The Snook Inn on the north side of Marco Island celebrated its reopening Monday after being closed for more than a year following Hurricane Ian. The more than 30-year-old restaurant on Bald Eagle Drive sustained major water and wind damage from the hurricane and underwent a complete renovation with some major enhancements.
Owner Luigi Carvelli, who made Marco Island his home in the 1990s after growing up in Italy, bought the Snook Inn property in 2017 from the Passini and Banks family who managed the property for 32 years. Carvelli also owns other restaurants on the island, including DaVinci’s and Marco Prime Steak & Seafood.
He understands the Snook Inn holds a special place in the hearts of locals and tourists. Throughout the renovation journey, Carvelli said he received overflowing support from the community.
“We had messages, we had photos of memories people shared of the Snook Inn. It was very overwhelming, and all that has really validated what we all knew all along—that this place is bigger than us,” Carvelli said. “It’s not just a restaurant, it’s a landmark. If you haven’t been to the Snook Inn, then you haven’t been to Marco Island.”
Changes to the restaurant can be seen from top to bottom, from the chickee hut, which now stands at 35 feet tall, to a new bar with upgraded draft technology. With an extended area for live music, customers can expect shows from as large as a seven-piece band. The outdoor patio dining area has new flooring and benches, along with renovated docks for boats.
The indoor area, which received more than 5 feet of flooding from Ian, has an even better view now of the Marco River than before, with hurricane-impact windows spanning from the floor to the roof. The classic Snook Inn salad bar remains in the dining area for customers to help themselves.
New tiki-style decorations can be seen throughout the restaurant, elevating the islander charm locals have grown to know and love.
“We have put a lot of detail into making it a very Polynesian-, Floridian- and Caribbean-type of thing,” Carvelli said. “I love stuff like this. It’s my passion.”
Classic menu items, such as the grouper sandwich and Carvelli’s favorite crab cakes, remain on the menu, along with new additions, such as the lobster roll and cheesesteak with blue cheese.
The restaurant hit some hurdles during the renovation process, including obtaining proper permits from the city while trying to maintain the historical charm of the local spot. Some minor cleanup of the outdoor areas was also needed after the large amount of rain from Hurricane Idalia in August.
“I strongly believe that this was also a learning curve for the city,” Carvelli said. “It’s such a unique piece of property. It’s got so much history, so that was very challenging.”
Renovations are not yet complete, with the second outdoor dining level still under construction and anticipated to be open to the public within the next four weeks.
Carvelli said he will continue to maintain and enhance the Snook Inn charm that many know to be a staple of Marco Island.
“This place will be within our family for generations to come,” Carvelli said. “We don’t intend to do anything with it, just nurture it like the previous owners did.”