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Q: Any word on Tap 42 opening at the old AZN spot in Mercato? Thanks for any info and keeping us up to date on things in the area. Benjamin Klee, Naples 

Q: Is Waxin’s going to open any time soon? —Steve Z., Naples 

A: Both local restaurant concepts, which have locations on the east coast of Florida, are targeted to open this summer at Mercato, the mixed-use destination anchored by Whole Foods Market near the intersection of U.S. 41 North and Vanderbilt Beach Road in North Naples. Both businesses are opening later than their original target launch dates, which truly have been moving targets. Tap 42 Craft Kitchen & Bar is shooting to open in the former space of AZN Azian Cuizine at the end of June or beginning of July, said Alex Rudolph, a partner and executive vice president of Tapco Restaurant Group, a Florida-based company that operates 10 locations along the state’s Atlantic coast. AZN’s longtime restaurateurs retired in December after nearly 15 years at Mercato, making way for Tap 42 to bring its casual concept to this market. 

Waxin’s, a Swedish-American upscale restaurant and bar, will launch shortly after in the former space of The Counter custom burger bar, which shuttered its Mercato location two years ago. 

“We are now in full speed and are looking for a July/August opening,” said Patrik Waxin, co-founder of Waxin’s, which opened its first location in 2020 in Palm Beach Gardens and plans to open a larger location in West Palm Beach this summer about the same time it launches in North Naples. 

Waxin’s features classic Swedish and American cuisines. The upscale dining spot is especially known for its Swedish meatballs, a Scandanavian specialty.  

Tap 42 plans to bring the party starting with its boozy brunch and continuing through its late-night hangout with an expansive bar and casual American menu of popular items such as a calamari tower and baby back ribs. Its Mercato venue—its 11th location and its first on the Gulf Coast—will be on the ground floor immediately below the new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. 

Not to be confused with Alamo indoor gun range in North Naples, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema opened with a bang at Mercato at the end of April with 11 dine-in theaters and HappyLand Movie Miniature Golf on the more than 33,000-square-foot second-floor space previously home to Silverspot Cinema. Film fans have been discovering that Alamo offers a memorable experience. 

“I think people have been really loving it. We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback about it. So, hopefully, it’s the new go-to for everybody,” said Lauren Ness, media relations manager for Atlanta-based North American Properties, the leasing agent and property manager for Mercato. 

More at Mercato 

Another hospitality concept, Beeline Ales & Spirits, is coming near the end of this year to a 4,000-square-foot end space at 9115 Strada Place, Suite 5155. Cincinnati-based 4EG, short for Four Entertainment Group, will open its third location and its first in Florida for Beeline, an upscale cocktail bar with a signature blend of craft concoctions, ales and spirits. Construction is anticipated to start this summer. 

Zza Baby Pizza Bar permanently closed April 27 in a Mercato space that previously had been Piola and Naples Flatbread pizzerias. Zza Baby, created by the founders of Bar Louie and Billy Bricks Pizza, operated for more than two years but didn’t attract a large enough audience to be sustainable. 

“We just couldn’t make ends meet there,” said co-owner Ted Kasemir. “We just had to pull the plug.” 

Kasemir has not given up on this market, though, and may regroup with another local concept eventually. 

Coming this summer to Mercato, Birch Lane will open its fourth brick-and-mortar location in the 9,994-square-foot corner space at 9100 Strada Place, Suite 2130, formerly the longtime home of Z Gallerie, a home decor retailer that filed for bankruptcy and shuttered all of its stores nationwide in 2023. Birch Lane, a specialty concept for home decor from Boston-based Wayfair e-commerce company, curates a selection of timeless anchor pieces, seasonal decor and classic home furnishings. 

“Online shopping offers its conveniences, but having physical stores creates a place for our customers to gather, make connections and receive guidance from our expert onsite staff who help our shoppers create a home where life’s many moments can unfold,” said Birch Lane General Manager Taylor Fitzpatrick. “Mercato is such a vibrant, lively destination so it felt like the perfect fit to expand here.” 

Another home furnishing store, Lovesac, is coming soon to the former space of Bio New York at 9115 Strada Place, Suite 5135.  

“Lovesac specializes in what they call Sactionals, which are essentially giant couches,” Ness said. “They are more of like one specific niche.” 

Also known for its premium foam beanbag chairs it calls Sacs, Lovesac will open its 20th location in Florida at Mercato. 

Other new retailers that recently opened in Mercato include iFlex stretch studios, which moved into former office space on the eastern end of the development. The Shade Store opened this spring next to Old Vines restaurant with a modern display of handcrafted custom blinds, draperies and shades.  

Speaking of shades, New York-based Warby Parker opened a store near the beginning of the year with its selection of prescription frames, contact lenses and sunglasses. Tempur-Pedic mattress store also opened earlier this year at 9105 Strada Place, Suite 3120, the previous location of men’s suit retailer Jos. A. Bank. 

Polestar update 

Polestar no longer plans to launch a dealership at Mercato. 

“We’re not going to Mercato. We are reevaluating and reassessing options. Mercato wasn’t zoned properly. Unfortunately, we weren’t disclosed that information,” said Joe Parisi, general manager/managing partner of Volvo Naples and Polestar Naples. 

Turns out that automobile dealerships are not a permitted use in the Mercato mixed-use planned unit development. Polestar argues that it employs a nontraditional method of retailing its electric vehicles but decided not to continue the local zoning debate. 

Polestar agents are looking for options now for a freestanding service and sales center elsewhere in Collier or Lee counties, Parisi said. In the meantime, the EV brand is available at Volvo Cars of Naples dealership, 5870 Naples Blvd, in North Naples. 

“Currently, people can come in and test drive and order and take vehicles at our temporary Volvo location until we find a permanent solution,” Parisi said. 

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

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