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A fifth chain plans to operate a restaurant on an outparcel at the Coastland Center mall in Naples. A coming soon sign for Bahama Breeze Island Grille recently was placed northwest of the new CMX CinèBistro, which opened its luxury dine-in cinema last fall just outside the mall’s entrance on the footprint of the former Sears department store demolished in 2019. 

Bahama Breeze, a casual dining chain with a colorful Caribbean-inspired atmosphere, menu and cocktails, is a brand for Orlando-based Darden Restaurants Inc., which also operates Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Yard House and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen. Darden owns more than 1,800 restaurants in the United States, including more than 40 locations of Bahama Breeze. The nearest location has operated for decades at 14701 S. Tamiami Trail in south Fort Myers, more than 25 miles north of the location proposed to open next year in Naples.  

“The target opening date is October of 2023,” said Rodney Cattoor, brand design manager for Darden Restaurants. “We are at the infancy stage in the process and permitting.” 

The total space of the new Bahama Breeze, including its outdoor patio area, is planned to be 10,390 square feet at 2088 Ninth St. N. on a grassy lot fronting Golden Gate Parkway on Coastland Center property, according to plans recently filed with the city of Naples. The mall’s owner, Chicago-based Brookfield Properties, refers to the lot as future building area 3. 

This project’s site plan is undergoing review by the city. Because the project is located within a planned development, Planning Advisory Board review and Naples City Council approval will be required. Outdoor dining also must be approved by City Council through a separate application. The architectural plans show a stage in the outdoor dining area. If live entertainment is planned for the business, City Council approval is required through a live entertainment application. 

The restaurant project is on the agenda for preliminary design review at this Wednesday’s meeting of the Naples Design Review BoardCity Council approval of the pending site plan is required prior to submittal for a final design review. DRB approval of the project’s plans is required prior to the issuance of a building permit and construction must comply with the plans approved by the DRB before a certificate of occupancy is granted. 

“We are cautiously optimistic regarding the meeting this week and look forward to becoming a part of the Naples community,” Darden’s Cattoor said. 

DP3 Architects will present its architectural plans Wednesday for the restaurant’s preliminary design review. The South Carolina firm designed the Bahama Breeze prototype that opened last May in North Charleston, South Carolina. Bright interior colors and artwork complement large tropical fans and lighting fixtures, and the restaurant’s outdoor patio is equipped with an oversized fireplace. 

The design incorporates vibrant materials, finishes and unique character that create a tropical island atmosphere,” DP3 Architects reports on its website. “The space truly captures the essence and energy of the Caribbean.” 

Exterior renderings for the Naples location show a more sophisticated look that significantly downplays the corporate restaurant’s usual signage and casual beachside appearance. The proposed landscaping also reflects a more upscale treatment. The landscape design uses trees, palms, shrubs and ground cover around all sides of the building. 

“We’ve toned it down quite a bit from our prototype,” said Darden’s Cattoor, noting that the brand’s typically vibrant exterior colors will be muted pastels in Naples. 

The Design Review Board will determine if the architectural plans represent corporate architecture. “Overall, the site plan, lighting and landscaping are fitting for a restaurant with outdoor dining on this site, and the proposed colors are pastel shades, however, the colors and design features of the structure, including the attached gazebo-like element, could represent corporate architecture which is discouraged per the Design Review Handbook,” according to a city report by Senior Planner Margaret Perry.

The project’s rear elevation facing Golden Gate Parkway depicts a long, blank wall with landscaping, city planners note. “The architect should consider windows or other structural elements along this elevation to avoid a blank wall facing a major thoroughfare,” according to the staff report. 

Meanwhile, Uncle Julio’s Mexican restaurant is rapidly taking shape with vertical construction on the western edge of the mall property, just north of the Cheesecake Factory, which has operated as a highly visible mall outparcel along U.S. 41 since early 2005. The freestanding Mexican restaurant and bar is targeted to open as early as this summer, although it is experiencing supply chain delays for interior fixtures.  

Twin Peaks restaurant and bar is targeted to open near the end of the year adjacent to the parking garage near Golden Gate Parkway on the northern edge of the mall and on the other side of CMX CinèBistroA sixth outparcel restaurant space near the food court on the south side of the mall also is being marketed for availability.  

Outside of the mall’s fast-casual food court, the only separate, sit-down restaurants inside the mall are Aurelio’s Pizza and Vourla Mediterranean Cafe & Grill. Since opening in 1976, the mall’s interior has seen many sit-down restaurants come and go, including Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Ted’s Montana Grill, Calistoga Bakery Cafe, Kona Grill, Pate’s House of Prime Rib, Ruby Tuesday, Morrison’s Cafeteria and Vivi Ristorante. 

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