Some dining concepts come to Southwest Florida to live and thrive. Others come here and die.
One that died is making way for one that could thrive.
Ray Masciana, who had owned the rights to Nathan’s Famous, a fast-food hot dog concept, closed and sold the first location in Fort Myers. He also closed and is selling the second location in Cape Coral and is replacing the third, also slated for Cape Coral, with a new concept.
East of Chicago Pizza is planning three new franchise restaurants in Cape Coral, said Mike Williams, vice president of operations of the Ohio-based chain.
All three East of Chicago Pizza locations are confirmed. One of them will be at Pine Island Park, a new shopping center under construction at 1311 Pine Island Road, which originally had been slated to get that third Nathan’s.
The other two will be at 1306 Santa Barbara Boulevard in a new strip mall and 4706 SE 9th Street, an existing structure that had been a pet supply store. All three will open sometime next year.
“Once we get these three, the guy who is doing them wants to do some more,” Williams said. “I’m going to start advertising to find more franchisees.
“Cape Coral is one of the high-growth areas that families are going to. That’s a better customer base for us. Tampa is big for that. Orlando is big. That’s why we tapped into that. The gentleman who is building in the Cape is from up here where our corporate office is. We kept talking about it. I said, let’s quit talking about it, and let’s do it.”
While Masciana has high hopes for East of Chicago working in his new mall, he had to give up on Nathan’s.
Nathan’s Famous will be no more in Southwest Florida, other than the packs of hot dogs sold at area grocery stores. “It wasn’t well received,” Masciana said. “I just think the concept didn’t work here. We couldn’t get past that.”
Masciana established the first Nathan’s in Fort Myers off U.S. 41 near Page Field in March 2016. The restaurant closed last year and is now a Señor Taco. He sold that shopping plaza to a North Palm Beach-based developer in July for $3.34 million. He had bought the property for $450,000 in December 2014.
Masciana built and opened a second Nathan’s Famous location in August 2018 at 1897 Del Prado Blvd. in Cape Coral. The free-standing, 3,000-square-foot space has a drive-thru and recently shut its doors. That one is on the market.
Pine Island Park is under construction and should be completed midway through 2022.