Founders Bistro relaunches with new menu and management in North Naples

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A bit of the past merges with the present at The Founders Bistro in North Naples. Chef Tony and Kathy Newtonthe couple best known for operating the former Fred’s Diner, have been busy the last two months since they were tapped by The Founders’ owners to step in to relaunch the restaurant with a new menu and management team. 

The Founders Bistro, originally opened Feb. 21 as a farm-to-table restaurantclosed Aug. 9 after the idealistic sheen of its debut was dulled by the grim realities of the pandemic. Following a private friends-and-family day on Friday, the full-service restaurant and bar go public Saturday, Sept. 26Signs also went up this week for the restaurant’s companion business The Founders Market  which is targeted to open in about two months in an identical building on the other side of an expansive courtyard fronting Airport-Pulling Road just south of Vanderbilt Beach Road in the Fountain Park retail center. 

The restaurant’s new menu is designed to be more approachable, especially for families. We made our menu comfortable, simple, what everybody knows. Everything is fresh. Nothing is frozen,” Kathy Newton says. “We are just trying to keep it simple, reasonable. We know everybody’s trying to get back on their feet. 

A few new menu items, such as the bacon-wrapped dates appetizer, the wedge salad and the honey almond salmon entrée with parmesan risotto, were popular at Fred’s Diner – later renamed Fred’s Food, Fun & Spirits  which the Newtons operated for more than eight years in North Naples. Since Fred’s closed in 2016, Tony Newton was chef at Sandalwood Village in North Naples and Snook Inn on Marco Island. Before Fred’s, he had been the chef at The Turtle Club and Audubon Country Club in North Naples. 

The Founders’ choice of a dozen entrees on its new menu range from rigatoni Bolognese ($18) and beef stroganoff ($21) to New England rack of lamb ($35) and Founders Delmonico ($45). In between that range are items such as truffled Maine lobster ravioli, Key West shrimp scampi, filet mignon, half roasted chicken and black grouper en papillote. 

Specialty and build-your-own pizzas ($14-$18) retain a place on the menu. Sandwiches and burgers ($14-$18) are listed as “Lite Fare.” About 10 selections of appetizers ($13-$17) include ahi tuna poke, fire-roasted wings and lollipop lamb chops. Soups ($9) and salads ($12-$16) also are available. 

Live entertainment is scheduled and pets are welcomed on the courtyard. Face masks and COVID-19 sanitation precautions are in effect. 

The Founders Bistro, 7941 Airport-Pulling Road, is open 3 p.m. to midnight daily, except closed Sundays. For more information call 239-653-9353. 

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