At least 15 new restaurants are already planned for East Naples and Marco Island in 2023. The table is set for many to launch in February.
Launched Jan. 9, The Mother Trucker Cafe was one of the first area restaurants to open in a new year that guarantees many culinary diversions. The small eatery at 4811 Tamiami Trail E. offers counter service with a menu of comfort food promising a taste of Chicago from all-beef Vienna hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches to deep-dish and thin-crust pizzas.
Continuing to lead the way in East Naples are the highly anticipated latest offerings from local entrepreneur Rebecca Maddox. The combination of two new wine venues, Rebecca’s and The Maddox, are nearing completion on Bayshore Drive. They are being built on the east side of Bayshore across from Maddox’s Celebration Park and Three60 Market.
Rebecca’s, the public portion out front, will have a 40-foot bar, a charcuterie room and a Three60 Wine shop. The Maddox, a members-only social club, will wrap around part of it on an open-air campus that both will share.
“I think the buzz is about just the sheer scope and size of what I call a campus,” Maddox said. “I hear often, ‘Gee, I didn’t expect it to be that large.’ You know, it’s a pretty large project for Bayshore, even though Bayshore is becoming more and more the place to be. So, there’s a lot of buzz about that.”
Rebecca’s is expected to launch in February slightly ahead of The Maddox, an innovative concept that has grown beyond its original plans.
“I really am trying to curate a club. It started out as kind of a wine club and it very much evolved into a social club,” Maddox said. “It’s about tastings, not just wine tastings but bourbon tastings and sake and oysters and cheese. Tastings are nothing more than the transfer of knowledge. So, we realize again as I started to see the building that we could taste and learn about many, many things in there.”
Also on the horizon, two unrelated supper clubs are targeted to launch four miles apart on Davis Boulevard in February. They are moving into spots vacated last fall by restaurants in East Naples.
Amber Phillips, a longtime local chef who has owned and operated the award-winning Sage Events & Catering gluten-free kitchen for many years, is building upon her culinary reach with Sage Supper Club. Last November, Phillips signed a lease to take over the former space of 485 Degrees eatery in the Pelican Larry’s Plaza at 7785 Davis Blvd.
“When I saw dear friends closing their restaurant, I decided it was time to get back where I belong, in the kitchen,” Phillips posted on her Sage Events’ social media accounts.
In addition to being a full catering kitchen, Phillips intends to launch Sage Supper Club in February with about 30 seats in a setting that won’t be a traditional restaurant, she said. “Think chef collaborations, cameo chef nights, themed events, farm-to-table events, test kitchen, ghost kitchen, commissary kitchen, pop-up restaurant opportunities, cooking classes, coursed dinners with wine and beer pairings, as well as mocktails and shrub drinks,” she said. “Basically, I am hoping to create a culinary heartbeat in my little space.”
Meanwhile, in Davis Plaza at 2795 Davis Blvd., Old Vines Supper Club is building out the small unit that formerly was home to Olympia Pizza & Gyros, Twisted Cheesery and Red’s Pizzeria. Old Vines is described as a local venue for informal, intimate prix-fixe dining and wine pairings, according to its website, which announces that the supper club is set to open on Valentine’s Day. Naples chef Brooke Kravetz, who co-owns the business, said the new dining destination will be ready for that date, pending final inspections.
The 30-seat venue will offer multi-course tasting menus and wine pairings on Thursday, Friday and Saturday each week, said Kravetz, who previously was the general manager and executive chef of The Cave Bistro & Wine Bar, chef de cuisine of Baleen at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort and sous chef at Sea Salt in the Naples area. “Generally, on Wednesday we are going to schedule a wine dinner,” she said. “On Tuesdays, we’re calling it Supper Club Tuesday with a four-course, family-style meal.”
Miller’s Ale House is planning to open its second Collier County location in February. The Florida-based sports bar is under construction in the center of Restaurant Row fronting Collier Boulevard near its intersection with U.S. 41 East. The 7,382-square-foot freestanding casual restaurant will have a full bar and a large outdoor dining space at 6827 Collier Blvd.
At least two other restaurants are coming this year to the Restaurant Row expansion on the other side of the Collier entrance into Freedom Square. “Two restaurant tenants are going on the other side of the street. Both of them are really good, but I can’t announce them yet,” said Charlie Ladd, president of Barron Commercial Development, the company that teamed with Amera Corp. to build Restaurant Row.
Expect a regionally-based restaurant as well as a national chain. One is a smaller breakfast restaurant sharing a proposed multiunit outparcel with a bank and the other is a larger, freestanding restaurant, said Ladd, who also would like to sign a pizzeria for Restaurant Row.
Two more pizzerias are expanding with locations in East Naples. Tony’s N.Y. Pizza, which has a restaurant in the Shops of Marco, is targeted to open a new local pizzeria in March at Berkshire Commons on the northwest corner of Santa Barbara Boulevard and Radio Road.
Sammy’s Pizza plans to launch in early February at 3829 Tamiami Trail E. in Naples Towne Centre South. It’s the first restaurant in Florida for a couple who operates three other Sammy’s Pizza locations near Chicago.
A handful of other chain restaurants plan locations in East Naples this year. On the East Trail, Dairy Queen plans to build a new drive-thru on a vacant lot next to Texas Tony’s; and Denny’s is coming to the former Rib City outparcel at Naples Towne Centre South. Off Collier Boulevard, Nautical Bowls is moving into a former dry cleaners space in Stock Plaza at Lely Resort; and Jersey Mike’s Sub is opening another location next month in a former Cricket Wireless store on Business Circle North.
La Granja is attempting to reactivate its building permit, which expired late last month, for the first location in Southwest Florida for the Florida-based chain, according to a company spokesperson. New plans will be submitted for the Peruvian-themed restaurant chain coming to the site of the former Checkers drive-in on the corner of Beck and Collier boulevards. The former double drive-thru was demolished but then work stalled on building the new restaurant next to the Waffle House just south of the Interstate 75 interchange in the Tollgate Commercial Center.
La Granja has more than 40 locations between Miami and Orlando. Its menu includes rotisserie chicken as well as steak, pork and seafood platters, fajitas, sandwiches, sides and desserts.
Four pending venues on Marco Island have been in a holding pattern for more than a year but hope to open in 2023. Three are coming to the sprawling Publix-anchored Marco Town Center, bordered by Collier Boulevard, Bald Eagle Drive and Elkcam Circle.
Former longtime Naples hangout Paddy Murphy’s Irish Pub plans to reboot this summer in a Marco Town Center end unit that previously was part of Vandy’s 5 Brothers Sports Bar & Italian Eatery. “We were hoping for this season but it’s not going to happen,” said Paddy Murphy’s co-owner Mike O’Regan, who experienced a variety of setbacks that kept him from opening last year.
The Irish pub was beset by a combination of permitting issues, supply chain problems and then the hurricane. An electrical panel took six months to come in and then an air-conditioning unit was stolen after Hurricane Ian, O’Regan said.
That means Paddy’s will miss another St. Patrick’s Day, of course. “We’ll stick with it and hope for St. Patrick’s Day next year,” he said.
Just like the original on Fifth Avenue South, expect the new Paddy Murphy’s at 1017 N. Collier Blvd., Unit 38, to sport a 50-foot bar and a patio. The Marco version will step outside the box, though, with an indoor-outdoor bar and a menu with some traditional Irish favorites such as corned beef and cabbage.
In that same center, Thai Thai Sushi Sports Bar is targeted to open in early February in an end space at 1035 N. Collier Blvd., Suite 302, which formerly was Breakfast Plus. Perhaps it should be named Thai Thai Thai because it’s the third in a series from Kiwi Sonethavilay and Tanapong Khayankit following the couple’s Thai Thai Sushi Boat in North Naples and Thai Thai Sushi Bowl, also off Collier Boulevard on the stretch between Marco Island and U.S. 41 East. Expect another extensive menu of Thai and Japanese cuisine for lunch and dinner.
Mr. Bentley’s Ice Cream also has dibs on a small space near Thai Thai in Marco Town Center. The new ice cream parlor is planned for 1035 N. Collier Blvd., Suite 308.
Elsewhere on Marco, The 844 Gulf & Prime has been working to open in the large former space of Arturo’s at 844 Bald Eagle Drive. The upscale seafood and steak restaurant is still finalizing a few issues with the city, said co-owner Tim Kearney, not wanting to commit to an opening date for the proposed restaurant. Partners in The 844 project also own the nearby Sand Bar and formerly owned the SpeakEasy of Marco Island.
A Mexican restaurant named Jose Louie’s is readying to open mid-year in the former longtime space of NeNe’s Kitchen and Taste of Chicago at 297 N. Collier Blvd. The address is just north of Doreen’s Cup of Joe and Joey’s Pizza & Pasta House, both of which are owned by Joe and Doreen Oliviero, who will co-own the new Mexican restaurant with Anthony and Kim Louis.
Also, anticipate the reopening of a rebuilt Snook Inn as the waterfront icon rebounds from hurricane damage. Restoration began in January but a relaunch date is not available yet for the landmark restaurant and bar that began operating nearly 40 years ago on the Marco River.
The “Tim Aten Knows” weekly column answers local questions from readers. Email Tim at Tim.Aten@NaplesPress.com. Follow him on social media: @TimAtenKnows on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.