Monday, December 31, 2007

Restaurant Best and Worst of 2007

2007 was a rough time for many SW Florida restaurants, with a few closings. Most notable was that of Naples' Margaux's, which had been in business for some 24 years. Other closings included Neumann's Deli, the Chicken Grill by NCH, Il Bellagio (with Brazilian Grill Room replacing it, with a $39, then $24 prix fixe steak dinner), Pippin's ( a 20+ year veteran), Patric's, EB's (Eric Batales- by Olive Garden), and Naples Melting Pot. 5th Ave South's Zoe's quickly became Trilogy. Sanibel Steakhouses took a double hit, with both the Naples and the Bonita Springs outposts closing, the Bonita location becoming Cozze's for a brief time, now to be Angelina's-some say this and the Ship's locations are jinxed. Petite Syrah became Lisbon Nights, surviving on Roy's overflow briefly, and luckily Chrissie's took over the spot for great breakfast/brunch.
Bonita lost a higher percentage of restaurants with Duval Street Seafood and Danny Mellman's Bonita Bistro closing; Danny is still catering, and Duval Street did reopen many months later, in 1/08. Bonita's Bo Lings Dim Sum's closing was a big loss for the community; Cilantro Tamale and Toucan Grill closed their doors, although Wyld's Cafe is opening Crust at Toucan's site. All is not well even there, as Wyld's is offering a 20% off coupon via their website, in January '08. Times are tough.
Fort Myers lost O'Sullivan's, Hurricane Harry's and Foxfire Grill, Haneys died.
Far more new heavily funded chain restaurants opened at the megamalls, contributing in large part to the decreased traffic at the smaller, less glitzy locations. Blu Sushi and 55 Degrees opened at the Gulf Coast mall, amidst a host of faceless others.

Naples added Gaja Ristorante where Il Posto was, off 3rd Street, providing competition, quality wise, for Campiellos. Jaegerhaus offers German cuisine. Blue Provence is hanging in there, offering appetizer, entree, and a glass of wine for $21.95 in January, 08 everyday, from 5-6 pm.

Fort Myers noted Dwyers rebirth, Sanibel's Gasparilla's upgrades, and Sandy Butler has been a success. The area added several South American steakhouses. Fort Myers retains its dining delights with Cru and Yabo. Toro, run by Jerome Sanchez and Mark Luth in June, 07, despite tasty Spanish food, already flopped, and has been taken over by Cru's Shannon Yates, putting his brand new staff in January, 08).

Go out to eat tonight at a non-chain restaurant, and make it a better New Year for you and others.

Here's to a Happy and Healthy New Year!

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