The Oasis will provide a redefined refuge in the Naples area when it launches in March at the original location of Pelican Larry’s Raw Bar & Grill at 1046 Pine Ridge Road.
It’s “last call” this week for the original Pelican Larry’s, which opened 25 years ago on Pine Ridge near the corner of U.S. 41. Live music and guest disc jockeys will celebrate the venue’s final days this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Although ownership changed hands Tuesday, original owner Randy Seyler will be on hand through Sunday to manage the operation, which has been informally called Dirty Larry’s, a nod to Clint Eastwood’s popular “Dirty Harry” movie series.
Seyler even owns Dirty Larry’s LLC. “I incorporated the name because I like it and I might do something with it eventually,” he said.
Although he now has three other Pelican Larry’s locations, Seyler said he’ll always remember the good times at that original location. “It’s like a second home,” he said. “It’s like more of a home than any home I’ve had down here.”
As one door closes, another one opens for Pelican Larry’s, which launched a Lee County location Monday, Jan. 16, at University Village near Florida Gulf Coast University. Larry’s moved into the large space vacated in 2021 by Marlin’s Brewhouse. Starting Monday, the neighboring companion space formerly occupied by CaliBurger will be the second location of Off the Bone BBQ + Ribhouse, another concept introduced three years ago in North Naples by Seyler and his wife, Kelly. They will smoke meats on site there.
The Seylers also will continue to operate the other locations of Pelican Larry’s that later opened in Collier County. The new menu introduced this week at the University Village location will be rolled out Jan. 23 at the Immokalee Road location and Jan. 30 on Davis Boulevard, Seyler said. After this weekend’s sendoff celebrations, the original Pelican Larry’s on Pine Ridge will continue to operate for weeks yet under new ownership until it makes the transition to The Oasis. Hurricane Ian knocked out Pelican Larry’s main sign atop the Pelican Place retail strip, but the business is open even though the lights remain dark out front.
“We actually took over [Tuesday] but I’m going to leave it open for the time being just because right now I’m waiting on a ton of stuff,” said Naples resident Dan Latino, who owns The Oasis. “With the way the supply chain is right now, I’m waiting on chairs and my new sign and all that good stuff so I’m planning on leaving it open as is for now for the next month and a half. Then, in March, I plan on closing down for maybe a week or five days to put the finishing touches on the place and then reopen as the fully rebranded Oasis.”
Latino said the business deal with Seyler was a matter of good timing.
“I just approached him,” Latino said. “One day I just sent Randy a random email and asked if he wanted to sell any of his locations, and he responded that he did. So, a few days later we met up at the Pine Ridge location and we hit it off right away and immediately came up with a deal.”
Longtime fans of Pelican Larry’s will notice the eventual changes at the Pine Ridge venue.
“It’s going to be completely different, to be honest,” Latino said. “We’re leaving the layout and footprint of the space as is. We’re not going to remove the main bar or knock down any walls or anything like that, but it will be a complete cosmetic rebrand, completely new menu, completely new cocktail list and beer list, and then eventually this summer we’re planning on redoing the outside as well. We’re going to hope to re-add that bar that was outside a few years back. The outdoor space really needs an update.”
Plans were approved years ago for a proposed roof extension designed to create a covered patio over the existing outside dining deck in front of the venue. The addition will allow at least 40 seats with an outdoor bar in a 25-by-38-foot space, according to plans filed with Collier County Growth Management.
Latino is a seasoned restaurateur who has many business conversions under his belt in the Chicago area. He owns and operates Waterhouse Tavern & Grill, Country Club Chicago and three locations of Easy Street Pizza & Beer Garden. He also plans to eventually open another bar and grill at the site of the former Break Time Lounge in East Naples.
“Our hope is to open that location in the next year or so. That’s what originally brought us down,” he said.
Latino doesn’t draw similarities between The Oasis and the establishments he already operates. “This will be a completely different theme and a completely different concept,” he said. “The menu down here at The Oasis will be casual seafood-focused. Nothing over 20 bucks, so we’re not going to do lobster or crab legs or anything like that but we plan on keeping the oysters, and then we’ll also do stuff like shrimp and calamari, some clams, grouper. And, then, we’ll have casual American classics. We do a really good diner burger. We’ll have chicken sandwiches and salads, some healthy options as well.”
With their children, ages 5 and 8, Latino and his wife decided to relocate from Chicago to Naples, where his dad has lived for 15 years. “We always came down to visit and we’ve always loved Naples and this is where we wanted to end up,” Latino said. “So, we just decided to make the move.”