When Vin DePasquale opened the eatery in 1976, Crayton Cove wasn’t yet a household name. His first advertising campaign was “I bet you can’t find us,” with prizes doled out to the lucky explorers who did. Over the years, however, The Dock has become firmly rooted in the community. DePasquale and company started the Great Dock Canoe Race, now run by the Naples Junior Chamber, and helped organize the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.
DePasquale also befriended Doug Traina, who approached him last year about buying the restaurant. They eventually worked out a deal, although DePasquale will retain ownership of Riverwalk in Tin City. He’ll also stay on as a consultant to mentor Traina’s son Daniel in the fine points of running a complicated restaurant.
“I probably couldn’t have designed a better exit strategy,” says DePasquale. “I wasn’t ready to retire completely. And the Traina family will need some advice on how to manage a high-volume establishment with virtually no storage space. They’re very sincere about keeping the flavor of the place exactly the way it is.”
For residents and tourists alike, The Dock is far more than a restaurant or watering hole with a great view. “We have employees who have been here for 40 years,” DePasquale says. “And we’re on a first-name basis with many of our customers. Over time, we’ve become part of the fabric of Naples.”