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Q: Any word if Bonefish Grill will come back to Naples somewhere? —Rae Jean Walker, Naples  

A: After the storm surge from Hurricane Ian wiped out the longtime Bonefish Grill waterfront restaurant at Naples Bay Resort & Marina, the Bloomin’ Brands restaurant group vowed to return the popular seafood brand to the Naples market. 

“We are still monitoring the area for a location,” said Elizabeth Daly, director of media and community relations for Bloomin’ Brands, the Tampa-based restaurant holding company for the national dining concepts of Bonefish Grill, Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. 

Immediately after Hurricane Ian made landfall off the Gulf Coast in September 2022, Bonefish Grill’s parent company had plans to rebuild its Naples location at 1500 Fifth Ave. S., where it had operated since May 2008. Because of rebuilding obstacles and the ending of its lease, the company announced last summer that it was moving on and searching for another local spot. 

“We have enjoyed serving our Naples friends and neighbors the past 15 years and are exploring other options for a restaurant in the Naples community,” Daly said. 

Bonefish Grill representatives have been in discussions to land in a vacant commercial lot fronting Immokalee Road in Founders Square, where Bloomin’ Brands also has an Outback Steakhouse, but the restaurant is not under contract and it’s not a done deal, said Rod Castan, executive vice president and principal at Metro Commercial, a partner in the Founders Square project. “That’s not official yet. It’s very preliminary,” Castan said. 

Founded in St. Petersburg in 2000, Bonefish Grill has more than 160 locations with the nearest operating in Bonita Springs, Cape Coral and south Fort Myers. In recent years, the American casual seafood restaurant and bar added Sunday brunch and catering menus to a lineup that includes its Bang Bang Shrimp signature starter. 

From Bang Bang to Blackbird 

“You were only waiting for this moment to arise.” 

That’s a line from “Blackbird,” the 1968 song from The Beatles’ “White Album” that recently was covered by Beyoncé. The classic song reportedly inspired the name for Blackbird Modern Asian, an upscale restaurant migrating west from Jupiter in Palm Beach County with a second location planned in the former Bonefish Grill spot at Naples Bay Resort.  

A Florida restaurant group, 3 Amigos LLC, comprised of partners Scott Frielich, Angelo Abbenante and Cleve Mash, launched Blackbird in October 2022 with executive chef/partner Tim Nickey. The hospitality team signed a lease April 1 for Bonefish Grill’s former 5,425-square-foot waterfront restaurant space at Naples Bay Resort. The transaction was negotiated by Patrick Fraley of Investment Properties Corp. and Christopher Haass of Cohen Commercial. 

The Naples restaurant space was gutted after Hurricane Ian, so the interior will have to be entirely rebuilt this year. The second Blackbird is expected to land here in the first quarter of 2025. 

“We are looking at about 10-12 months for opening,” Nickey said. 

The Jupiter restaurant features pan-Asian fare in the former location of Shipwreck Bar & Grille and Jupiter Crab Co. Reviews report an elevated dining experience with top-notch food artfully plated in a restaurant with pulsating music and a swanky decor with a 12-foot bronze Buddha sculpture. The critically acclaimed dining spot is frequented by celebrities such as Michael Jordan and Eric Trump. 

Blackbird’s Jupiter menu features some expected Asian comfort food as well as some unexpected offerings with fusion surprises. For instance, dim sum choices include spicy pork wontons and crab Rangoon, but also Mongolian brisket bao buns and lobster wonton cones; small plates include traditional wonton soup, but also duck lettuce wraps; and entrees feature Sichuan smoked pork spareribs, General Tso’s “tikka masala” chicken and smoked brisket burnt ends fried rice. 

The food menu also includes seafood and vegetable sections, an Old School Chinese section and extravagant Emperor’s Selections: Japanese 7 Spice Lobster, Peking Duck and Wagyu Tomahawk, respectively priced at $78, $95 and $185.  

Imaginative desserts, made for sharing, include the Chocolate Bomb with chocolate cake, salted peanut brittle ice cream, caramelized banana, strawberries and dark chocolate sauce; and Yuzu Key Lime, a deconstructed gourmet twist on key lime pie with cinnamon graham cracker crumble, yuzu key lime custard, vanilla bean and white chocolate ganache whipped cream. 

The drink menu includes beer, sake and craft cocktails such as The Blackbird signature dessert drink with Skyy vodka, Amaro Lucano liqueur, chai, cold brew, vanilla cream, activated charcoal and a chocolate fortune cookie. Some of the creative cocktail names—Crazy Rich Asian, Pho King Good and Confucius Says—are worthy of a chuckle or two. 

Estia update 

Q: Love your updates! I seem to remember you mentioning that an upscale Greek restaurant was supposed to be opening in Naples. Haven’t heard anything since. I’m Greek and I’m dying for some delicious, authentic, upscale Greek food. Any idea what happened with this? —Angela Gagauf, Naples 

A: Estia Estiatorio is still targeted to open this year in the former space of Bokamper’s Sports Bar & Grill in North Naples. The upscale Mediterranean and Greek restaurant is now looking to launch this fall in September, October or November, said Estia co-owner Gus Pashalis. 

The interior of the former sports bar was demolished last year to make way for the new restaurant, which fronts Vanderbilt Beach Road at 8990 Fontana Del Sol Way. The exterior signs for the estiatorio—an upmarket Greek restaurant—were recently installed. 

“We have some progress,” Pashalis said. “So far so good. We’re just trying to do it the way we want to do it, so it looks nice and everyone enjoys it. Everything is brand new.” 

The Naples location will be the seventh location for restaurants operated by the Pashalis family in the Northeast. The sixth just opened at the end of December in Philadelphia. 

“We have three different concepts at the moment,” Pashalis said. “We have the traditional Greek, which we’re bringing there [to Naples]; we have contemporary Greek and then we have an Italian concept.” 

Pashalis said he is looking forward to introducing Naples to his fine-dining restaurant, designed to elevate traditional Greek fare beyond a casual affair. 

“We’re going to do something nice there,” he said. “We’re spending a lot of money. We want to make it special.” 

The “Tim Aten Knows” weekly column answers local questions from readers. Email Tim at 

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