With my most recent blog, I left off with the promise of even more breaking news, which is happening seemingly on a daily basis during this busy, busy season.
First, kudos to all those associated with the Naples Winter Wine Festival. In case you haven’t heard, the January 24-26 event raised $13.5 million for the children of Southwest Florida. Highlights were the winning bid of $450,000 for what promises to be a magnificent trip to Israel; $750,000 for a brand new model Rolls Royce; and a $900,000 winning bid by driving legend Roger Penske, for a smoking-hot Lamborghini. It was another display of dipping into very deep pockets for the deserving children in Collier County who benefit from the programs of the Naples Children & Education Foundation.
Moving on to a completely different topic: Bob and I have taken shooting lessons in the past, and it was quite an experience. I am not a big fan of guns, but wanted to give shooting a try, so we put ourselves in the hands of excellent teachers, Michelle and Brian Jones, the owners of the Altair Gun Club in the Everglades. As a result of our lessons and spending some time at Altair with Brian and Michelle, we learned a great deal, including how many folks in Southwest Florida have an interest in guns—and in shooting practice. This is becoming even more apparent, now that Naples is on the cusp of having two new indoor shooting ranges. You may have seen one of them being built on Vanderbilt Beach Road, next to Agave Bar & Grill. It will be named The Alamo. The second range is the Naples Gun Range & Emporium and will open off Mercantile Avenue near Livingston Road. It will be interesting to see how these two new businesses fare in Collier County.
In case you had not noticed, the Pavilion Shopping Center in North Naples is making some major changes. What used to be the U.S. Post Office is in the process of becoming Home Decor by Joanne. KC’s American Bistro has doubled in size, and it needed to—the place was always crowded with a waiting list to get in. The Pad Thai restaurant is gone and a new pizza and sub place called Crust is taking its place. And just around the corner, the second location of the very popular Inca’s Kitchen will occupy the former China Pavilion space; as of now, plans are to open in the spring. The theater in the Pavilion is going through major construction and transformation in order to compete with Silverspot Cinema at Mercato, and plans call for an opening in April or May.
Speaking of Mercato, the new Yoga Loft Naples will open, in addition to three new restaurants. One is the Rusty Bucket, which will be right next to Bravo. CAVO, an upscale eatery, which has a connection to Rocky Patel, will be just across the walkway from Burn by Rocky Patel. Finally, 345 Café Italiano, will be across Strada Place from the coffeehouse Second Cup.
At the Marketplace at Pelican Bay, one rather exciting change has taken place. One of our favorite breakfast and lunch places, Lulu B’s, is now serving dinner—EARLY dinner—from 4 to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. And Lulu B’s has started a Happy Hour, from 2 to 4 p.m. Now that’s early. The dinner menu includes comfort food favorites—liver and onions, a full turkey dinner and fish fry, to name a few. Here is the great part: it’s conveniently located, the dress code is very casual and its Wine & Dine Special includes a complete dinner and a glass of wine for $12.99. Walking into Lulu B’s feels like walking into a malt shop of the Happy Days era … one would expect Fonzie to walk in the door at any moment. If you go, I hope you get a chance to meet the delightful owner, Jeri. Not only is she a sweetheart, but she has the most unique hair color—purple.
See you next time—for more late-breaking news!