Q: What’s happening down in the Olde Naples Building on the corner of Third Street South and Broad Avenue South? Heard a rumor of another Italian restaurant. — Greg Economos, Naples
A: A new restaurant is coming to the Olde Naples Building on the southwest corner of Third Street South and Broad Avenue, but a timeline and all the details of the dining concept are not available yet.
“We are still working on the food, menu and design, but we hope to put in a classic American grill that we hope will last for generations,” messaged Rick Doody, founder and CEO of NCR Ventures, an Ohio-based restaurant group. “My family has operated a restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, named Lindey’s for 43 years. More to come.”
Having built more than 100 restaurants, Doody is being modest about his family’s accomplishments. He and his brother, Chris, started the Columbus-based Bravo Brio Restaurant Group in 1992. The parent of the Bravo! Cucina Italiana and Brio Tuscan Grille restaurant chains went public in 2010 and the Doodys sold the company for about $100 million in 2018.
Rick Doody’s latest restaurant group, NCR — short for Next Cool Restaurants — operates six concepts in northeastern Ohio: Bar Italia, Cedar Creek Grille, JoJo’s Bar, JoJo’s Backyard, Lindey’s Lake House and 17 River Grille.
Bar Italia recently ventured outside of Ohio, ironically replacing Brio in Winter Park, Florida. The Bar Italia dining concept features house-made pasta, scratch-made wood-fired pizzas and a menu section where patrons choose their own pasta, sauce and protein combinations. On the other hand, Lindey’s Lake House and 17 River Grille feature classic American grill cuisine with simple preparations of steak, seafood, burgers, pasta, salads and handcrafted cocktails.
Whether one of these concepts or another one of NCR’s ventures is coming to Naples is still unknown, but the company’s leader knows the Naples area. Rick Doody and his wife have owned a second home for more than five years in the Kalea Bay condominium towers in North Naples.
They plan to create a home for their new restaurant in the Olde Naples Building, which is one of the oldest buildings in Naples. Built in 1921, a few blocks from the Gulf, the downtown structure has been vacant since 2006, when Fantozzi’s of Olde Naples closed after operating a deli/wine and cheese shop there for 20 years. That historic building at 1148 Third St. S. is notable for being home to Naples’ first movie theater, playhouse, doctor’s office, library, church and real estate office while also hosting the city’s first council meetings and high school graduation.
A building permit was issued in August 2022 for the renovation of the Olde Naples Building to convert it from a grocery store to a restaurant and kitchen. The City Council agenda this week included a resolution to establish outdoor dining for the Olde Naples Building, which is proposed to include 17 tables and 76 seats for dining al fresco on the private property. The restaurant’s outdoor dining issue was continued to City Council’s June 21 meeting because the applicant is still working with the fire marshal regarding outdoor heaters.
The Camalier family — longtime Neapolitans who own the adjacent property where the Old Naples Hotel will be built on the former Third Street Plaza site — also have owned the Olde Naples Building for about 40 years. Their proposed hotel will abut the south and west sides of the Olde Naples Building, which the restaurant company is leasing.
The late Charles A. Camalier Jr. of Rock Spring Properties Ltd. in Bethesda, Maryland, purchased the now century-old building and its third of an acre in August 1983 for $550,000. The land value now is estimated to be about five times that amount, Collier County property records show.
After the Naples Design Review Board approved the Camaliers’ plans for total restoration of the Olde Naples Building in 2010, work began to restore it as much as possible to its original 1921 appearance inside and out. That work uncovered the building’s pine timber truss framework that had been hidden for decades behind a ceiling.
Because the building was constructed prior to the city’s incorporation and before the adoption of regulations requiring property owners to provide off-street parking, there are no physical parking spaces on the site. The building is considered a legal nonconforming structure, according to a recent city planning department memorandum to city officials.
“In September of 2011, former Planning Director Robin Singer issued an administrative determination that the last permitted use of the property operated with a parking deficit of 76 parking spaces and that the building was established as a lawful nonconformity. She determined that while there are no spaces provided for this building, it was functional with a 76-space parking deficit. The building is a nonconformity due to its noncompliant parking,” the city planning department reports.
The proposed restaurant plans 6,080 square feet inside and 4,630 square feet outside on private property.
“The restaurant that will occupy this building will be a conventional restaurant serving alcoholic beverages through a liquor license, which will extend to cover the outdoor dining area,” city records show.
Site plans show small planter beds at the perimeter of the property abutting Third Street South, a planter bed along a portion of the perimeter along Broad Avenue South, the preservation of an existing live oak on the northwest corner of the property and lush planter beds at the base of the building.
The “Tim Aten Knows” weekly column answers local questions from readers. Email Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org.