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It’s not that often that the city of Naples is the regional hot spot for new restaurants coming to the area but such is the case in 2023. Nearly 20 new dining venues are targeted to open this calendar year within the city limits.

That’s nearly a quarter of the more than 80 restaurants already on the radar coming to Naples, North Naples, East Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Estero, Fort Myers and elsewhere in Southwest Florida. Of course, those are the ones we know about now. Expect even more.

We probably haven’t had a year this promising since 2017, when The French, The Bevy, The Rooster Food + Drink, La Colmar Bakery & Bistro, Café Nutrients, Vegan Kitchen, The Bowl and Brooklyn Dough with a Hole all opened in Naples. Many others that opened that year in the city closed or changed names during the last five years.

The most-anticipated culinary venues for 2023 are grabbing attention with the promise of upping Naples’ upscale dining scene. Making that list are Le Colonial, Lola 41, PJK Neighborhood Chinese, Ocean Garden, Sava, 7J7 Sky Lounge, The Syren, Unidos and Warren American Whiskey Kitchen.

The influx of high-end newcomers can be attributed to the fact that a Four Seasons luxury resort is turning heads by coming to the Naples Beach Club property being redeveloped in Naples, said local longtime restaurateur Peter Tierney, who operates The Claw Bar and Bellasera Resort in Naples and The Turtle Club in North Naples. “There’s a thing called the Four Seasons effect. It actually is a thing,” Tierney said. “They all know what that brings and what the long-term effect is.”

Although he has mixed feelings about the growth, he admits it’s going to be wonderful for Naples, agreeing with the aphorism that a rising tide lifts all boats. “It’s definitely going to change the fabric for Naples,” Tierney said. “It’s going to be a different town. It already is.”

The Syren

In fact, more upscale restaurants are already lining up to open in 2024, so expect consecutive years of top dining news in the city. However, trying to pin down opening dates for the new places has been exacerbated by supply chain, construction, permitting and staffing issues.

Tierney is adding to his restaurant portfolio with the launch of The Syren next month in Old Naples. “It’s definitely going to be the month of February,” he said, noting that the waterfront seafood restaurant was nearly ready to open when it was damaged by flooding from Hurricane Ian. “It set us back tremendously.”

The Syren, coming to the former Wharf Tavern Restaurant & Lobster House at 909 10th St. S., christened its namesake yacht a year ago on Naples Bay and since added The Syrenette to its fleet. The Syren and Syrenette, which offer intimate dinner, cocktail and sunset voyages, are moored in slips in front of the restaurant. The Syren will serve cuisine focusing on seasonal regional and international seafood.

Le Colonial will be an obvious standout. Known for its celebration of the flavors and spirit of Saigon in the 1920s, the French-Vietnamese restaurant is planning to open this fall on Fifth Avenue South. The iconic upscale brand is building a more than 6,500-square-foot dining destination in a redeveloped downtown space at 445 Fifth Ave. S. that formerly was the longtime home of Bellini Italian restaurant, Citrus seafood restaurant and Paddy Murphy’s Irish Pub.

Naples will join Le Colonial’s stunning lineup in Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, San Francisco and Lake Forest, Illinois. Another one is set to open this month in Delray Beach and others are planned next year in Denver and Scottsdale.

Le Colonial attracts a loyal following because of its beautifully presented, authentic dishes, but also for its unique ambience. Named as one of the most beautiful restaurant interiors in the world, the Naples restaurant is being designed by Chicago-based Knauer Inc., which also recently designed Ocean Prime, Del Mar and The Vine Room on Fifth Avenue South.


LoLa 41, described as an upscale, neo-global bistro and sushi bar, also will be built to impress in a large downtown space. Last fall, LoLa 41 Restaurant Naples LLC leased more than 5,000 square feet of retail space with an additional 1,844-square-foot courtyard at 560 Ninth St. S., which abuts the municipal parking garage. It’s in a new three-story building recently built on the site of a former Tamiami Trailways bus station founded 60 years ago on that corner of Sixth Avenue South just south of Four Corners. The original one-story building had been home to many other local businesses over the years until demolished for redevelopment in 2015.

LoLa 41’s cuisine and ambiance surely will be an upgrade from the old Bus Station Restaurant. LoLa is short for longitude and latitude while 41 is the specific latitudinal location for the flagship LoLa 41 in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Its eclectic décor, cuisine and cocktails are influenced by the regions of Asia, Europe and the United States traversed by the 41st parallel. Building on its locations in Nantucket and West Palm Beach, LoLa 41’s third chic hot spot is targeted to open this spring in Naples.

PJK Neighborhood Chinese

PJK Neighborhood Chinese restaurant is being readied for an early February launch in the former space of Ristorante Ciao, which closed in 2021 after a 34-year run at 835 Fourth Ave. S., a block north of Fifth Avenue South. PJK’s a new creation from Paul Fleming, the name behind well-known restaurants such as P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.

Within the shell of the old brick building, the downtown space was gutted for the new restaurant, which will have a full bar and outdoor seating. Expect familiar mom-and-pop Chinese dishes with some contemporary takes on classics and even a coastal influence, said consulting Chef Paul Muller, who has been working with PJK Chef Kayla Pfeiffer, most recently chef at Bar Tulia in Mercato.

“We want to have a price point and a menu that really lends itself to satisfying a lot of needs. So, it can be a place where people come in off the beach or have a business lunch,” said Colleen Dunavan, president of the Naples-based restaurant group. “This is one of what we hope to be many restaurants.”

Dishes are being created and polished in the former spot of Bill’s Cafe, which is being used as a research-and-development test kitchen for Fleming restaurants. Before the end of the year, that small space at 947 Third Ave. N. also will become its own restaurant, Pablo’s Authentic Taqueria, which will feature a simple menu of Mexican fare such as carne asada, carnitas and tinga tacos with sides of guacamole, queso and salsa made from traditional recipes curated by Muller.


Outside of the city, Naples residents Paul Fleming and his wife, Jody Goodenough-Fleming, CEO of Paul Fleming Restaurants, have expansion plans for their Lake Park Diner concept. New freestanding locations are planned this spring on Bonita Beach Road in Bonita Springs and near the end of the year in Founders Square at Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard.

Milos Ljubenovic, who has operated Mediterrano on 13th Avenue South for eight years, is launching a second restaurant across the street in a large freestanding space that has been vacant since damage from Hurricane Irma forced Le Lafayette French restaurant to relocate five years ago. Expect Ocean Garden, a seafood-centric Mediterranean restaurant, to open soon in the renovated downtown space at 375 13th Ave. S., just east of Third Street South.

Sava, a sister property of neighboring Sails Restaurant, is targeted to open near the end of the year by the same local restaurateurs — Veljko Pavicevic and Corrine Ryan — in adjoining downtown space that formerly was a dental office at 303 Fifth Ave. S. Sava takes its name and inspiration from Pavicevic’s Montenegrin grandmother. “We are building a house that resembles my grandma’s house,” he said. Nevertheless, expect the same level of service with a more family-style, shareable concept focusing on natural ingredients with an indoor-outdoor bar and full-service restaurant.

Before opening Sava, the same Sails team also soon plans to launch Butcher, a private, members-only business social club in the former Agave restaurant space in North Naples.

JWines is targeted to open an aviation-themed wine bar this quarter in the FortyOneTen Design Park, where they leased a 1,486-square-foot unit last summer in the building behind Grappino Italian restaurant on the corner of U.S. 41 and First Avenue North. With their wines, charcuterie, small bites and special events, the 7J7 Sky Lounge at 950 First Ave. N., Unit 950-A, will offer an experience inspired by aviation hospitality from its swankiest era.

“Not just another bottle of wine but an immersion of aviation décor featuring wines and microbreweries from the Willamette Valley in Oregon,” said Jason James, owner of JWines and a captain at American Airlines, where he has flown for nearly 25 years.

Unidos, a Latin American kitchen and bar, is coming to the combined former longtime spaces of Starbucks coffee shop and Valento’s Pizza & Hoagies on the corner of U.S. 41 and Central Avenue. The new 5,625-square-foot space at 1 Ninth St. S. will have a full bar and indoor and outdoor seating. Restaurateurs Salvador and Jaime Muñoz, who also operate the Unidad Latin restaurant in a Chicago suburb, are behind Unidos, Spanish for United.

Warren American Whiskey Kitchen

Shooting for a late-spring launch, Warren American Whiskey Kitchen will anchor The Collective, 111 10th St. S., in Suites 104 and 106 on either side of the design hub’s ground-floor courtyard. The north side of the hospitality concept will feature a public restaurant with a scratch kitchen and a lounge with a world-class whiskey collection, while the smaller south side will be home to Warren’s Cocktail Club, a private members-only space in Naples Design District.

Warren’s ingredient-driven menu will focus on contemporary American cuisine, fusing flavors from around the world with a spin on traditional American dishes. Operated by Damn Good Hospitality Group, Warren has a sister location in Delray Beach on Florida’s east coast.

We’re hearing many other ventures planned in the city that can’t be confirmed yet, but we do know it will be a year for the addition of some popular chain restaurants at Coastland Center mall. Twin Peaks and Bahama Breeze are both expected to break ground soon on two vacant outparcels on either side of CMX CinéBistro along Golden Gate Parkway. Meanwhile, Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen will open this quarter in the mall’s food court.

Look for information in the next few weeks on more new regional dining opportunities coming this year.


The “Tim Aten Knows” weekly column answers local questions from readers. Email Tim at Follow him on social media: @TimAtenKnows on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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