Gulfshore Business Daily: June 8

Lead Photo: Rendering of Our Lady of Mercy Parish Life Center. Details below.

 

FIRST FOUNDATION ACQUIRING NAPLES-BASED FIRST FLORIDA INTEGRITY BANK

The acquisition of Napes-based First Florida Integrity Bank and TGR Financial Inc. will allow Dallas-based First Foundation Bank to expand into Southwest Florida. First Florida Integrity Bank, a subsidiary of TGR Financial founded in 2009, is the largest independent bank headquartered in Naples with $2.3 billion in total assets and seven branch locations. TGR will merge into First Foundation in an all-stock transaction valued at about $295 million, or $15.23 per TGR Financial share, according to a definitive merger agreement announced June 3. Unanimously approved by the board of directors of each company, the transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2021. First Foundation’s strategic expansion into Florida supports its initiative to grow in attractive markets with positive demographic trends and business-friendly environments. 

 

GRANDSTAND DEMOLITION BEGINS AT NAPLES-FORT MYERS GREYHOUND TRACK IN BONITA SPRINGS

Demolition began last week on the 250,000-square-foot grandstand at the former Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track in Bonita Springs. The dog track closed May 3, 2020, after operating for more than 60 years. Demolishing the multi-story grandstand by Honc Industries is expected to take a couple of months, said Izzy Havernick, whose Miami family has owned the 100-acre property for more than four decades. While specific future plans for the vacant commercial acreage have not been announced, the Havernicks launched the new Bonita Springs Poker Room with The Brass Tap last year on the corner of Race Track Road and Bonita Beach Road. 

 

Aroma Indian Cuisine

AROMA INDIAN CUISINE RESTAURANT LAUNCHES NEAR COLLIER-LEE LINE IN NORTH NAPLES

Aroma Indian Cuisine launched Monday in North Naples. The new Indian restaurant is between the Pewter Mug and O’mei in Tamiami Square, the U.S. 41 retail center just south of the Collier-Lee county line. Aroma owner Vishnu “Vinny” Pratap Thalappil renovated the space of the former Tako Boba Tea & Sushi Cafe, which closed at the end of February after operating there since August 2019. Aroma’s menu features mostly southern Indian cuisine with the most popular items being dishes such as chicken tandoori, chicken tikka masala, lamb curry and varieties of naan bread, said Thalappil, a resident of Cape Coral who also operates Flavors of India in Port Charlotte. “It’s a healthy option. We have a lot of vegan items on the menu,” he said. In a couple of weeks, Aroma will introduce a buffet, which Thalappil said is a good way for diners to sample various menu items. Aroma, 14700 Tamiami Trail N., Suite 10, is open 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 to 9 p.m. every day except Tuesdays, when it is closed. Call 239-596-0509 for restaurant reservations or 239-785-8022 for catering. 

 

Tyler McClosky, left, and Daniel Kearns, the owners of The Lake House Kitchen & Bar, coming next month to Babcock Ranch in Charlotte County.

LAKE HOUSE KITCHEN & BAR OPENING IN JULY AT BABCOCK RANCH

The Lake House Kitchen & Bar is targeted to open in July in the Founder’s Square social hub at Babcock Ranch in Charlotte County. The new restaurant and bar are replacing Table & Tap, which closed on April 25 after operating for four years. “We’re currently in the process of renovating it to make it a brand-new dining experience,” says Tyler McClosky, an insurance executive and local investor who teamed up with Daniel Kearns of Kearns Restaurant Group, which will operate the new local restaurant. The Lake House will feature a craft bar and a menu of modern American cuisine prepared fresh in a scratch kitchen for lunch and dinner every day. The venue will have more than 150 seats, a beer garden and an open-air patio with live entertainment. A job fair for all positions will be held 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Sunday at The Lake House, 42860 Crescent Loop, Punta Gorda. 

 

LITTLE HICKORY ISLAND PARK TO CLOSE TEMPORARILY FOR BOARDWALK MAINTENANCE

Little Hickory Island Park, also known as Bonita Beach Access 10, will close Monday, June 21, for boardwalk maintenance. The park, 26082 Hickory Blvd., is expected to reopen by Monday, June 28, weather permitting. The parking lot, restrooms and showers will not be accessible until the park reopens. Lee County Parks & Recreation has posted signs to alert park patrons of the upcoming closure. Alternate parking is available at no cost at Bonita Beach Access 2 through Access 9. Fees are $2 per hour at Access 1 or Bonita Beach Park. For more information about Lee County Parks & Recreation locations and amenities, call 239-533-7275 or click here

 

AAA: FLORIDA DRIVERS MIGHT SEE HIGHER GAS PRICES THIS WEEK

Florida gas prices face upward pressure this week after optimism about rising global fuel demand sent crude oil prices to multi-year highs, AAA reports. The price of crude rose 5% last week. The price for U.S. crude (WTI) settled at $69.62 per barrel on Friday, the highest daily settlement since October 2018. Gasoline futures also increased 3%. Fuel prices are rising as optimism grows over the reopening of economies around the globe and how that will promote stronger fuel demand, AAA says, adding that market watchers are concerned that fuel supplies will not be able to keep pace. Over the weekend, Florida gas prices averaged $2.85 per gallon. The state average is nearly 2 cents less than a week ago, and 3 cents less than this time last month. Pump prices remain 6 cents less than the highest price — so far this year — of $2.91 per gallon, recorded in late March. Punta Gorda is currently among the least expensive metro markets for gas in Florida, at $2.75 per gallon.

 

REIS REAL ESTATE SYMPOSIUM SET FOR SEPTEMBER

The Real Estate Investment Society (REIS) will present the annual Real Estate Symposium with Lutgert College of Business in September at Florida Gulf Coast University. The event will focus on the relationships between water quality and resiliency with economic growth and development in Southwest Florida. Sponsorships are now available. Contact Molly Scott at 239-226-0500 for more information.

 

CONSTRUCTION BEGINS ON OUR LADY OF MERCY PARISH LIFE CENTER

Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. (O-A-K) has begun construction on Our Lady of Mercy Parish Life Center in Boca Grande. The new parish center will be built at 221 West Railroad Ave., just south of the church campus on Park Avenue. The proposed parish center is designed to blend into the existing Our Lady of Mercy style of architecture. The new center will be 3,604 square feet with a vestibule, commercial kitchen and almost 2,000 square feet of open meeting area. A sloped covered walkway will connect the existing church to the new center. The project includes demolishing an existing residence on the property, a crushed granite parking lot, sidewalk and landscaping. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The O-A-K project manager is John Klockner and site superintendent is Larry Walther. Abel Natali, O-A-K vice president, is the chief estimator. The architect is Plunkett Raysich Architects LLP.

 

David Call

FIFTH THIRD BANK SOUTH FLORIDA REGIONAL PRESIDENT TO RETIRE

Fifth Third Bank, National Association, has announced David Call, regional president for South Florida, will retire in June after dedicating more than 20 years to Fifth Third. Jim Weiss, a credit risk executive, will succeed him. Call has led teams in Florida since 2008. He previously served as regional president of our Ohio Valley region and worked in numerous roles in commercial and retail before taking on a regional leadership role in 2005. Weiss is a 14-year veteran with Fifth Third. Most recently serving as the middle market credit risk executive, he previously led Tampa Bay as city president and was the senior commercial banking executive in the North Florida region. His civic commitments include service as chair of the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council and executive committee for the Florida Aquarium. Weiss will relocate to South Florida for the new role.

 

Karen Mosteller

MOSTELLER APPOINTED TO PRIMEGLOBAL NORTH AMERICAN REGIONAL COUNCIL

Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Co. P.A. (MNMW) Partner Karen Mosteller has been appointed to the PrimeGlobal North American Regional Council. The Regional Council’s focus is on helping create and increase member value and represent the needs, suggestions and perspectives of all members. The advisory council represents the challenges and opportunities of more than 250 independent accounting firm offices in the North American region. Regional Councils contribute to the formation and development of strategy and plans and increase engagement by ensuring the process reflects member firm challenges and opportunities according to MNMW.

 

WRIGHT CONSTRUCTION GROUP CELEBRATES 75TH ANNIVERSARY 

Wright Construction Group celebrated its 75th-anniversary celebration with a formal event on May 20 at Wright Construction’s main office. Wright Construction Group President Fred Edman’s son, Jeff Edman, a project coordinator, hosted the event. The party began with a mocktail hour where guests watched slideshows of Wright Construction Group’s successful projects over the decades while enjoying hors d’oeuvres. The main reception featured a two-part video that honored the history and legacy of Wright Construction from its inception in 1946 until today. The party ended with a toast by Fred, who thanked his guests for their support for almost a century. Wright Construction Group has completed projects such as the Downtown Riverfront Basin, the Woodlands at Shell Point, Bonita Springs Downtown Redevelopment, and multiple Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida SouthWestern State College buildings.

 

CHARITABLE NOTES

 

Golisano Foundation grants $50,000 to Best Buddies

Best Buddies International has received a grant from the Golisano Foundation of $50,000 to expand its work in Southwest Florida to serve more individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. With the Golisano Foundation’s support, Best Buddies launched in Southwest Florida in October 2017. Initial funding supported organizing the local office, providing for space and operations. The Southwest Florida office, located at 5237 Summerlin Commons Blvd. in Fort Myers, is staffed with two full-time employees — area director Melanie Musick and program manager Molly Morrina, the school liaison. Currently, Southwest Florida has Best Buddies chapters at 26 schools in the community. School administrators, teachers and/or parents wanting Best Buddies offered at a specific school location in Lee, Collier, Charlotte or Sarasota counties should contact Musick at melaniemusick@bestbuddies.org or 239-275-2510.

 

 

Chef Jason Goddard dueling with Chef Gloria Jordan

2021 CHEF Culinary Showdown events benefit Southwest Florida area students

CHEF, the Culinary & Hospitality Education Foundation of Southwest Florida, held three events in 2021 to raise scholarship funds for culinary and hospitality students in Collier and Lee counties. CHEF’s 2021 signature event was the Culinary Showdown, featuring Aielli Restaurant Group Corporate Executive Chef Jason Goddard, challenged to an epicurean duel by La Trattoria Cafe Napoli Owner and Executive Chef Gloria Jordan. Emceed by Crave Cos. Chef Brian Roland, the event was held with a VIP studio audience in Luminary Hotel & Co.’s workshop event kitchen in February. Chefs Asif Syed, Harold Balink and Tony Ridgway served as the judges. In March, the pre-taped competition was shown online, and Goddard received CHEF’s Golden Whisk as the 2021 Showdown Champion. Additionally, CHEF Board Members Syed and Roland presented a “21 on 21 in 21” dinner. Held at 21 Spices by Chef Asif on April 21, the event featured 21 dishes. With proceeds from 2021 events, CHEF has raised and distributed nearly $400,000 in scholarships and grants since the organization’s inception.

 

Sunshine Ace Hardware supports Coastal Conservation Association

Sunshine Ace Hardware has renewed its commitment to ensuring the long-term health of Florida’s marine environment by extending its support to Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) Florida. Sunshine Ace, which has supported CCA for many years, sponsored the organization’s sold-out, annual fundraising banquet on May 22. The event included dinner, live and silent auctions, raffle prizes and opportunities to learn more about CCA’s work.

 

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