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At least 75 eateries opened and more than 30 closed during the first half of 2024 in Collier and Lee counties. This traditional halftime report provides a quick annual recap of the local venues that launched or left during the first six months of the year.  

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The region has recorded some notable closings so far this year.   

Some longtime restaurant spaces were vacated after the season ended this spring. The landmark Old Naples Pub shuttered at the end of May after operating nearly 35 years in downtown Naples and LJ’s Lounge had its last call in Fort Myers Shores after more than 30 years. Also in May, Real Seafood Co. and Poached closed in North Naples after runs of 20 and 13 years, respectively, and Naples Pizza closed in East Naples after more than 15 years.  

In June, Cici’s Pizza in North Naples closed after nearly 20 years, followed at the end of the month by the downtown Fort Myers location of Blu Sushi, which closed after about nine years.

Other pizzerias that permanently shuttered in the first half include Pizzata Pizzeria + Apertivo, Samuel Mancino’s Pizza & Grinders and Zza Baby Pizza in North Naples. PizzaJones! locations in Naples Bayfront and North Naples both closed, as well as I Ragazzi Pizza in Cape Coral and the Rosati’s franchise in the Shops at Jamaica Bay in south Fort Myers.  

Other restaurant chain locations that closed include the longtime Perkins on U.S. 41 East and BurgerFi at Shops at Eagle Creek in East Naples, and the I Heart Mac & Cheese stores in Cape Coral and Founders Square. Kruk’s Philly Steaks and Fusion Bowlz both closed in North Naples, as did KJ Sushi & Asian Bistro on Fifth Avenue South in Naples.  

Other closings in Lee County include Mediterranean Paradise Cafe in Bonita Springs, The Llama’s House in Estero, DJ Chinese Restaurant in south Fort Myers, Shawn & Tony’s Kitchen in Fort Myers and The Rude Shrimp Co. in Fort Myers Beach. In Cape Coral, other closings included Gregory’s Fusion Restaurant, Lion’s Den Bar & Grill and Palace Pub & Wine Bar, which is moving to a new location nearby.  


A few area restaurants reopened this year after being temporarily closed, the majority because of extensive damage sustained from Hurricane Ian in late 2022.  

Those include The Turtle Club Restaurant in North Naples, The Waterfront Restaurant in St. James City, Yucatan Waterfront Bar & Grill in Matlacha and The Lighthouse Cafe, Over Easy Cafe and Cheeburger Cheeburger on Sanibel. Nevermind Awesome Bar & Eatery reopened in March in the same Cape Coral spot after a farewell party and a three-month hiatus.  


Mela’s Cafe launched June 12 between Foxboro and Publix at Shops at Hammock Cove in East Naples. The local breakfast-lunch cafe is co-owned and operated by North Naples residents Clirim Bilaj and Karmela Brisku in the long-vacant former spots of Andy’s Susie’s Too and AJ’s Ice Cream.  

Tong Yin Naples also opened in June in the downtown Naples space that used to be Tropic Chill Deli on the east side of U.S. 41 south of Central Avenue. The restaurant is another Asian culinary treat from East Naples resident June Dispongsa, who launched Ichi Togarashi two years ago off Fifth Avenue South.  

Blue Agave Mexican Restaurant launched in May in the significantly remodeled location of Lozano’s Mexican Restaurant in Ave Maria’s Town Center. The new business is owned by Allan and Ruby Garcia, whose family has operated Juanita’s Authentic Mexican Restaurant for many years in Immokalee.  

Something different  

The area also welcomed some other venues that aren’t typical dining spots.   

Bay Street Yard in downtown Fort Myers and Rooftop at Riverside in downtown Bonita Springs are entertainment destinations that include multiple food trucks and bars. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at Mercato in North Naples stealthily delivers its food and beverage selections to moviegoers who don’t have to leave their leather recliners.  

Collier County started the year with a series of new sit-down restaurants that help elevate dining in the Naples area. Those include Keeywaydin’s on Fifth, The Syren Oyster & Cocktail Bar and Unidos Latin Kitchen & Bar, which all opened in January in the city of Naples, and J. Alexander’s Restaurant, which expanded to North Naples.   

Other newcomers include Lavender Cafe & Bistro in Naples and Tableside Restaurant and Imperio Taqueria, both at the Shoppes at Vanderbilt in North Naples. Naples Coastal Kitchen relocated this year from North Naples to Bonita Springs.  

Baked in  

Bakery businesses are quickly rising in the region.  

Bontà Bakery launched in February to create Italian specialties in downtown Naples. In May, Vicky Bakery opened in Ave Maria to create Cuban specialties, while Rock’n Rolls German Bakery & Bistro opened in Cape Coral. Sour & Dough Artisan Bakery opened in University Village near FGCU.   

Crave Cookies launched area bakeries in Estero and North Naples. Bakeries also are part of Suga Suga Naples and Acopio coffee shop in North Naples, and also Floridita Cuban Cafe, which opened additional locations in both Naples and North Naples.  

LadyCakes Bakery closed its 10-year location in June on Del Prado in Cape Coral and is relocating soon to Cape Coral Parkway. Angelic Desserts Bakery & Cafe is expanding its business with a relocation planned next door later this summer or early fall in North Naples, while Grappino in Naples is expanding its business with a bakery in the neighboring space of the former La Colmar Bakery & Bistro.  

Doubling up  

Some restaurant concepts opened additional locations.  

While Flo’s Clam Shack opened its first area location in East Naples, it mirrors others in Rhode Island. Likewise, with LoLa 41 Naples, which has initial locations on the east coast.  

Hooked Island Grill brought its seafood and cocktail creations to Cape Coral. Jimmie The Beef Guy expanded upon his Chicago sandwiches in Bonita Springs with a second shop in Fort Myers. El Gaucho brought its popular cuisine from Lee County to North Naples with a new trattoria. Oahu Fresh Bowls added to its Naples cafe with a Fort Myers address at the end of June.  

Naples-based Lake Park Diner doubled down with a second freestanding location at Founders Square. The Isle of Capri’s Osteria Capri launched a second restaurant nearby on Marco Island. The longtime Country House Restaurant in East Naples debuted another eatery on the edge of Golden Gate.  

Taco Works launched its third location in downtown Fort Myers. Michoacana Ice Cream recently built upon its East Naples and Bonita Springs locations with a triple scoop in The Pointe at Founders Square. Love Boat Ice Cream added to its local lineup with another shop at Cape Coral Commons.  

Chain gang  

Some well-received chains offering additional area locations included Bahama Breeze Island Grille and Twin Peaks at Coastland Center mall in Naples, The Capital Grille at Bell Tower in south Fort Myers, and Outback Steakhouse in Cape Coral.  

The 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill is part of the Compass Hotel by Margaritaville that opened in March in Naples. New quick-service restaurants included Checkers in Cape Coral, McDonald’s in Orangetree and Zaxby’s in Lehigh Acres.  

That’s Italian  

New Italian restaurants and pizzerias include Nolita at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples. Bruno’s Italian House & Pizzeria and Trulli Pizza & Pasta also launched in the Naples area this spring.  

The Goombah Pizzaiolo of Cape Coral and Pi Theory of Fort Myers both opened in February. Lombardough’s Pizza & Beer opened in March in San Carlos Park.  

Ohio-based Donatos Pizza launched its first area location in North Naples, while Mellow Mushroom and Romeo’s Pizza opened additional regional spots in Cape Coral and Estero, respectively.  

Bottoms up  

While offering food and snacks with their beverages, these places are known for their specialty drinks: Tempest Tea and Momo Tea Bar in North Naples, Beyond Juicery + Eatery in Naples, Banh Mi & Tea at Miromar Outlets in Estero and Take Two Coffee and Voodoo Brewing Co. in Fort Myers.  

More in Lee County  

Other restaurants new to Fort Myers include Eastwood 77 Bar & Grill, El Estadio Latin Sports Bar & Grill, La Fontanella Ristorante and Taza Cafe. Bellini’s and Nonchalance both came to south Fort Myers, while Jack’s Bar & Eatery opened in North Fort Myers.  

Many more dining options came to Cape Coral, including BARunch, Bimini Bites, Let’s Waffle, The Hungry Captain, Old Cuban Restaurant and Bar, Rico Cafe and The Rustic. Sanibel Island welcomed Wickies Lighthouse Restaurant and Magic Bus Ice Cream and Caffeine.  

The “Tim Aten Knows” weekly column answers local questions from readers. Email Tim at  

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