Texas Roadhouse has opened and the word got around quickly! They opened on Monday and since then they have had 45-minute wait time to get in. I think every restaurant should see how eagerly new restaurants are received, and also realize we need some upscale restaurants to add to the mix. We have two restaurants between Airport Road and Collier Boulevard that are “white tablecloth” restaurants: 21 Spices and Eurasia…both outstanding restaurants and always, always busy. When you think of the intersection of 951/41 – just think: 10,000 well-heeled people live in Lely Resort alone! Then you add to the mix: Treviso Bay, Isles of Collier Preserve, Eagle Creek, Fiddler’s Creek, Forest Glen, Naples Lakes Country Club, Verona Walk, Winding Cypress, Naples Reserve, and so many more right in that close proximity, PLUS you have Marco Island loving to eat at new places, Isles of Capri waiting for more, Golden Gate Estates who are now building very expensive homes on huge lots, plus all of the other places you see as you look left and right. I am talking to everyone and anyone who works in the Shopping Center Industry to let them know what they have awaiting them if they’d bring in some wonderful restaurants. Let’s just hope they are listening. It’s right there! The Skillets never had plans to come to the area, but thanks to Brian Stock, Skillets took a chance, and his manager now tells me it is the busiest store in their family of Skillet’s! Now we need a Fleming’s Steakhouse or something in that category. They’ll be happy they came our way.
The Naples Outlet Center (new name for the old outlet mall) on Collier Boulevard is looking pretty good already. Hopefully they keep that pace and finish the center and the landscaping. I took a ride through there the other day to look at all the stores and I was surprised to see so many already. I took a picture of each one so I could mention them in this column, so here goes: Sas Shoe Factory (I didn’t even know we had a shoe store in the area!), Kitchen Collections, Swim Mart, Bass Outlet, Ann Taylor, Loft Outlet, Samsonite, Bon Worth, Rack Room Shoes, L’Eggs, Hanes, Bali & Playtex women’s wear, Van Heusen and Izod Men’s & Women’s Wear, Coach Factory, 5th Ave., Flowers of Marco, Hair Palace, Vineyard Vines, Whalehouse, Genesis Day Spa & Wellness, Stern’s Fashion Jewelry. These are the ones I took pictures of so I could tell you they are there. I know they are trying to secure a couple restaurants, and they are hoping to see more stores sign on as time moves along.
Have you noticed the license plates this year from other states? We always have Ohio (my home state) and Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania – the heart of the Midwest, but I’ve seen cars from Montana, Wyoming, Utah, California and four of them from Alaska! They don’t usually come this way to vacation. Also, we are getting more and more people from the East Coast – lots of Massachusetts and Maine, New Hampshire, Delaware, Rhode Island and Maryland. People from this coast used to vacation on the East Coast of Florida, but we see more and more coming over to our coast. I don’t blame them! It is so beautiful, and we have so much land in preservation that people cherish and love to enjoy and explore. Not many other places in Florida have 78% of their land in preservation, NEVER to be built on! I even saw two Hawaii license plates! It’s been a good year, but a busy year. Most of us year ‘rounders stay a little closer to home during this high volume-traffic time of year, but we still go to all of the exhibits, plays, entertainment, events, etc. When our winter residents/visitors leave, we crawl out and begin to support the restaurants during the summer that we didn’t get to as often during the winter.
Pickleball is coming up soon! You should see the remarkable additions that have been made to America’s best pickleball park in East Naples (on Thomasson Drive). They are just building an enormous shade structure over the tournament courts and it’s amazing to see that huge crane and labyrinth as it is built. Drive down there and see for yourself. It’s hard to pull away because it is so fascinating.
Thanks to Mike Trephan, the Marines just held their 13th annual “Honor the Free Press” luncheon, and honored “60 Minutes” for 50 years of outstanding reporting. What a humbling experience to be surrounded by so many notable CBS television people, including Phil Beuth, one of the creators for “Good Morning America,” Bob Orr, CBS news anchor, retired, and the featured speaker Jeff Fager, executive producer of “60 Minutes!” Also sitting in the audience were Larry Doyle, CBS – Iraq, General and Mary Lou Mead, Phil Jones, retired CBS, and even Suzi Weinert, the creator and writer of the “Garage Sale Mysteries” series playing now on the Hallmark Movies & Mystery channel. This is one luncheon I will never forget!