Both restaurants have been rebuilt from scratch, after being flooded with more than 50 inches of water during the hurricane. “We lost every bit of our cooking equipment and all of our coolers in the back. Every wall had to be ripped out and fully rebuilt,” said owner Skip Quillen, who has been an integral member of the Southwest Florida restaurant community for 28 years. “Basically [we’re] starting from scratch all over again.”
The team began rebuilding just one day after the storm. Quillen wanted to return to work quickly so his 300 staff members could keep their jobs. The team has been working around-the-clock to rebuild both restaurants and replace the damaged equipment. That work has been worth it, especially for the people who love the restaurant, like Chops Corporate Bar Manager Kendra Rizzi, who has worked at the legendary steakhouse since it opened in 1997.
“It’s my second home. And people love this place. It’s like their second home, too,” said Rizzi.
Quillen is ready to show the community that they can move forward together. He promises that Pazzo! and Chops in Naples will be back and fully staffed, offering a full menu and bar. . Three other Culinary Concepts restaurants, Yabba Island Grill in Naples, Chops City Grill in Bonita Springs, and The Saloon in Estero, reopened October 4.
The weeks of recovery were completed with those who work at the restaurants and those who come through the front doors in mind. “I am very proud to show the community that we can do this,” said Quillen. “It’s the community feel of Fifth Avenue South. That’s who we are. We are part of this community. And we’re glad to be back.”