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The second location for Aqua restaurant and lounge debuted last week in the former Perkins Restaurant & Bakery in Bonita Springs. The space had been vacant since May 2020, when Perkins permanently closed that corporate-run location after operating it for about 25 years on the northeast corner of U.S. 41 and Bonita Beach Road.

Since its soft opening on Nov. 7, the new Aqua has been busy, said manager Jackie Stojkoski, whose parents also own and operate Aqua Seafood & Steaks in downtown Naples. The new location’s grand opening party is all day Wednesday, with a happy hour throughout the restaurant from 3 to 6 p.m. and live music with local piano man Joey Martell starting at 8 p.m. The restaurant hosts live music every night.

The Bonita menu expands upon what the Naples venue has offered for over a decade. “It’s much larger,” Stojkoski said. “We have 14 pasta dishes and several more options for steak. We have bigger pork chops. We have a tomahawk steak, two Wagyu steaks that we just added and eight different risottos. Because we have a bigger kitchen, a bigger restaurant, we can accommodate more.”

In addition to the tomahawk steak, mushroom scallop risotto and king crab legs, a 5-ounce burger for happy hour is among the most popular menu items so far. “It’s the biggest seller ever because everyone loves a good burger,” Stojkoski said. 

Aqua also has many seafood options, including entrees such as fish and chips, sesame-crusted ahi tuna and fish tacos, and a raw bar with oysters on the half-shell and clams casino.

Besides its dining room, the 275-seat restaurant features outdoor seating and two full bars, one of which is indoor-outdoor. “We also have the wine room here that fits 20 people and a private dining room you can sit in whenever, but you can also book it for private events for up to 60 people,” Stojkoski said. “We can do private events on the patio, as well.”

The highly visible location on the busy corner can be a little tricky to reach at first. “We have signs made to get in and out but once you’re here you don’t leave,” Stojkoski joked. “You stay here all day.”

In addition to Aqua in Bonita Springs and Naples, the family also operates Liki Tiki BBQ on U.S. 41 in Naples. Their Liki Tiki on Fort Myers Beach was destroyed this season by Hurricane Ian on property they own on the barrier island. “It’s completely gone. It’s pretty much sand and a slab of concrete from our bar,” Stojkoski said. “We want to rebuild, but it’s going to take a little bit over two years probably. It was a total loss.”  

In the meantime, Liki Tiki is expected to resurface elsewhere along the Gulf. “We did buy another property back in May off of San Carlos Boulevard right before the bridge,” she said. “It’s 15,000 square feet. It used to be Skip’s One Seafood Market. And, we’re planning to open Liki Tiki BBQ there for the meantime. There’s a nice restaurant/bar area. But the other portion we’re not sure what we’re going to do with it yet.”

The Stojkoskis are waiting on permitting for the new Liki Tiki, which they hope to launch before the new year. “We want to bring businesses back here and get back to the new normal,” Stojkoski said.

She said that employees of the demolished Liki Tiki are still employed at Aqua or the Liki Tiki location in Naples. “Wherever they lived closer to, that’s the restaurant we moved them to. So, none of them lost their jobs, fortunately, with our company.”

Aqua, 27940 Crown Lake Blvd., Bonita Springs is open daily for lunch, dinner and late night from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Reservations are suggested for tables but bar seating is first come, first served.

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