Noodles Italian Cafe & Sushi Bar, which operated for more than three decades in North Naples off Pine Ridge Road, transitioned to Giuseppe and the Lion and will continue serving Italian cuisine and sushi. New owner Joseph Sutherland and his father-in-law, Leo Hertzog, purchased the property from the previous owners in September and since have been working on renovating the space, all without having to close their dining room for a single day.
Sutherland had a successful career as an executive in the eyecare industry for 25 years. When the desire to be closer to family brought him to Southwest Florida, he joined forces with Hertzog, who he discussed opening a business with for decades. “We really wanted to get back together as a family,” Hertzog said. “This came up, we looked at it and we both liked it.”
Family continues to be at the forefront of the restaurant concept Sutherland and Hertzog created. Sutherland’ s grandmother called him Giuseppe, and the Lion is a reference to Hertzog’s first name, Leo, and his Chinese Zodiac.“When I was here cleaning up the place, I had people coming in asking for Chinese to-go [orders]. It was an identity crisis,” Sutherland said. “Is it Asian? Is it Italian? Nobody knew what it was. So, I think our name, while we don’t talk about the Asian part enough, Giuseppe shouts that it’s an Italian restaurant now.”
The same chef from Noodles now works at Giuseppe and the Lion, so customers will experience a similar flavor along with some additions. Sushi remains on the menu, while new items include shrimp and scallop risotto and the Lion salad, which is described as a spin-off of Philly Milan salad. General Manager Alexandra Sutherland, Joseph’s daughter, said it is one of many specialty items that her family would make at weekly dinners.
“We’ve added a lot of things to the menu that are sentimental to our family that we would have every Sunday,” Alexandra Sutherland said.
What was once a sushi bar at Noodles has been replaced by a stage for live entertainment, with all of the booths now facing the stage. Joseph Sutherland said to expect national acts to perform, including the group Orleans and John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band.
“When we inherited [the restaurant], they had some entertainment, and the entertainment was a DJ box in the middle of the floor with acts playing in front of it, and it just seemed out of place for us,” Joseph Sutherland said.
Alexandra Sutherland is excited for people to learn more about the restaurant’s transition and the opportunity to share the family’s background. “My favorite part is interacting with a lot of the customers who come in and haven’t been here before, so I get to explain to them our story and everything that we’re passionate about,” she said.
Giuseppe and the Lion, 1585 Pine Ridge Road, Suite 5, is open 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 4 to 9:30 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays and 4 to 11 p.m. Fridays.