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Changes are coming soon to a string of businesses on the southeast corner of U.S. 41 and Central Avenue in Naples. 

Most notably, the former longtime spaces for Starbucks coffee shop and Valento’s Pizza & Hoagies are being consolidated for Unidos, a new 5,625-square-foot Latin restaurant targeted to open in January. Restaurateur Salvador Munoz plans Unidos, Spanish for United, in a building owned by One South Main LLC, operated by Stuart Rothman, the president of First Cambridge Realty Corp., based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

Until closing in January 2021 because of accessibility and parking issuesStarbucks operated as an anchor of that corner retail strip for nearly 20 years. Until recently closingValento’s served its thin, Midwestern-style pizza for more than a decade at a location next to Starbucks that formerly was a Quiznos sub shop.  

The building’s owner and new restaurant tenant are planning aesthetic changes and minor modifications to refresh the look of the structure. The rust-colored metal architectural element that wraps around the top of the building will be painted gray, the stone facing will be lime-washed to its natural off-white color and metal window frames will be painted black. “Basically, we are looking to whitewash and clean up the whole façade,” said architect Brian Leaders with Naples-based BDL Design.

The requested stone and metal façade color changes are compatible with neighboring structures within the D-Downtown zoning district and improve the appearance of the building, said City Planner Patty A. Kulak in a Design Review Board report. The petitioner is requesting the removal of a hedge along Central Avenue and using a new planter box with multiple greenery such as blue salvia and pentas to shield proposed outdoor dining, Kulak said. “The changes to the landscaping with planter boxes replacing an existing henge will enhance the streetscape along Central Avenue,” she said. 

Pavers will be added for an outdoor dining area and a small beverage bar will be added just inside the main entrance of the new restaurant, Leaders said. The outdoor dining element of the proposed restaurant will require City Council review and approval. 

The entire building will be altered to match the new gray signboard, whitewashed stone and black-framed windows. Other tenants in the building south of Unidos include Shoreline Cabinets, Alterations by Angie and A.R. Insurance Agency. 

More changes are planned to a couple of other restaurant spaces immediately south of the longtime European Bakery & Café, which continues to operate in that highly visible lineup fronting the eastern edge of Ninth Street. Easy Cheesy, a local food truck known for its house-made pasta, recently signed a lease for its first brick-and-mortar location in the former Tropic Chill Deli, which permanently closed last November after a nearly 25-year run. “Hopefully we’ll be open late fall or beginning of winter,” Easy Cheesy messaged over the weekend.

Siam Thai & Sushi, which operated for two decades next to Tropic Chill at 81 Ninth St. S., permanently closed in early June after the building sold at the end of last year for $7.25 million. A new restaurant has not been signed yet for that space. “It’s definitely going to be another restaurant. We have a half dozen we are talking to right now,” said Kova Commercial Group’s Bryan Flores, the listing agent for that property. 

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