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araya naples 1

Araya Sushi Asian Grill in North Naples is permanently closing the day before Thanksgiving after operating for more than nine years.  

Araya opened in October 2014 in the former Dunkin’ Donuts space next to CiCi’s Pizza in Uptown Center, just east of Sam’s Club on Immokalee Road in North Naples. It was the second restaurant for residents Jon and On Augsondthung.  

Araya, pronounced ar-A-yah, is the first name of Jon Augsondthung’s mother and means “beautiful lady” in Thailand, the couple’s home country. Araya’s extensive menu features Thai dishes, sushi and some Vietnamese entrees.  

“Our 10-year lease is almost up and we have decided not to renew it,” the Augsondthungs posted Wednesday night in a social media note to followers. “This was a very sad decision for us because we loved serving the Naples community. We would like to thank everyone kindly for supporting us throughout the years.  

“Thank you for the many years of happiness. It’s with a heavy heart that we announce that we will be closing the doors to Araya. Our last day will be on Wednesday, Nov. 23. We couldn’t be more grateful and proud of our time with everyone. Thank you so much.”  

The Augsondthungs own three other restaurants in the North Naples area that they will continue to operate. Fuji Sushi Bar & Asian Bistro and Yoko-San Ramen operate side by side on Naples Boulevard. A second Fuji opened in April in The Pointe at Founders Square on the southeast corner of Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard. 

Red Lobster  

The only Red Lobster in Collier County closed Nov. 11 after operating for decades at 2355 Tamiami Trail N. in Naples.  

“The decision to close a restaurant is never easy, and this time was no exception,” emailed Nicole Bott, senior director of Red Lobster’s corporate communications. “Our first priority is to ensure our team members and managers are treated with the utmost respect. Because Red Lobster recognizes the value of our people, all managers and team members from our Naples, Florida, restaurant have been given the opportunity to transfer to another area Red Lobster.”  

The nearest location for Red Lobster is more than 30 miles away at 3801 Cleveland Ave. in Fort Myers.  

Red Lobster was founded in 1968 by Florida restaurateur Bill Darden as a single, family-owned seafood restaurant in Lakeland, and grew into an Orlando-based casual dining chain with more than 700 locations worldwide. Darden Restaurants group owned the chain until July 2014.   

Since the early ‘90s, Red Lobster has been best known for its famous Cheddar Bay Biscuits. 

More closings 

Other recently closed local restaurants in the Naples area include Bobby Yanks Burgers in North Naples and 485 Degrees in East Naples.  

The team at 485 Degrees eatery threw in the towel after its short run was marred by the pandemic, rising inflation and Hurricane Ian. The local restaurant permanently closed Oct. 25 after operating since early 2019 in the Pelican Larry’s Plaza on Davis Boulevard in East Naples. “We have had the greatest laughs, amazing friendships were developed and we look forward to serving you again one day,” the restaurant posted on social media. 

After operating The Sizzle Truck for four years with favorites such as chicken souvlaki and shrimp po’ boys, Anthony Badalamenti and Zackary “Chef Z” Ziakas expanded upon their popular, blazing blue food truck with the small brick-and-mortar location, 485 Degrees, named after the smoke point for clarified butter.  

“Working on some things. Will let you know when I land,” Chef Z messaged last weekend.  

Meanwhile, restaurateur Peter Karey also is working to find a new location for his short-lived Bobby Yanks Burgers. Karey shuttered his local burger joint in mid-September after operating since the summer of 2021 on Health Park Boulevard near the NCH North Naples hospital campus. The breaking point came when the construction of a bank branch on an outparcel lot all but blocked the view of his eatery from Immokalee Road. “The bank was the beginning and then we had a huge disagreement with the landlord,” said Karey. He is hoping to be able to open another location in the Naples area. 

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