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This is one of the toughest columns to write each year because documenting local restaurants that close usually represents a serious financial and personal loss for someone. Because every restaurant also is somebody’s favorite dining spot, it’s usually a disappointment for diners, too. 

That being said, readers and restaurateurs still like to reminisce about places where they enjoyed breaking bread or conversing over cocktails. Here’s a look back at many of the restaurants we lost in 2023. 

Final countdown 

On Dec. 22, D’Amico & Partners had the difficult task of informing the staff of Ziggy D’Amico’s Whiskey Bar & Diner that it was not renewing its lease of the Neapolitan Way end space where it has operated a restaurant for 25 years. D’Amico & Sons restaurant operated there from 1998 until June 2020, when it temporarily closed for an extreme makeover. It relaunched in November 2020 as Ziggy D’Amico’s, which just permanently closed after operating for three years at 4691 Ninth St. N.  Named after co-owner Richard D’Amico’s border collie, the casual Ziggy’s is survived by its upscale siblings, Campiello and The Continental, which D’Amico still operates on Third Street South in downtown Naples. 

Another longtime restaurant was shuttered earlier this month at Mercato in North Naples. After operating AZN Azian Cuizine for nearly 15 years, its owners announced their retirement and permanently closed their last restaurant. 

Two longtime restaurants on Marco Island also recently closed. Bistro Soleil ended its 15-year run in November at the historic Olde Marco Inn & Suites. Two months earlier, the Old Marco Pub closed after operating for 23 years on Marco Island. 

Also, after operating for 23 years on Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples, Yabba Island Grill surprisingly closed July 2 after Culinary Concepts sold its restaurant group to Phelan Family Brands. Phelan plans to launch Keewaydin’s, a new high-end concept there.  

The Pearl Steak & Seafood Restaurant permanently closed in mid-September after a more than five-year run at Fountain Park in North Naples. 

Broken chains 

Panera Bread permanently closed this month in Gateway Shoppes at North Bay off Wiggins Pass Road in North Naples. The chain’s closing of the 15-year-old store leaves four locations in Collier County. 

Pollo Tropical, one of the first to open in Restaurant Row Naples, quietly closed last month on Collier Boulevard. Area locations for Clean Juice also closed this year in North Naples and Estero. 

Final surge 

Although Hurricane Ian actually closed many restaurants last fall, we didn’t know some were permanently closed until about nine months later. Bonefish Grill at Naples Bay Resort and Caffe dell’Amore both were shuttered in Naples after successful local runs in Naples. Gatsby’s Pizza on Bonita Beach Road also was wiped out by storm surge, but the business resurfaced on U.S. 41 with new owners in the Bonita Springs location where Lil’ Italy Bistro had operated for 10 years before closing earlier this year. 

Slice of reality 

Marking the end of an era, the original location and namesake of Napoli on the Bay Pizzeria closed in Crayton Cove at the end of April ahead of a redevelopment project. This summer, Napoli pizzeria moved into the unit vacated by 3rd Street Cafe next to the storm-ravaged 7-Eleven on Third Street South, but it didn’t last long. The city red-tagged the business until permitting issues can be satisfied. 

In other local pizza cuts, Industry Pizza & Slice Shop and Rio Pizzeria both called it quits in North Naples. 


Many local restaurant names were retired as they morphed into new concepts. 

The original Pelican Larry’s Raw Bar & Grill on Pine Ridge Road changed hands after 25 years and became The Oasis in the first quarter of the year. Pelican Larry’s still has two locations in Collier and one in Lee County. 

In East Naples, Fish 41 saw new ownership that changed the longtime Lakewood Plaza dining spot to Stix Sushi & Seafood. La Cuisine Peruvian restaurant was sold in Naples Towne Centre South and was renamed Espíritu Peruvian Cuisine.  

The R’s Diner closed its location on Collier Boulevard in Golden Gate after it was purchased by the owner of the Country House Restaurant, a brunch favorite on Davis Boulevard that plans to open a second location of Country House soon. The original East Naples locations of The R’s and Country House will remain open. 

Smyrna Cafe on Park Street in downtown Naples morphed into Cafe Marquise in mid-summer under new ownership. Seaside Bar & Grill in Bonita Springs also was sold and became North Bonita Country Club. 

At a few local places, the restaurant didn’t change ownership, but old names and concepts were replaced with new offerings. That was the case with Industry Beer & BBQ in Naples and The BBQ Shop in North Naples; both became PizzaJones!, another pizzeria product from co-owner chef Chris Jones. 

Cafe Nutrients on U.S. 41 in Naples added a natural wine partner and became Bar Nat. Fit & Fuel Cafe in The Pavilion in North Naples added a new partner and chef to change gears for the creation of Bicyclette Cookshop. Frankie’s Italian Deli retained its name but closed its original location on Collier Boulevard to move to new digs in April at St. Andrew’s Square on U.S. 41 in East Naples. 

More Collier closings 

A couple of other longtimers closed this year in downtown Naples. Regina’s Ice Cream Pavilion scooped its last cone in mid-August after 35 years in business. European Bakery & Cafe closed early in the year after a nearly 15-year run. 

Also in Naples, La Bella Apulia Gourmet Italian Market closed this year in the Shoppes at Dockside, La Colmar Bakery & Bistro shuttered June 14 in Forty One Ten Design Park, Vegan Kitchen closed July 2 in Neapolitan Way and Afsona Restaurant took a permanent vacation starting July 16 in Trinity Plaza. After Southern Style Kitchen closed June 5 in Naples Bayfront, a deal fell through to launch Ambrosi & Sons Italian Market & Restaurant in that space. 

In North Naples, the original location of Fuji Sushi Bar & Asian Bistro closed on Naples Boulevard, Mila Bistro walked away from Naples Walk, and Nawty Hogg BBQ and Alpine Restaurant both called it quits in the Shoppes at Vanderbilt. 

In East Naples, we saw the end of Gina’s Cafe in the Park, Asian Palace in Kings Lake Square and Bamz on the East Trail. In October, we saw the closing of Lozano’s Mexican Restaurant location in Ave Maria. 

Last look in Lee 

New opportunities are already available or coming soon in restaurant spaces vacated this year in Lee County, but here’s a quick look back at many that have moved on. 

In Bonita Springs, Cirella’s Italian Bistro & Sushi Bar closed its first and final local spot in May. Next-door neighbors Lil Italy Bistro and Binto Thai shuttered early in the year near the Lee-Collier county line. In Estero, The Saloon permanently closed at the end of April in Coconut Point and The Food Rock Cafe dropped out of University Village near FGCU. 

In south Fort Myers, Stillwater Grille shut down in May and Uva’s Vino & Tapas sadly shuttered at the end of summer. In September, Mitchell’s Bar-B-Q and House of Pasta & Piano Bar closed. In Fort Myers, The Gathering Place closed in February, The Doughnut Station closed up shop in May and Stevie Tomato’s Sports Page called it quits Dec. 12 at its location on Colonial Boulevard. 

In Cape Coral, I Ragazzi Pizza closed its longtime location on Hancock Bridge Parkway in May and reopened this fall in The Lion’s Den Bar and Grill on Del Prado. The Chicago Beef Guy and Poppa Don’s Italian Deli closed earlier in the year. 

Sip & Dine Restaurant and Life: The Vegan Drive Thru both closed this summer. Duval Street and Ichiyummy Sushi & Hibachi also closed in the Cape. 

Big Storm Brewing Restaurant & Taproom closed its Cape Coral location in September and, across the street, Nevermind Awesome Bar & Eatery is moving out Dec. 30. 

After taking an extended sabbatical in North Fort Myers, Rosy Tomorrows Heritage Farm and restaurant announced that it was sold and permanently closed. 

Open and shut cases 

Almost every year a few local restaurants both open and close in the same calendar year. Sadly, this happened in 2023. 

The Mother Trucker Cafe was an instant fan favorite when it launched in East Naples in January, but within weeks the fire department shut it down for technicalities. The cafe owner vowed to remedy the situation, but the restaurant didn’t reopen. 

Dutch-Way Cafe launched its Amish-inspired eatery in Fort Myers in May, but it was replaced Dec. 19 with Lost Shot Bar & Grill. Mountain 4 Restaurant launched this summer in Fort Myers, but a family emergency has had it shuttered for the last couple of months.  

In Cape Coral, Joe Schmoe’s closed shortly after its July opening. A local franchise of PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans closed in October, four months after opening in Cape Coral. About eight months after opening early in the year, I Heart Mac & Cheese in Cape Coral also was shuttered in October, but a new franchisee plans to reopen it on Jan. 5. 

In the next few weeks, we’ll enjoy a look at some of the many area restaurants that opened in 2023 and others still coming in 2024. Happy New Year! 

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

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