A second location for the Naples-based Aqua restaurant and lounge is planned for the former space of Perkins Restaurant & Bakery in Bonita Springs. The space has been vacant since May 2020. The Perkins chain permanently closed that corporate-run location after operating it for nearly 25 years on the northeast corner of U.S. 41 and Bonita Beach Road.
Gordon and Nancy Stojkoski, who co-own Aqua Seafood & Steaks in downtown Naples as well as the Liki Tiki BBQ venues in Fort Myers Beach and Naples, bought the more than 1-acre property at 27940 Crown Lake Blvd. on April 25 for $3,089,500, Lee County Property Appraiser records show. Perkins Restaurants initially purchased the property in August 1994 for $580,000, records show.
“I bought the property so I’m committed,” said Mr. Stojkoski, a more than 30-year veteran of the restaurant and nightclub business in Florida, New Jersey and Ohio. “So far, everybody that we’ve spoken to in the city has been very welcoming. So, that’s nice.”
Over the summer, observers on the busy corner have noticed the Stojkoskis replaced the restaurant’s longtime shingled roof with a new copper top on the nearly 5,000-square-foot freestanding building. Patio pavers have also been added around the trees and the area on the south side of the building immediately to the east of the main entrance.
“Those windows on that side are going to be like an accordion. They’re going to open sideways. So, those windows are going to be replaced so that you can open all those windows and that’s where the bar’s going to be,” Stojkoski said. “Once the patio and pavers are done, we’re going to landscape and then have the parking lot resealed and striped and then a lot of outdoor lights on all of those trees.”
Plans call for launching the new local venue next month. “We’re looking at the end of October,” he said. “It all depends on permitting. Workwise, we’re pretty much done with what we need to do.”
The 225-seat venue will have two bars, including an indoor-outdoor bar. “We have an outdoor patio for 100 people. Where the patio is that’s going to be an indoor-outdoor bar,” Stojkoski said.
The owners of Tacos & Tequila Cantina, which originally were interested in opening a fifth location of their Tex-Mex concept at the old Perkins property, received a special zoning exemption from the city last summer for outdoor consumption of alcohol at the site, so that was already in place for Aqua.
The existing octagon-shaped rotunda on the northwest corner of the building will be a private wine room. “So, we’re setting that up with like a 4,000-bottle wine room in there. That’s going to be really cool with big glass doors to go in there,” he said. “There’s another dining room for like 50 people that could be private, if need be.”
A small stage for live entertainment will be just inside the entrance. “We’re catering more to piano players. That’s going to be our big thing,” he said.
Although the exterior doesn’t resemble the downtown Naples location, some comparisons can be made between the Aqua venues. “It’s a similar menu and extended happy hour. We’re really well known for our happy hour on Fifth Avenue. Nobody has 4 to 7 (p.m.) seven days a week, so we’re going to mirror that and the dinner, also,” Stojkoski said. “We’re also mirroring the entertainment. It just seems like the entertainment’s been working for us really well seven days a week.”
The new Aqua, which specializes in steaks and Mediterranean-style seafood, will be open for lunch, happy hour, dinner and late-night dining with entertainment every day. Because the new location has a larger kitchen, Stojkoski said a larger menu with more steak options is planned.
“Our number one seller is the whole fish tableside,” he said. “Either the daily fish, which is usually a yellowtail snapper, or a branzino or a Dover sole. Those are our three staples and that’s all tableside. That’s what we’re known for foodwise is the whole fish, raw bar, oysters, clams, crabs, but the whole fish is our biggest seller.”
The Stojkoski family launched Aqua in November 2011 on Fifth Avenue South in Naples. Early last year, they expanded into an adjacent retail space with Aqua Lounge, an ultra-chic venue with a 30-foot bar. They launched Old Naples All American Sports Bar & Grill in the fall of 2015 on the corner of U.S. 41 and Sixth Avenue North to interrupt a string of Chicago-based pizzerias. About five years later, they switched things up and converted the sports bar to Liki Tiki BBQ, a casual concept the Stojkoskis have operated on Fort Myers Beach since December 2018.