Two new restaurants with full bars are coming this fall to the Mercato mixed-use lifestyle center, expanding upscale dining options in North Naples.
Waxin’s Restaurang & Bar will feature Swedish and American cuisines and wine in the former space of The Counter Custom Burgers, which closed last May after operating for a decade on the edge of Mercato’s Piazza. Waxin’s launched its only other location three years ago in Palm Beach Gardens.
Old Vines will expand its locally and seasonally sourced American-style cuisine and cocktails to the former space of TooJay’s Deli and Stage Deli, which has been vacant since 2020. The new lunch and dinner restaurant is from the same team behind Old Vines Wine Bar in Maine and Old Vines Supper Club, which launched in February in East Naples.
The addition of Waxin’s and Old Vines to Mercato’s eclectic lineup of more than 20 dining destinations is part of a repositioning strategy aimed at transforming the property into a community-oriented entertainment destination, according to Lauren Ness, a spokesperson for North American Properties, the company that manages and leases Mercato.
NAP’s Atlanta office specializes in value-added, opportunistic investments of underappreciated mixed-use assets, according to a news release. “Applying a hands-on, high-touch approach toward management, NAPA doesn’t build shopping malls or lifestyle centers, it transforms destinations into magnets of social experience,” the company reports.
Mercato owner PGIM Real Estate hired NAP last August to elevate the nearly 15-year-old development and strengthen its regional relevance. A key component of NAP’s vision for accomplishing this goal centers on upgrading the current merchandise lineup, beginning with the addition of Old Vines and Waxin’s.
“When we first took on leasing at Mercato, we recognized an opportunity to further diversify the culinary landscape and bring in new, unrepresented experiences like Old Vines and Waxin’s,” said Morgan Liesenfelt, NAP director of leasing. “As the identity of Mercato starts to shift, we’re excited to see how our loyal fanbase and first-time visitors react. Mercato is already the gem of Florida’s Paradise Coast and will only continue getting better with time.”
Waxin’s Restaurang & Bar, which spells “restaurant” the Swedish way with a G instead of a T, is the first of its kind in the region. The venue will dedicate 40% of its menu to classic Swedish dishes, such as Swedish meatballs. To maintain authenticity, 30-year Swedish restaurant veteran Andrea Cagliesi is moving to Naples to manage the Mercato location, which is targeted to open in about five months at 9110 Strada Place, Suite 6130.
“We are really looking forward to open ASAP but, if it goes as planned, we will open up in late October,” said Patrik Waxin, who co-founded Waxin’s with his wife, Tessie.
Guests familiar with the Waxin’s location on the east coast of Florida will not notice major differences in the appearance and menu at the Naples location, Waxin said. “We have learned some things in the three years we have been open, so some smaller upgrades will be there,” he said.
Design plans for the 3,030-square-foot space are focused on creating a modern and upscale yet approachable environment with a Stockholm-meets-New York City-type feel. Upon completion, the restaurant will boast chic architectural details, such as an indoor/outdoor bar, a landscaped patio, a wine vault and gas lamps, the company reports.
Waxin’s will serve lunch and dinner, as well as offer a dining club for adventurous foodies. In addition to Swedish meatballs, Swedish classics include Beef Rydberg, a tenderloin with caramelized onions, potatoes, horseradish, egg and mustard cream; and Wallenbergare, a double ground veal steak with brown butter, green peas, lingonberries and potato puree. The restaurant features American fare, too, with its full menu of starters, salads, steaks, seafood, pasta and handhelds.
Waxin’s global cuisine has been so well-received that a second location is already underway in West Palm Beach and is targeted to launch this fall around the same time the concept is set to open next to Burntwood Tavern at Mercato.
Old Vines co-owners Rick Taranto, Jon Ellms and Brooke Kravetz are gearing up to introduce their upscale concept to Mercato. Interior buildout has begun for Old Vines at 9105 Strada Place, Suite 3125, across from the Aveda salon.
“Early September is our target right now,” said Kravetz, who will execute the brand’s growth strategy and manage daily business operations of the 3,530-square-foot, full-service restaurant and bar.
Similar to Old Vines Supper Club on Davis Boulevard, Old Vines at Mercato will feature an elegant, casual vibe with rustic design elements highlighted by charcoal and red hues. Expect creative cocktails and inventive cuisine, such as roasted monkfish, potato-crusted red snapper, pork belly, duck breast and short rib. Although it’s similar to the supper club, the Mercato location will feature an ala carte menu rather than a prix-fixe menu.
Plus, it will have a full bar and offer more than five times the seating for dining in or out. “We’ll have a solid 70 or 80 seats outside and 90 inside,” Kravetz said.
“Whether you are joining us for happy hour, dinner and drinks, or a late-night snack, in our plush dining room, lively bar or our shaded outdoor space, you’ll enjoy reimagined classics and imaginative interpretations of Florida-inspired cuisine, always fresh and thoughtfully created from ingredients we source locally whenever possible.”
A wine loyalty program will also be offered for charter members to receive exclusive discounts, preferred access to special events and other VIP benefits. The membership program will include wine lockers, Kravetz said.
In the more than three months until Old Vines opens at Mercato, Kravetz reminds local diners that she still is operating the supper club five days a week at 2795 Davis Blvd. “We are open down here and accepting reservations,” she said.