did not respond to requests for comment. The Applebee's on Dani Drive in Fort Myers, as well as in North Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Naples remain open. Find more at applebees.com

BurgerQue closed in late December in Fort Myers.

BurgerQue: The award-winning local burger and barbecue restaurant, known for its drive-thru and beer garden, closed in late December following the death of owner Tim Mankin. Rumors have swirled that BurgerQue may reopen. No one from the restaurant has responded to requests for comment sent through social media, however, and on Jan. 4 BurgerQue's phone line was not in service. 

MORE:BurgerQue owner, two others die in Texas crash; restaurant to close

AND:It's time to '86' 2020: JLB looks back at a wild year in food

Aurelio's Pizza: The chain's location at Gulf Coast Town Center closed in late March. "We would like to thank the Fort Myers community for their support over the past several years. At this time however, we have decided to close our doors," a March 25 Facebook post said. "Please visit our neighboring location in Naples, Florida for any pick-up orders." The Town Center Aurelio's opened in late 2008 according to The News-Press archives. Its Naples store is in Coastland Center mall. Call 239-403-8882 or visit aureliospizza.com for more. 

The Golden Fork Cafe: The diner closed Aug. 2 after almost six years at 3086 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers. "Our desire was to create 'that neighborhood eatery.' Where families could unite over morning breakfast, or maybe lunch while conducting business," owners Meredith and Ben Alicku wrote in an Aug. 1 Facebook post. Golden Fork was known for its scratch-made breakfast skillets, pancakes and baked goods, as well as its salads and high-piled sandwiches. "We have been part of your ups and downs," the post continued. "We wish you nothing but the very best as we all move forward."

Leopardi's Italian Restaurant has closed in south Fort Myers.

Leopardi's Italian Restaurant: After 18 months in business in the castle-like building at 13851 S. Tamiami Trail, Leopardi's closed in mid-March. A restaurant spokesperson declined to comment at the time of its closure. Leopardi's opened in November 2018 in the 11,000-square-foot space that first belonged to Dwyer's. The space has housed several concepts — Icabod's, Balleyorney, Tilted Kilt, Belushi's, Leopardi's — in recent years. 

Naples Coastal Kitchen: The Gulf Coast Town Center location for this Naples-based restaurant closed in October. Coastal Kitchen's original location remains open at 13500 Tamiami Trail N. No. 1, Naples. Visit naplescoastalkitchen.com for more.

Rise and Grind Cafe: Owned by the Basile family, which also owns the neighboring Saucy Meatball restaurant, Rise and Grind closed in early 2020 shortly after its debut in October 2019. 

Rusty's Raw Bar: The local chain's location in the Island Park neighborhood of south Fort Myers has closed. Rusty's remaining restaurants are on Daniels Parkway in south Fort Myers, as well as in Naples, Cape Coral and Estero. Visit rustysraw.com for more. 

Sidecar Treats: The popcorn and ice cream shop announced the closure of if its store at 1512 Hendry St., downtown Fort Myers May 1 on Facebook. "We made a difficult decision to walk away. ... There are no funds to be had, to keep us open — believe me, we tried," the post read. "We want to thank the Fort Myers community for you(r) loyal support." The Sidecar Treats in Cape Coral remains open. Visit sidecartreatscc.com for more. 

ALSO:Cape couple's new popcorn business is bursting with 'wild' flavors

The Southland Taproom has closed in south Fort Myers.

The Southland Taproom: Closed in early August at 16230 Summerlin Road No. 210, south Fort Myers. Owner Tommy Johnson cited "unfair restrictions on the craft beer industry" and diminished consumer confidence for his decision to shut down. "Put them together and it makes the business model I built impossible now," Johnson said via text. Southland opened in November 2018 selling a curated selection of craft beers from microbreweries around Florida and the southeastern U.S. "We look forward to seeing you at our local breweries and venues," Johnson wrote in an Aug. 4 Instagram post, "as we will continue to support our craft beer scene, as should you."

Square 1: The Tampa-born chain known for its burgers and cocktails closed in early July at Page Field Commons in Fort Myers. "With the current conditions due to the pandemic the business is no longer viable," a July 6 message to employees said. The local store was one of Square 1's last locations. Only one remains, in The Villages in Central Florida. Find more at square1burgers.com. Recently, a sign has gone up showing The Standard Restaurant, which has called downtown Fort Myers home since 2015, as the new tenant for the Page Field Commons space. 

Sweet Tomatoes: The soup-and-salad buffet chain shuttered all of its 97 restaurants nationwide in early May, including locations in south Fort Myers and Naples. The Sweet Tomatoes in south Fort Myers opened in 1997. The North Naples location opened in spring 2010. 

Tijuana Flats: The location at 8001 Dani Drive off Six Mile Cypress Parkway in Fort Myers has closed, as has the store in Gulf Coast Town Center. The website shows stores in south Fort Myers, Estero and Naples as open. Visit tijuanaflats.com for more. 

Cape Coral, Sanibel and Pine Island closed restaurants

Backyard Beer Garden: BBG, which opened in October 2018, closed over the summer at 1339 Cape Coral Parkway E. The restaurant's renowned Philly cheesesteaks are now available through the Double Dee's Munchies food truck, according to Backyard's Facebook page. Find more on Double Dee's at facebook.com/doubledeesmunchies

Big Blue Brewing has closed in Cape Coral. Big Storm Brewing has taken over the space.

Big Blue Brewing: The 4-year-old south Cape brewpub closed in late August. "We started this year so strong," said owner JoAnn Elardo, who also owns Wicked Dolphin Rum Distillery in the north Cape. "It was an absolutely phenomenal season we were having. And then March just, boom, hit us like a hammer." Her decision to close the brewery and focus on the distillery followed the deaths of her sister, mother and brother in-law, as well as Big Blue employee Melissa West who was fatally stabbed in her home in June. Big Storm Brewing has taken over the space, opening in late October. Find more on Wicked Dolphin at wickeddolphinrum.com. For more on the new Big Storm location, visit bigstormbrewery.com

FROM AUGUST:Big Blue Brewing closing, new brewery to take its place

Blu Agave: The south Cape Mexican restaurant closed in late September after almost four years on Cape Coral Parkway East. Blu Agave opened in November 2017. 

Il Tesoro: The Italian restaurant at 751 Tarpon Bay Road, Sanibel, closed over the summer according to opentable.com. 

Perkins: The restaurant at 1502 Cape Coral Parkway appears to have closed in early May. Its sign has been painted black and the location is no longer listed on the chain's website. The Perkins at 1551 Del Prado Blvd. remains open. Visit perkinsrestaurants.com for more. 

Redfish Point: The south Cape restaurant closed temporarily in mid-July to allow space for the pop-up concept, Jungle Bird Tiki. Jungle Bird was supposed to operate for three months but proved so popular, it became the space's permanent tenant. Find Jungle Bird Tiki at 1520 Lafayette St., Cape Coral; call 239-471-4111 or visit junglebirdtiki.com for more. 

Ruby Tuesday: The locations at 2514 Santa Barbara Blvd. and 1851 NE Pine Island Road closed in late March along with about 100 other of the chain's restaurants, according to reports from readers and thelayoff.com. The area's only remaining Ruby Tuesday is at 9001 Park Royal Drive near HealthPark Medical Center in south Fort Myers. A location in Estero also closed in late March. Visit rubytuesday.com for more. 

Sweety's German Bakery has closed in Cape Coral.

Sweety's German Bakery: The north Cape bakery closed in late spring due to the pandemic. Sweety's owners still own Hart & Soul Cafe at 1722 Del Prado Blvd. S., Cape Coral. Visit facebook.com/hartnsoulcafe for more. 

Woody's Waterside: After closing over the summer, the St. James City restaurant was purchased by Phelan Family Properties, a corporation owned by the same Phelan family behind the locally born Pinchers and Deep Lagoon Seafood restaurants. Woody's website says it is "reopening soon," as does a Sept. 23 post on Woody's Facebook page. The Phelans purchased the property Sept. 22, according to Lee County records, for $2.565 million. Visit woodyswaterside.com for more. 

Bonita Springs and Estero closed restaurants

Applebee's: The California-based chain's location on Corkscrew Road in Estero, west of Interstate 75, was closed as of late April. The restaurant did not respond to requests for comment. The Applebee's on Dani Drive in Fort Myers and in North Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Naples remain open. Find more at applebees.com

Duck Donuts: The chain's location at Coconut Point in Estero closed Oct. 26. "Today is the last day of business," spokesperson Kristin Kellum said that Sunday. "The store is closing due to underperformance and the struggle to recover following the initial impact of COVID-19." The Estero doughnut shop opened in January 2018. The Duck Donuts locations in south Fort Myers and Naples remain open. Visit duckdonuts.com for more. 

MORE:Duck Donuts closing at Coconut Point

Duck Donuts has closed at Coconut Point in Estero.

Hurricane Grill & Wings: The Coconut Point location of this national chain announced its closure in late July via its Facebook page. "We closed today and wish all of you well," the statement read in part. "We sincerely hope that all of the good will and friendships made at our restaurant will be everlasting." Hurricane's website shows the Cape Coral and Naples locations as open; hurricanewings.com

Metro Diner: The restaurant at 3250 Bonita Beach Road SW has closed. The Jacksonville-based chain, which once had multiple Lee and Collier locations, now has just one remaining locally at 1625 Cape Coral Parkway E., Cape Coral. Visit metrodiner.com for more. 

Perkins: The location at 27940 Crown Lake Blvd. closed in early May. Located at the corner of U.S. 41 and Bonita Beach Road, the building has been a Perkins for more than two decades. Perkins has 31 locations remaining in Florida, according to its website, including stores in south Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Estero, Lehigh Acres, North Fort Myers and two in Naples. Visit perkinsrestaurants.com for more. 

Ruby Tuesday: The location at 21301 Town Commons Drive, Estero, closed in late March along with about 100 other of the chain's restaurants, according to reports from thelayoff.com. The area's only remaining Ruby Tuesday is at 9001 Park Royal Drive near HealthPark Medical Center in south Fort Myers. Two locations in Cape Coral also closed in late March. Visit rubytuesday.com for more. 

Zoes Kitchen: The fast-casual Mediterranean chain has closed its locations at 22941 Lyden Drive No. 110, Estero and 9108 Strada Place No. 14110 at Mercato in Naples. The only remaining Zoes in Southwest Florida is in the Whole Foods plaza at 6881 Daniels Parkway, No. 100, south Fort Myers. Visit zoeskitchen.com for more. 

The area's first Zoes Kitchen is slated to open in Estero later this month.

East Lee and LaBelle closed restaurants

The Eatery & Drinkery: The Lehigh Acres restaurant, which opened in November 2019, announced its closure July 6 on Facebook. "We are sad to inform you we were not able to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and have closed our doors permanently," the post reads. "We want to thank everyone for their support. It was truly appreciated." 

Annabelle Tometich writes about food and restaurants for The News-Press and Naples Daily News. Connect with this reporter: atometich@news-press.com and @abellewrites (Instagram).