When Ben Allen’s Backyard Grill & Pub opened in June, it brought a new dimension to East Naples. The restaurant, a partnership between the country singer and local restaurateur Todd Brooks, occupies the former Brooks Burgers location in Freedom Square and evolved from a relationship between the two men over the years.
“We wanted a relaxed venue where people could hang out, enjoy some good food, and stay for the music,” explains Brooks. “We offer live music Wednesday through Sunday nights, and feature reggae, rock, blues, and soul in addition to open-mic nights and performances by the Ben Allen Band.”
Brooks’ influence can be felt in the kitchen, which is under the supervision of chef Chris Butterfield. Everything is made from scratch, and the menu ranges from standards such as pizza and burgers to smoked brisket, St. Louis–style ribs, and chicken pot pie with homemade biscuits. There are 26 beers on tap, and a constantly expanding whiskey list with dozens of small-batch selections is also on offer.
One unique aspect of the restaurant is the back- yard area, complete with a bar, pool tables, and a 10-by-6-foot TV screen for watching sporting events. There’s also a trailer-mounted stage that can be used for larger bands to create a concert-feel.
Despite his success as a country artist and as a contestant on The Voice, Allen keeps a low profile at his Estero home and remains humble and unassuming. “My name may be on it, but it’s not a shrine to Ben Allen,” he says. “It’s not about self-promotion, but about promoting music.”