Close this search box.

Log in

Top Stories

A new aviation-themed wine lounge is preparing for takeoff this fall in Naples.  

Naples residents Jason James and his wife, Leigh, are the co-owners behind 7J7 Sky Lounge, a local destination being completed at 990 First Ave. N. on the corner of 10th Street North. The stunning modern two-story building in the Naples Design District was formerly home to Design Studio by Raymond.  

With their 7J7 Sky Lounge, the couple plans to share what they know and love: aviation and Oregon wines. Both have 26 years at American Airlines. He is a 787 captain, while she is a flight attendant. They want to do something cool and different celebrating their passion for wine and aviation, building on their Oregon-based JWines aviation-themed wine company. 

“So, my mission in life is to give people aviation decor, bring in Northwest wines and my wines, JWines, with experience you can’t find anywhere else. We’re taking you back to the 1970s vintage aviation era,” James said. “This is a love affair between my wife and I in aviation and Oregon. Everything in the lounge has something to do with our history.”  

Suspended from the lounge’s vaulted ceiling will be an experimental aircraft from 1977. “I bought that airplane because of the color. It’s yellow, a very traditional, vintage color in aviation. Only a few airplanes would fit in that space,” James said.  

At the rear of the large space, part of the bar will feature a hefty 747 jet engine cowling. “That’s going to be the centerpiece of that bar,” James said.  

Members of the lounge’s “flight crew” in vintage uniforms will make rounds with beverage carts, but don’t expect miniature bottles of liquor. Wine will be the beverage of choice, of course.  

The lounge will incorporate a variety of vignettes in separate partitioned, semi-private “destinations,” spaces seating four to 10 guests with nods to classic travel cities, such as London, Paris and New York.  

“We’re going to have unique decor that matches those things. So, I want to take you on a journey without having to get on an airplane,” James said. “So, everywhere you sit is going to be a different experience.”  

A separate private club level on the lounge’s mezzanine will have seven spaces for more intimate experiences in an atmosphere influenced by the posh clubs that airlines host at airports. “That’s why it’s called 7J7 Sky Lounge,” James said. “You become a 7J7 Sky Lounge member, you get the opportunity to go upstairs and sit in a little bit more private spaces, the wine tastings, you get a discount off of purchases and that kind of stuff.”  

Club member benefits include wine storage for six to 12 bottles. “So, different amenities for upstairs and a little bit more on the high end for the club members upstairs and the beautiful staircases that go up to that level. It’s really neat,” James said.  

7J7 is not just a lounge and it’s not really a restaurant or a wine store, but all of those elements will be part of it.  

“Our main focus is wine tastings and introducing South Florida to Northwest wines, primarily Oregon wines,” James said. “So, when you come to our facility, you’re coming to a winery that gives you wine choices from the Northwest, wine tastings with small bites, charcuterie, canapé. So, it’s all wine cuisines. This is all about pairing wines. We’re going to do wine classes on Saturdays for free wine events. We are also going to host other vineyards and wineries from the Northwest.”  

JWines, a custom crush winery, features varietals from the acclaimed Willamette Valley, in Dundee, Oregon, with aerodynamic names such as Flight Cru rosé, Mist Approach pinot noir, Knot Flying syrah and Fixed Wing sparkling rosé.  

“We’re going to have a sous chef and we’ll do some catering as well with a wonderful diverse menu to match the wines,” James said.  

Leigh’s family is from Naples and Florida’s Gulf Coast, so that’s why the couple recently relocated here. “We moved from Oregon last year, officially July 4,” James said. “But I was based in Miami for the last eight years, so I’ve been coming to Miami and Florida for a long time now, and we just decided to make that move last year.”  

When James was young, his family moved from Trinidad to New York City, inspiring his interest in wanting to be a pilot. “I’m that kid, you know, from Trinidad, from a little guy with a big dream to fly airplanes,” he said. “I flew from Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, to JFK New York International Airport in 1969 back in the heyday of that vintage aviation. My first fight was on Pan Am. I was hooked and I wanted to be a pilot ever since.”   

As a child, James lived 2 miles away from JFK airport, where he would walk to the airport and onto planes. “So, while most kids were hanging out in the streets, I’m hanging out at the airport,” he said. “So, I’ve been pursuing aviation since then: military for 13 years, corporate for Coca-Cola for three years, and now with American Airlines for 26 years.”  

Last year, James started building out a smaller unit nearby for 7J7 Sky Lounge before Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate sold many of its downtown Naples properties—including the Forty One Ten Design Park where the lounge is landing—to Aspen-based M Development. M Development approached James about taking the much larger freestanding space on First Avenue North.   

“They approached me and said, ‘We think you’ll be better in the other space,’” James said. “I’m coming from a space of 1,500 to 8,500 [square feet]. The first level is 5,500; the upper level is 2,900 square feet. It’s a beautiful property. The reason I went for it is because of price. They gave me a really good deal. It’s perfect for what I’m trying to do.”  

The striking roofline may be inspired by a semi-circular Quonset hut from the World War II era sliced in half and accented with glass walls to give it a modern architectural design.  

“It really fits my space,” James said. “And all my aviation pieces are all huge, so it’s to scale. It makes more sense. I think it’s perfect for what we’re going to do with it.”  

James’ goal for his new local business is a soft opening right after Thanksgiving or just before Christmas.  

“I think it’s going to be a wonderful addition to Naples’ choices of what you want to do for the evening,” he said. “There are no wineries here in the state of Florida. What we do is bring that winery experience to you, but we use aviation as a wonderful experience with my wife and I as crew members.” 

Copyright 2024 Gulfshore Life Media, LLC All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent.

Don't Miss

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Please note that article corrections should be submitted for grammar or syntax issues.

If you have other concerns about the content of this article, please submit a news tip.