Restaurants: New El Nido in Estero, two Naples closings, fashionable brunch, tea time, more

Diana Biederman
Naples Daily News

This week, we're heading to Estero for a sneak peek at an exciting new concept from South Fork Grille's owners. 

We also visit a traditional Mother's Day treat at a dedicated tea room in Naples which is never open on Sunday, the official holiday. Seeking extended weekend plans with mom? Consider a fashionable brunch where proceeds benefit a local charity. 

Speaking of charitable dining, one Old Naples restaurant hosted a celebrity-studded event boasting singers everyone knows, all for Southwest Florida's veterans.

We also say goodbye to two restaurants, though for one it's not a final farewell.

Mexican-Latin fare at Estero's El Nido

El Nido opens May 9 at Coconut Point Shopping Center in Estero.

Executive Chef Pedro Diaz is top toque; his resumé includes appearances on Food Network’s "Chopped" and a title-winning stint on "Cutthroat Kitchen."

Diaz's eclectic menu combines Latin American cuisine with classic Mexican fare. Top-shelf tequilas and single-origin Latin American coffees are also on the menu. 

Executive Chef Pedro Diaz is El Nido's top toque. His eclectic menu combines Latin American cuisine with classic Mexican fare.

Local restaurateurs Joe and Donna Sofia co-own and operate El Nido; they also own South Fork Grille in the Center.   

When calling Donna Sofia, we interrupted her during a pre-opening tasting of the restaurant's arepas made by one of the line cooks hailing from Venezuela, which she raved about. “We’re a scratch kitchen; we use fresh, local ingredients, house-made sauces and recipes you won’t find anywhere else.”

El Nido will be open daily from 11 a.m. to close, serving lunch, dinner, an early-bird menu, and weekend brunch. The expansive space includes indoor and outdoor bars, seating for 220 guests and a private room seating up to 50. 

(23161 Village Shops Way, Estero; 239-319-1900;

More:Estero restaurants: South Fork Grille, a Coconut Point original, expands and diverges

And:Hello from JLB: Fort Myers shines on Food Network (eh, sort of)

El Nido opens May 9 at Coconut Point Shopping Center in Estero.

Tea time traditions

When my mom was alive, I always enjoyed Mother’s Day high tea. Feeling like Eloise at The Plaza's Palm Court, it was an opportunity to dress up for elegant mid-afternoon indulgences and one-to-one conversation. While Brambles English Tea Room is always closed on Sundays, its special “Mum’s Celebration Tea” is available May 6, 7 and 9.

(340 Fifth Ave. S., Naples; 239-262-7894;

Tea, sandwiches and pastries are among the offerings at Brambles English Tea Room in Naples.

A fashionable, charitable brunch 

Southwest Florida-based fashion house Turk & Turk is partnering with Hotel Escalante for a pre-Mother’s Day brunch at Verande-E with a fashion show to follow May 7. 

Ten percent of the show's sales benefit Pace Center for Girls Collier at Immokalee chapter, which serves at-risk girls ages 12-18. 

“I believe in supporting our community. I have two daughters and know how important it is for us to give them a good future,” said designer Ilkay Turk in a news release.

“I feel Pace is doing amazing things with all the girls who need support and guidance to become strong women.” 

Turk and Turk's post-brunch runway show sales benefit Pace Center for Girls/Collier at Immokalee chapter.

Brunch starts at 11:30 a.m.; the runway show is at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $135. 

(290 Fifth Ave. S., Naples; 239-659-3466;

More:Inspections: Six Naples restaurants ace reports; one temporarily shuttered

Twisted sisters transformation

Twisted Cheesery, opened in East Naples on Oct. 4, 2021, closed its 2795 Davis Blvd. location. The casual eatery's innovative offerings will soon be available at sister restaurant Twisted Sheep Pizza and Brew. 

“We noticed we were doing more take-out business instead of guests dining in. With food and labor prices skyrocketing, it didn’t make sense to keep running the actual physical unit,” Chef-Partner Michael Voorhis said. 

“We’re going to revamp Twisted Sheep’s kitchen and plan on running DoorDash, Uber Eats and delivery from there so we can continue the Cheesery’s food.”

Co-owner Calvin Joiner is Voorhis's partner in both ventures. 

(Twisted Sheep is at 3802 Tamiami Trail E., Naples; 239-919-3287;

Related:Restaurant news: Twisted Cheesery, Clean Juice open in Naples

Beach Box Cafe signs off

Beach Box Cafe at 9020 Gulf Shore Drive in North Naples shut down April 30.

When the development project One Naples was announced, Autumn Rodgers, a partner for the bar and restaurant, told the Daily News she owns her building on the land where the project is planned and hadn't agreed to leave.

"We are not closing," she said May 18, 2017. "They told me it will be at least three to five years until we go anywhere."

That five-year mark arrives in two weeks.  

Southwest Florida:Once-controversial One Naples quietly comes together, with construction to start late next year

Martini glass auction bids adieu

The Celebrity Martini Glass Auction (CMGA) held its final event April 9 with dinner at Sea Salt in Naples and desserts by Norman Love.

CMGA's founder Brenda Melton has raised nearly $5 million auctioning artist-designed martini glasses for local veteran causes over the past 10 years including Gulf Coast Veterans and FriendsNaples Take a Soldier Fishing and Wounded Warriors of Collier County.

The star-studded crowd included CMGA benefactor Tony Orlando, who sang his signature “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree”; Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Deniece Williams performed “Let’s Hear It for the Boy”; Rock and Roll Hall of Famer/Moody Blues singer-songwriter John Lodge; and American Idol season 12 contestant/top 10 finisher Lazaro Arbos who grew up in Naples.

Tony Orlando performed his signature hit "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" at Sea Salt, benefiting Celebrity Martini Glass Auction.

“I founded CMGA more than a decade ago, initially to raise funds for the Naples International Film Festival," Melton said.

A few years earlier, Melton asked her friends to design a martini glass as a toast to Cosmopolitan cocktails made famous by “Sex and the City."

Inspired by their creativity, she later outreached Sarah Jessica Parker's agent, asking if the films’ stars would sign glasses for a "Sex and the City 2" debut party.

Her idea for CMGA kicked in when auctioning the SATC-signed glasses to raise money for the NIFF, netting $15,000 for the organization. 

When NIFF premiered "Honor Flight" and "Comedy Warriors" in 2012, viewing both movies "changed everything" for Melton, a long-time Naples resident. 

She subsequently elected to distribute funds from future auctions in honor of the "patriotism, service and sacrifice of our veterans. Our freedom isn't free."

Diana Biederman is the food and restaurant writer at Naples Daily News. Send your scoop for consideration to