Hot Dish

Hot Dish: July 9, 2008

BY July 9, 2008
Inside the Gulfshore’s Dining Scene.

Sur La Table Coming to Mercato

in North Naples will be welcoming Sur la Table in the fall. It is a nationwide, medium- to high-end chain offering a bountiful assortment of kitchen and cookery accessories, including high-end cookware, cutlery, barware, BBQ implements and varied electronic gadgets, as well as simple items such as whisks and Bundt pans. They offer frequent cooking lessons and housewares, from ironing boards to furniture!
It’s truly a “kid in the candy store” experience for cooks. I have spent hours checking out their wares in other stores and leave with arms full! They will specifically be competition for  Naples’ national chain Williams-Sonoma  and local family-owned The Good Life. They are not competition for Fort Myers’ Chef’s Warehouse, which targets more commercial clients.
Dave Schwarz, co-owner of The Good Life, welcomes Sur la Table, noting, “We’ve been around a long time, and our customers are loyal. If a cook needs something today, and we don’t have it, we are happy to refer them immediately to whichever store in town may have the item, as a service. We have found that places like Williams-Sonoma or Macy’s reciprocate as well.” He welcomes Sur la Table as possible competition for the increased traffic they will bring to the area and believes: “Both will benefit.”

Gasparilla’s Grill Makes Way for Biddle’s Bucket


Interior of Biddle’s Bucket

Biddle’s Bucket has replaced Gasparilla’s Grill and the attached Pearl private dining room in Bailey’s Center on Sanibel Island. The new restaurant concentrates strongly on fresh seafood offered in a family atmosphere complete with a game room for kids. With a $12.99 crunchy grouper basket, gator for $11.99, and a seafood platter with grouper, plump fried oysters and succulent shrimp for $19.99, the place was filling up on Saturday for its second day open. Both co-owner Brenda Biddle (of Biddle’s Restaurant in Fort Myers) and executive chef Bruno Ferreyra were on hand to welcome all. Biddle’s Bucket is on the corner of Tarpon Bay and Periwinkle, Sanibel Island, (239) 472-2380.

Executive chef Bruno Ferreyra and co-owner Brenda Biddle at Biddle’s Bucket

River District Loses Patio 33


Our Hot Dish blogger enjoys one last dinner at Patio 33 with girlfriend Pamela Newman.

Patio 33 closed Wednesday, July 2, after serving as an oasis of great food and live entertainment in Fort Myers’ River District. It opened Oct. 5, 2006, and was a major draw to the River District, offering chef/co-owner Denis Meurgue’s French twist on the delightful, rich cuisine. The restaurant was very successful in its first year, before the barricades of redevelopment greatly hindered car and pedestrian access.

Interior of Patio 33

Co-owners Stacey Trippe and Roger Mercado, Jr. offered live music in the ample, yet hidden, Patio de Leon and developed a loyal following. So why the closure? Roger says, “It was a combination of the pace of the district’s redevelopment, the drop in the economy and the summer slump.” Saturday before closing, there were two outdoor bands, and the upstairs bar was filled with patrons and well-wishers. A few days before closing, we dined on chef Meurgue’s tender duck with an ethereally light plum sauce, the slow-cooked pork shoulder and a lemon mousse. Combined with the energy from two live bands in the plaza, it only heightened the sense of loss.

They sent out a farewell note thanking those who supported Patio 33 and stating that they still believe in the redevelopment efforts of the River District. “We have enjoyed the company you have provided for almost two years, and our staff and owners are grateful for the lunches, dinners and drinks you have shared with us.” 

What’s next for Roger, Stacey, Denis and the wonderful servers? No plans so far. We shall see what unfolds.
Although they aren’t restaurants, the closure of two nightclubs is also affecting the vibrancy of the River District for surrounding businesses. EnVie Lounge closed June 28th after celebrating its third anniversary in March. The popular high-end dance club will soon reopen under new management with a new concept, according to DJ and manager Lukas Jiranek. Level nightclub on Hendry Street, which opened in January 2007, also recently closed. Most merchants feel that when the redevelopment is complete, and as fall follows the summer doldrums, other businesses—including more restaurants—will open and reopen in this beautiful area.

Related Images: