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A business split temporarily closed The Causeway food hall and bar May 23, less than six months after its Dec. 6 launch in the Causeway Commerce Park on Old 41 Road just south of Bonita Beach Road in Bonita Springs.  

The Causeway co-owners Ken Delaney, Randy Decker and Janak Amin were responsible for operating the venue’s indoor-outdoor bar and self-serve beer tap wall in the commercial condominium, while they sublet the food service part of the business to a Naples family. Carl Smith was the executive chef overseeing kitchens for three distinct dining concepts; his wife, Carol, was the general manager; and their daughter, Natasha, was the baker for the business.  

At 3:30 p.m. May 23, the Smiths were asked to be out by Monday morning, Memorial Day, Carl Smith said. “We were gone by Saturday evening. I had to close the kitchens,” he said.  

The Causeway food hall in Bonita SpringsThe Smiths left with their four food concepts—Smithy’s Kitchen, Orzo Pizza & Pasta, Roast Sandwich Bar and Dessert Lab—that shared a common indoor-outdoor dining area.  

“The concepts actually belong to me—the food and the menus, everything on that scale—so they can’t be open with my branding, with my logos, with my concepts,” Smith said. “All the kitchen equipment was ours, even like down to plates. We took everything and we left.”   

The Smith family had to donate and give away at least $3,000 in perishable food they had stocked, while they rented a 20-by-20-foot storage unit to temporarily store everything else, Smith said.  

The Causeway will remain closed this week while Delaney and his business partners decide what to do about partnering with another restaurant operator, Delaney said.  

“It’s just kind of like a business partner problem,” he said. “We all kind of had differences on how we’re going to go forward with everything. I’m working it out with the partners and we’re going to figure out hopefully in the next eight to 10 days what we’re going to do to go forward.”  

Meanwhile, the Smiths are looking to start over as quickly as possible in a second-generation restaurant space ideally in the Naples or Bonita Springs area, Smith said.   

“We’re looking for something about 5,000 square feet,” he said. “I’ve been looking for something around Immokalee Road right now. I like Bonita but I don’t know of anywhere that’s available.”  

The Smiths initially plan to combine their dining concepts under a single brand now and do another three- or four-concept menu again later, Smith said. His food concepts did well, he said, but it was a struggle to staff three separate kitchens with individual chefs on slower nights. “We had a pretty decent local following,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll travel a little bit more if we have to go away from Bonita when we open.”  

The next venture will probably be called Smithy’s Kitchen, combining that concept’s international street food with the best of their other concepts for lunch and dinner and eventually brunch, Smith said.  

“It would be Smithy’s logo and we would mix the best items from all of the kitchens, as well as all of the stuff we sold at Smithy’s,” he said. “So, we would take so many pastas, so many pizzas, the good sandwiches, the shared boards and mix it all into one.”  

Top sellers making the final cut would include the ramen noodle bowl, the Pekin duck pizza and the wild mushroom and carbonara pasta dishes. “I would just take and make one menu,” Smith said.  

The Causeway co-owners need to find another restaurateur before reopening the food hall.  

“We’re hoping to keep it going. I just have to get a couple of things to work through all the next steps,” Delaney said. “At this point, I’m taking back over as the managing partner, and I have to make some decisions. I have a couple of people sending me proposals. I just have to look at it all and make the best decision for us moving forward business-wise.”  

The Smiths hope to find a new restaurant space soon so that they can prepare it this summer for a possible fall opening.  

“I still have another company. We do construction as well, so it’s not like we’re dead in the water with nothing,” Smith said. “So, we’re just going to carry on looking and try to get back in business with a restaurant as soon as possible.” 

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