Tropic Chill Deli has been one of Naples’ most popular breakfast and lunch spots for the past 22 years. Taking over on the cusp of season might have been intimidating for some, but not for Donna Hindes. “My parents had restaurants all their lives in Chicago,” says Hindes, who came on board last December. “I was washing beer glasses behind the bar at the age of 5.”
Part of Tropic Chill’s success can be attributed to its attention to detail. The deli meats are delivered daily from Thumann’s in New Jersey; Cusano’s Bakery in Coconut Creek ships in bread every day; and Oakes Farms supplies the fresh produce. The other part of the equation is a personal touch: Hindes gets to know what regulars want, and their food is frequently ready even before they order.
“Everyone who comes here for the first time falls in love with the place,” she says. “We’re fortunate here in Naples to have a clientele that understands differences in quality, and we’re able to get to know them even if they’re only here for four months.”
The menu is both encyclopedic and eclectic, combining the best of Midwestern and New York deli traditions. Best sellers include the Reuben and Cuban sandwiches, as well as the grilled Italian sub stuffed with ham, capicola, salami, and provolone.
With long-term employees (the two cooks have logged 10 and 20 years, respectively) feeding as many as 200 customers a day in season, working at Tropic Chill is a labor of love. One tradition that has survived more than two decades is serving guests a small portion of ice cream, sorbet, or sherbet. “That way they leave with a sweet taste to remember us by.”