Editorial: A Force of Nature and Celebration Park
We’re oh-so-taken with that force of nature down on Bayshore Drive in Naples—our cherished Naples Botanical Garden. Well, attention, Southwest Florida: There’s another force of nature on Bayshore named Rebecca Maddox, currently the proprietor of the cozy, cool Three60 Market dining spot. And one reason she makes this issue featuring the New & Hot is her plan to create what she calls Celebration Park right next door to Three60.
Imagine maybe 14 food trucks, Rebecca says, some cooking ethnic foods like Indian or Lebanese fare, others offering basics like pizza. “We especially want to serve up fresh stuff you don’t get much of here at moderate prices,” she says. “Bring in fresh fish. Have a grill for cooking seafood. There’ll be craft beers and wines by the glass. Strolling musicians. Maybe an artist once a week who can paint portraits of your pets. I see this as a destination experience, especially for locals.” Rebecca has been working for three years to realize this vision and had hoped for shovels in the ground by September. But then came the furies of Hurricane Irma that very month, and at press time Rebecca was still waiting for the required permits to get this enterprise going.
She grew up in Ohio and New Jersey and after high school entered a convent to become a nun. “I was OK with the vows of chastity and obedience, but poverty was beyond my ability,” Rebecca says, laughing. She graduated from Penn State, got an MBA from Columbia University, and completed a two-year program at the University of Pennsylvania for executives on human dynamics and management. Rebecca runs on passion with a keen eye on making profits. The first part of her career was in finance, banking and insurance. “Anything to do with money,” she says.
She started consulting companies, served on public boards, wrote books on women starting businesses and on marketing to women. Rebecca gave speeches all over the world, getting $25,000 to $50,000 per outing. Then one day in Palm Springs, California, about to go on stage to address 1,000 people, she recalls, “I thought, ‘I now have to go out there and smile. I can’t do this anymore.’” She never made another speech.
Down here, Rebecca started a business with her brother Tom—Pinkhouse Properties—buying and selling homes. Then, five years ago, she discovered a dilapidated building with cool possibilities on Bayshore. She had it gutted and re-done. “It was 2,000 square feet, and the revenue we get out of Three60 is far beyond anything I could have imagined,” she says. “Customers seem to especially love our tomato pie, mussels and giant cookies. We’re the joint on Bayshore, like Cheers, where everybody knows your name. We have a lot of regulars, and we share the ups and downs of our lives with each other.
“With our wines, we charge $3.60 over price for every bottle, so you get some very good deals. People drive down from Bonita to buy cases from us. Then maybe they’ll have a sandwich, too, on the way out. Just as those eating in the place will pick up a bottle or two on the way out.”
In the center of it all is this retirement-age high-octane entrepreneur, who can laugh at herself and tell some grand tales from a lifetime of adventures. She remembers as a naive 20-something in New York once ordering moo shu pork in a Chinese restaurant and thinking the pancakes were napkins. She got quite a few stares, she says, after wiping her hands and mouth with the pancakes. Perhaps the most defining story she tells, though, took place in Virginia 25 years ago.
Her brother Brian persuaded her to join him in a Ride Virginia bike event where you cover 300 miles in five days. The second day was 90 miles on a hot July day. “About 20 miles in,” Rebecca recalls, “Brian, thinking I will never be able to finish, asked if I minded if he rode on ahead and suggested I could get the trailing bus to the hotel when I’d had enough riding. He was convinced I’d be at the pool sipping a drink when he finished the ride.” She wasn’t and he panicked, calling the police, their parents and the hospital thinking something had happened to her. In fact, she was out there for 13 hours, often thinking of quitting, but finishing nonetheless. Nearly dead last, but finishing. “From that day on,” Rebecca says, “my three brothers’ favorite saying about me was, ‘Don’t count Sis out.’”
Which brings us back to Celebration Park. Any doubts Sis can bring it to the finish line? Rev up your appetite.