The action is heating up for the new Naples season: Car carriers are arriving, and The Ritz-Carlton, Naples reopened for business on October 1—but not before a big parade to welcome back the employees the day before. Yes, a parade—complete with the Barron Collier High School Band leading the way. How cool is that! It seemed like only yesterday when the hundreds of workers arrived on-site clad in their green shirts and white hard hats to transform The Ritz in record-breaking time. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the entire process from my perch within my home in the Trieste. There is always something to see and at night the beachfront resort just seems to sparkle, as though it is happy to have had a facelift inside and out.
The number of shoppers at Publix and Whole Foods is increasing daily. Even the traffic on U.S. 41 is heavier, so it’s a return to the back roads for me—and for me to do that so early in the season is pretty amazing.
North Naples is bustling with activity. The refurbishment of the now-named Paragon Theatres in the Pavilion Shopping Center has started as has the transformation of the former China Pavilion into the second location for Inca’s Kitchen. Across U.S. 41 at Mercato, the soon-to-be-completed Nordstrom Rack has big signs in the windows announcing a grand opening on November 7. (After taking a peek through the windows, it looks like significant work needs to be done yet.) There is also a sign in the window of the space just behind TAPS that says CAVO, and the site has quite a bit of activity. The new restaurant is associated with Rocky Patel of Burn, just across the way. Next to Bravo, signs indicate that the Rusty Bucket will open there, but there’s no sign of work being done so far.
My husband, Bob, and I realized we had not been to one of our favorite restaurants, Café Lurcat, in a while so we made a point of dining there last week. The food at Lurcat is always delicious, by the way; the yellowtail snapper is the best I have ever had. On our way to Lurcat, on Fifth Avenue South, we saw the former McCabe’s has green gauze all around it and its transformation to the sleek aVenue 5 Restaurant has begun. I also noticed that work is being done nearby at the former Jolly Cricket. There have been rumors swirling about what would appear in that prime space. None of the rumors panned out or were even worth pursuing … until now. After speaking to a couple of very knowledgeable people while dining at Café Lurcat, I uncovered the most interesting news—the owner of Handsome Harry’s on Third Street South is bringing a brand new concept to Fifth Avenue South in the Jolly Cricket spot. The name of the new venue will be Hob Nob. More news later as that spot rolls out. Fifth Avenue South is certainly going to be rocking and rolling this season.
Now the question is, what else will be happening on Fifth Avenue South or even Third Street South? I have an idea—actually even better than an idea. But you are going to have to wait for that one. With Sea Salt, Barbatella, Tommy Bahama and Campiello’s firmly entrenched on Third, and the numerous restaurants on Fifth, any changes to the mix will be very exciting.