For years, East Naples residents have demanded more dining opportunities in their neck of the woods. The local community finally is hitting critical mass with some exciting new restaurant opportunities this year.
As is the case throughout Collier and south Lee counties, East Naples is not just adding restaurants; new shopping centers are being built that will be packed with new dining options.
Although few specifics are available now, here’s an idea of what to expect.
■ GRAND LELY PLAZA: A new shopping center under construction on the northwest corner of Collier Boulevard and Grand Lely Boulevard will be home to more than 47,000 square feet of offices and retail businesses, including many restaurants.
“Our plan is to deliver that in 2015,” said Claudine Leger-Wetzel, vice president of sales and marketing for Stock Development, the owner of the Lely Resort development.
Beefstro’s Gourmet Beefs and Five Guys Burgers and Fries are the first two eateries announced as coming to Grand Lely Plaza, a 9-acre project platted as Hogan Plaza.
The first two of five buildings in the plaza are targeted for completion this summer, said Steve Hovland, sales agent for Hovland Real Estate, the Naples-based firm leasing the center.
“They are going to be pouring slabs pretty quick,” Hovland said.
Beefstro’s will be one of the tenants in the largest building, a more than 15,000-sqaure-foot structure that will have other restaurants on each end with patio dining options, the site development plan shows.
“We are working on an Italian restaurant that has really good pizza and is really, really cool,” Hovland said.
Other tenant possibilities include a local breakfast-lunch restaurant, and a trendy, local lunch-dinner restaurant with a full bar and outdoor dining, Hovland said. “There’s going to be a lot of food there,” he said.
■ BERKSHIRE PLACE: Expect at least four eateries in the new retail center being built in line with the northern edge of Berkshire Commons on the northwest corner of Santa Barbara Boulevard and Radio Road.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Tropical Smoothie Café and Royal Scoop ice cream parlor will join Verizon Wireless and Regal Nails salon and three other businesses in the strip center. Starbucks coffee shop in Berkshire Commons will move to the new unit in Berkshire Place nearest Walgreen’s pharmacy and add a drive-thru.
Plan on the new businesses to start opening this summer. At 2,400 square feet each, Five Guys and Moe’s have the largest spaces, followed by a 1,900-square-foot Starbucks, an 1,800-square-foot Tropical Smoothie, and a 1,500-square-foot Royal Scoop.
■ SHOPS AT HAMMOCK COVE: The second phase of this Publix-anchored shopping center on the southwest corner of U.S. 41 East and Thomasson Drive soon will start taking shape between Foxboro Sports Tavern and the entrance to Isles of Collier Preserve. The new 12-acre section of the shopping center fronts U.S. 41 and is planned to include a half dozen new restaurants in addition to other retail stores and a possible hotel, its site plan shows.
The first restaurant to be built will be Culver’s, which now plans to begin construction in February for a targeted opening in late May, said local franchisees Mike and Vinnie Busalacchi, who opened Florida’s first Culver’s in fall 2013 in North Naples. The Wisconsin-based restaurant specializes in burgers and frozen custard.
The new 4,400-square-foot Culver’s drive-thru will be built on a 1-acre outparcel. The freestanding restaurant will include patio dining.
Although businesses have shown quite a bit of interest in the second phase of Shops at Hammock Cove, only Culver’s is confirmed to be coming at this time, said Patrick Utter, vice president of real estate for Collier Enterprises, the center’s developer.
■ DUNKIN’ DONUTS BUILDING: Chances are good that another eatery will open this year in the multi-tenant outparcel building anchored by Dunkin’ Donuts in Courthouse Shadows shopping center, said Steve Hovland of Hovland Real Estate. The 3,000-square-foot space fronting U.S. 41 East across from the Collier County Government Center will probably be leased to two tenants, Hovland said. An Italian deli and an Asian restaurant have shown interest, he said.
■ U.S. 41 EAST/ COLLIER BLVD.: The dam has finally broken at the busy intersection of U.S. 41 East and Collier Boulevard, flooding the area with commercial development plans.
A lot of uncertainty remains because many plans are still in early stages, but this corner undoubtedly has tremendous potential. Although all of the new development won’t occur this year, the plans are in place.
A sure thing is the first local drive-thru for Panera Bread taking shape on an outparcel lot in front of Fresh Market in the Shops at Eagle Creek. Construction started in November on Panera’s fifth corporate-owned location in Collier County. The nearly 4,000-square-foot cafe-bakery is targeted to open this spring.
A Starbucks drive-thru is targeted to open this fall in the first building constructed on what is being called Restaurant Row Naples, a strip fronting Collier Boulevard on either side of Freedom Square’s entrance at Triangle Boulevard.
The developer of 7 acres bordering the shopping center hopes to build as many as nine restaurants there. More news about this major project will be available this week.
Plans were recently revealed for Tamiami Crossing, the Kite Realty Group retail development on the southeast corner of the intersection.
Although restaurants are not expected to be part of the major retail strip anchored by Stein Mart, the development has four outparcel lots that have yet to be purchased.
Triangle Plaza, where Outback Steakhouse opened last April on Lely Resort property abutting Freedom Square off U.S. 41, also still has more spots earmarked for restaurants, although this additional development may not occur this year.

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Many other East Naples opportunities still remain available. Expect more restaurants eventually coming to Rattlesnake Hammock Road and Collier Boulevard and other undeveloped locations in the area.
As mentioned in a column earlier this month, Joey D’s Italian Restaurant & Bar also is opening soon on the corner of Airport-Pulling Road and Davis Boulevard in East Naples.
Columns in this four-week series in January have offered a first look at the menu of local restaurants coming in 2015, but expect many surprises yet to come. This is only the beginning.

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