A new supper club that recently sprouted in East Naples, Old Vines is already planning growth with expansion soon into a full restaurant and bar at Mercato in North Naples.
Old Vines Supper Club launched Valentine’s Day in a Davis Plaza retail strip unit at 2795 Davis Blvd. that recently was home to Olympia Pizza & Gyros, Twisted Cheesery and Red’s Pizzeria.
The team behind Old Vines Wine Bar in Kennebunk, Maine, created Old Vines Supper Club, a local venue for informal, intimate prix-fixe dining and wine pairings. Encouraged by their many guests in Maine who winter in Naples, owners Jon Ellms and Rick Taranto tapped good friend Brooke Kravetz, Old Vines’ first chef, as managing partner for the local expansion of the restaurant group.
“I’ve known them for about 12 years. I was the first chef at Old Vines Wine Bar about 12 years ago,” Kravetz said. “We decided to partner and bring some places to Naples.”
Within the last decade, Kravetz had already brought her kitchen skills to Naples as sous chef at Sea Salt, chef de cuisine of Baleen at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort and eventually general manager of The Cave Bistro & Wine Bar.
In her latest role, Kravetz has created a chef-driven supper club, a 30-seat dining destination with multi-course tasting menus, wine pairings and more. The idea is to also use the small space for private events such as wine dinners and rehearsal dinners for up to 30 people.
“I’ve always had the dream to do a little tasting menu restaurant, 30 seats. You know, you’re only cooking for 30 people a night. So that’s been lingering in my head for many years,” she said.
Open Tuesday through Saturday, the supper club concept offers something a little different on different nights.
“So, Tuesday and Wednesday are a set menu. Tuesday is our supper club, a family-style, four-course feast we’re calling it,” Kravetz said. “There’s a salad that’s shared among your group of two, three, four, however many it is, and then the protein of that week, which changes weekly and will kind of repeat itself on a four- or five-week cycle.”
For instance, a recent Tuesday featured duck two ways with a duck breast and confit duck leg over Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and duck bacon with a glaze, as well as cheese and dessert courses.
“Wednesday nights we’re featuring winemakers or winery owners who come in and present their wines,” said Kravetz, noting that she works with distributors to select a menu that pairs well with the featured wines. “Then they come in, and it’s informative but it’s also fun, and they’ll talk about the wine and the wine-making process.”
The tasting menus for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights provide two options for each of the five courses plus wines curated for each selection. In March, starters included amberjack crudo or a carrot and apricot burrata dish; a second course with potato-crusted red snapper or local mushrooms with parmesan polenta foam, confit yolk, black truffle and porcini powder; a third course with pork belly or roasted monkfish; a fourth course with duck breast or short rib; and a couple of creative dessert options.
“So, the idea is that if you prefer fish or even if you’re a vegetarian we can accommodate and you get to have five small portions that we pair with wine,” Kravetz said.
Old Vines at Mercato, branded as a modern American restaurant and wine bar, obviously will be different than the supper club, and stems from a personal plan to create a major restaurant, Kravetz said.
“I want to say more upscale dining without any of the pretentiousness or white glove service or any of that stuff. We won’t have tablecloths on the table. It will feel very comfortable,” she said. “The theme will be the same—that you know you can expect fantastic food, beverage and service—but just in a slightly different environment.”
Both venues will have similar finishes, such as charcoal-colored walls with red elements, wood textures, butcher block tables, nice glassware and red velvet curtains.
Old Vines is moving into the former Mercato location of TooJay’s Deli and previously Stage Deli. Florida-based TooJay’s permanently closed its North Naples restaurant and four other locations as it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the fall of 2020. The 3,100-square-foot space at 9105 Strada Place has been vacant since then. The Old Vines team took possession of the space in late February, and has been finalizing architectural plans and looking to start the new restaurant’s buildout in April, if possible.
“We’re shooting for a late summer open, probably late July or August in an ideal world. We’ll see how permitting goes and the buildout renovation we need to undertake,” Kravetz said.
Old Vines at Mercato will have more than three times the dining space of the venue in East Naples. “We have some logistics to work out, but there we’ll have anywhere from 150 to 190 seats,” she said. “We definitely can fit about 90 seats inside. We’re working with the Mercato on how much of the outside space we can use. We can use at least enough to get us to the 150, and we might have more space to get us an extra 30 or 40 seats.”
In Florida, being equipped to serve meals to 150 people at one time is one of the legal requirements for restaurants to qualify for a state liquor license. Old Vines plans to have a full bar at Mercato, while its East Naples location serves beer, wine and wine-based cocktails.
The Mercato location will open earlier in the day and be open every day for a late lunch or bar bites until full dinners are served through 10 p.m. “It will be an a la carte-style menu—heavy appetizer list, snack list, small plates and then larger entrées and sides,” Kravetz said.
“We’ll change it seasonally, so the menu will change every three months, at least 50 or 60 percent of it,” she said.