After many months of anticipation, Food & Thought 2 organic restaurant launched today on Airport-Pulling Road in North Naples.
The distant relative of Food & Thought organic general store, which has operated since 2005 in Naples, moved into a longtime restaurant spot in Fountain Park that previously was Founders Bistro, The Original Pancake House and the original Calistoga Bakery Cafe. The new restaurant, owned by Alfie Oakes of Oakes Farms, Anthony High of Marjon Specialty Foods and Randy Johns of Phoenix Associates of Florida, will be accompanied by an adjacent all-organic market targeted to open in late summer or early fall. The restaurant and market are each about 7,000 square feet.
“We are incredibly happy with what we created there at the restaurant. It’s really something different,” Oakes said. “The food is white-tablecloth quality, high-end preparations made from scratch. There’s so much thought that goes into every dish and so much quality.”
General Manager and Executive Chef Dan Kniola, who most recently was executive chef at Players Club & Spa in Lely Resort, leads a culinary team that includes five individuals who have worked as executive chefs at other area restaurants or country clubs. “We have just this incredible amount of talent,” Oakes said.
Although named Food & Thought 2 and serving all-organic food, the new full-service restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner is different than the original location at U.S. 41 and Golden Gate Parkway, said Oakes, who owns the original Food & Thought. “All of our stores are different brothers and sisters. They have the same DNA but they have different personalities,” he said. “The market will be very similar to Food & Thought. It will have some of the same characteristics. The restaurant is next level.”
A full bar with its own pizza oven at the new restaurant is also a notable difference from the original location. “We have an amazing bar there stocked with organic liquor,” Oakes said.
Naples-based Oakes Organic Farm will provide organic produce for featured menu items. Dinner entrees include filet mignon, sea scallops, strip steak, Gulf grouper, pork loin and meatloaf. The lunch menu has sandwiches and entrees such as salmon cakes, turkey meatballs and chicken enchiladas. A variety of soups and salads also are available for lunch and dinner. Appetizers include pork ribs, bacon-wrapped shrimp, grouper bites and stuffed mushrooms. Small plates and Neapolitan-style pizzas made with a four-day fermented dough complete the bar menu.
The breakfast menu, created by former Meridian Café Executive Chef Raena Major, features unique griddle items such as Banana Bread French Toast, vanilla egg-battered banana bread topped with peanut butter mousse and applewood bacon with a drizzle of maple syrup; and seasonal sprouted buttermilk pancakes with fresh strawberries, lemon curd and toasted pistachios. Gluten-free dessert options feature chocolate avocado mousse, chocolate lava cake, banana bread and apple fritters.
Outdoor seating and a place for live entertainment will fill a large courtyard between the new restaurant and the future market. Some of the items from the restaurant will be available at the retail market, which will have a juice and coffee bar. “You can come over here and have a cup of outstanding soup, then go over to the market and buy a quart of it to take home with you,” Kniola said.
Originally planned to launch last fall, the local restaurant project faced construction delays because of supply chain issues and required numerous job fairs to hire its nearly 120 staff members. “It finally came together,” Kniola said.
The kitchen of the Food & Thought 2 restaurant, 7941 Airport-Pulling Road, is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and the bar is open until 10 p.m.