Lead Photo: Roots Restaurant at Bell Tower Shops introduces an opulent space that seats about 20 for special functions.
Dining out is a pleasure in ample supply in our area, and for those interested in mixing business with it, options abound. Southwest Florida affords many upscale opportunities for private dining in intimate spaces that will smartly impress clients or staff with classy offsite business meetings.
Shula’s Steak House, which has operated for two decades at Hilton Naples, was chosen by Gulfshore Business readers this year as the best place for a business lunch, and one of the best spots for private dining rooms and networking. The premier dining destination has two exclusive spaces popular for business gatherings, said Jeff Jerome, Shula’s director of marketing and sales.
The Wine Room is a private dining space that can seat up to 14 guests at a large, white-linen-covered table and leather chairs below a chandelier that illuminates an extensive wine collection. The special room, well-suited to employee or client appreciation dinners, comes equipped with Wi-Fi and a huge flat-screen plasma HDTV monitor with VGA connections for laptop-based presentations.
The Coach’s Room, a tribute to the legendary Don Shula and his undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, sports multimedia capabilities that can be reserved for a business meeting or conference, client appreciation event, office birthday party, holiday gathering or any special occasion. This room, decorated with iconic photos of Shula and the Dolphins, can seat up to 30 in a variety of configurations, and includes different menu options.
Shula’s also hosts many events outside by the spa terrace, Jerome said, and the venue has a partnership with Naples Transportation, which can take care of driving needs. “So, they can just sit back and have a great time,” Jerome says.
The Veranda offers historic charm in two turn-of-the-century homes in the heart of downtown Fort Myers. A local tradition for more than 40 years, The Veranda features Southern regional cuisine, an extensive wine list and first-class service. Select lunch and dinner menus can be designed for groups of 12 or more guests.
In addition to dreamy settings of a piano bar and garden courtyard, the first-rate venue features intimate dining rooms that can be reserved for larger groups, said Micki Carlson-Funk, The Veranda’s private party coordinator. “We have those private rooms upstairs that are really quite amazing,” Carlson-Funk says.
The Younger Room can host up to 40 guests, while the Twin Room can accommodate up to 20. Menu selections depend on the size of the party. “We personalize it pretty much for each,” Carlson-Funk says.
Angelina’s Ristorante in Bonita Springs raises the bar for luxury with four unique rooms for business dinners in elegant yet comfortable surroundings. The local restaurant has had as few as four people renting its private rooms or up to 50 people, said Manager Nick Kattman. “We can accommodate different size groups of people and guarantee privacy and the best food and service in town,” he says.
All private rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment tastefully concealed behind professional artwork. The Private Dining Room, affectionately called the PDR, is the most intimate of Angelina’s options. Tastefully designed, this room offers all the luxury of Angelina’s with a much more subdued profile.
“The most often used [room] is the PDR that can accommodate a group up to 16 at one table,” Kattman says. “The Garden Room is beautiful, too. That probably is one of our other most popular ones.” The Garden Room offers a luxurious, semi-casual environment in muted tones reminiscent of a Tuscan countryside. The Fountain Room is a bright and airy space with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that open to an outdoor patio and fountain. The Red Room features rich upholstery and ornate decorations. “If you really want to impress your group, you won’t find a more beautiful room in all of Southwest Florida,” Angelina’s website promises.
In Naples, the extensively remodeled Bellasera Resort recently transformed two spaces to create snazzy, British-inspired settings for private get-togethers on the second floor of the boutique condo hotel. The Churchill Room, a tribute to inspirational British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, offers a cozy dining room for private parties up to 24 people. The London Club, a posh live entertainment venue, is a larger space that also can be rented for private affairs—it has a capacity of about 60 for sit-down dinners or meetings, or 80 for cocktail receptions.
Two options for dinner menus are available from The Claw Bar restaurant and bar on the resort’s first floor. “We also have an extensive hors d’oeuvres menu. So, if someone wanted to have a meeting with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, that could be done, as well,” says John Robertson, corporate general manager.
Sails Restaurant at Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South in downtown Naples also has a small room with floor-to-ceiling bottles of wine. The wine room seats up to 12 and may be reserved for free for a minimum of 10 guests for multi-course pairings, said Veljko Pavicevic, the restaurant’s manager and co-founder. “It’s booked up. Everyone wants the wine room. On some weekend nights it’s even seated twice,” Pavicevic says The local restaurant also can accommodate up to 40 guests for a seated luncheon or dinner, and 85 for a standing reception of passed hors d’oeuvres and beverage selections.
The new Roots Restaurant at Bell Tower Shops in south Fort Myers also introduces an opulent space that seats about 20 for private functions. The Gatsby Suite is a stylishly appointed room with high ceilings, gold and black wallpaper and blue velvet seating, said Rafael Feliciano of Food Idea Group. “It’s got a lot going on,” he says.