When Caitlin Emery-Schewe and her husband Brandon decided to open a restaurant in Bonita Springs just a quarter-mile from their café, Caitlin wanted it to be a dramatic contrast to the white contemporary exterior.
The young couple, who’ve operated Downtown Coffee and Wine Co. in Bonita Springs since 2019, opened The Bohemian on March 4 at the northeast corner of Old 41 and Bonita Beach roads. It’s among several businesses and eateries at Entrada, the 1960s-era First National Bank of Bonita Springs that developer Steve Hovland transformed into a gateway to the downtown corridor.
“I love blue-greens and wanted to do something jewel-toned, so I wanted people to walk in from this white, ultramodern building and for it to be like a little, hidden gem,” Emery-Schewe says, adding that she and her mother, Jeanne, operate the design company Reimagined Interior Design, and furnished the restaurant with consignment and thrift items. “I commissioned one piece, and everything else my mother and I found.”
She and her husband, the chef, used café profits for the new venture. “It was fun because it was our own,” she says. “It was tough because we didn’t have the budget. It was a hunt.”
Jeanne Emery, who spent more than 20 years as a designer, and her daughter, who earned a degree in interior design, wanted to dazzle customers with color.
“The drama of the teal-blue walls elicits a pulling-in effect on those who enter, and invites them to stay and absorb whatever this energy is,” says Emery, a hostess at the restaurant. “A nod to the past—Elsie de Wolfe, leopard-print carpets and trellised walls—is included in this eclectic design.”
The restaurant, which serves beer, wine and Lillet-based cocktails, plus a small plates menu, spans 3,400 square feet, with a 15-seat bar area, 42 seats for dining and 40 more seats in the 2,000-square-foot patio.
The mother and daughter scouted local consignment shops—Chesterdales Home & Garden, Consign & Design, Collective Consignment, Gannon’s Antiques and Art, Habitat for Humanity Restore and Salvation Army, as well as Mimi’s Café liquidation auction—to put together an assortment of furniture and decorations. Emery-Schewe chose Benjamin Moore’s Jade Garden as the main color, using satin and eggshell finishes for contrast, and other blue-greens.
The dining area features black booths, chairs and a round booth from Mimi’s Café, which was reupholstered in a dark animal print by Seattle’s Custom Upholstery. Warehouse-style black ceilings accentuate the jewel tones and Silks Plus plants, while grasscloth and Schumacher wallpaper also add texture.
“We put blue crown molding up because we wanted people’s eyes to stop,” Emery-Schewe says of the 10-foot demarcation before the black ceiling two feet above. “We wanted to add character with molding, board and batten and trellis work.”
The Schewes hired McHarris Planning & Design to ensure it was up to code and Idyll Construction as the builder, both based in Naples. Sous chef Austin Graham, family and friends helped with design and textured woodwork. And Joe McCarthy of JWMcC’s Custom Wood Products carved the intricate, laser-cut woodwork that allows an open view.
“I wanted to support people who support us,” Emery-Schewe says of using café customers to decorate.
An open kitchen allows customers to watch food preparation. “Customers often thank them and clap as they go by,” she says.
A mix of lighting, including a large white string globe and a gold-tube chandelier, came from Naples Lamp Shop and Wilson’s Lighting in Bonita Springs. Emery-Schewe chose metal-dipped bulbs to soften the glow. “The ambiance is candles and good lighting,” she explains. “At night, it’s magical.”
Most art features Florida birds or nudes, including a vintage Robb & Stucky painting and works by Kristy Gammill and Muffin Ray. The largest chunk of the budget went to Superior Seating and Hill’s Barstools & Lighting, where the Schewes found swivel barstools in mismatched colors and Seattle’s reupholstered them in orange velvet to add contrast to the black bar and pink side table.
The Bohemian Boho Bar, in the bank’s drive-thru, features original concrete floors and a commissioned painting by Gammill: a striking woman with blue hair and hoop earrings that’s unlike her usual work. It’s surrounded by mirrors that reflect the bar and outdoors, where sail canopies provide shade for the marble Mimi’s café tables and black wicker seating. Outside, lush plants from Old 41 Market & Garden Center and Buddhas from Pottery Is Art dot the patio.
What’s next for the eclectic restaurant? The couple hopes to get a liquor license and is planning a rooftop herb and vegetable garden tended by local farmers that will provide garnishes and vegetables for entrees.