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Culinary options are expanding in Ave Maria, a fast-growing, master-planned community east of Golden Gate Estates in Collier County. 

Vicky Bakery 

A longtime Ave Maria resident and restaurateur is bringing the first Vicky Bakery franchise to Southwest Florida. 

Phong Ho plans to open Vicky Bakery in Ave Maria’s Town Center in mid-April. Ho first opened Tropical Smoothie Cafe nearby and then Teriyaki Madness, which was replaced two years ago by Oasis the Kitchen Lounge, which he also co-owns with restaurateur Michael Jaenvega. 

Ho’s latest venture plans to serve the town’s breakfast needs and provide more options to residents and visitors. Vicky Bakery, a family-owned Cuban pastry shop founded in Miami in 1972, has more than 25 locations in Florida. Ho describes the company as well-run and its pastries as light and full of flavor. 

Phong Ho standing in front of his Vicky Bakery in Ave Maria“When I talked to the family, bringing Vicky to Ave made sense,” he said. “They wanted to make sure I was committed, and the product is great. When I did my homework, I realized how many fans they have. One resident said to me, ‘I would die for a Vicky at Ave.’” 

Ho also plans to offer catering, delivering baked goods to schools, local businesses, clubhouses, events and surrounding communities. The new Vicky Bakery will open soon at 5076 Annunciation Circle, Suite 102, with a staff of 20 to 25. 

Vicky Bakery already participated in the annual Taste of Ave early last month, joining the town’s existing food-and-beverage venues: The Bean, CJ’s Pastelillos, Meltz, Mercato at Ave, Oasis the Kitchen Lounge, Oil Well Craft Beer, The Pub & Grill and Tropical Smoothie. 

Blue Agave Mexican Restaurant 

Interior construction work recently was completed for Blue Agave Mexican Restaurant, which is targeted to open in early April in the former locations of Lozano’s Mexican Restaurant and Gino’s Trattoria Per Tutti in Ave Maria’s Town Center.  

Lozano’s operated for three years in Ave Maria before closing last fall. Lozano’s still operates its original location in Immokalee, which the Lozano family has owned for more than 25 years. 

Allan and Ruby Garcia, owners and founders of A&R Builders of SWFL, started remodeling work at the former Lozano’s in Ave Maria late December. They removed the wall with an archway that divided the dining space and removed the bar area to build a more modern bar. The former multicolored casual eatery has been transformed into a stunning upscale restaurant. 

“It’s going to be a modern restaurant serving authentic Mexican food,” Blue Agave co-owner Allan Garcia said. 

It’s not the Garcias first venture into creating and serving fresh, authentic Mexican dishes. The family has operated Juanita’s Authentic Mexican Restaurant for many years in Immokalee. Juanita and her husband, Rutilio Garcia, came to Immokalee from Mexico more than 30 years ago. Their children, Allan and Ruby, now operate their restaurant and construction businesses. 

Blue Agave, a 2,500-square-foot corner restaurant that includes a full bar and outdoor patio, is expected to open soon at 5080 Annunciation Circle, units 106-107. Jobs for chefs, servers and bartenders were posted online starting in early November. 

Midtown Plaza 

The shell of the new Midtown Plaza has taken shape in Ave Maria Park of Commerce on the corner of Ave Maria Boulevard and Anthem Parkway, about a mile south of Town Center. 

Ave Maria Development’s new 21,000-square-foot commercial center will be home to a few eateries when it opens later this year. Ledo Pizza, Dunkin’ and Cold Stone Creamery will join anchors Sunshine Ace Hardware and NCH Immediate Care Center there. 

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