We bowed our heads to honor the sad departure of Sweet Caroline’s, a café that had been so firmly ensconced in the Naples dining scene that it made its way into The New York Times (and was thereafter known across the country for its panoply of muffins with permutations of every fruit, nut and sweet imaginable). But now the narrow space next to the Quest Diagnostics within plain view of NCH North is scheduled to get a new lease on life.
Locale Eatery (239-592-1111) is expected to launch by the end of February, and its owner (who was born and raised on Sanibel and has returned home after working for years in the restaurant business in New Jersey) has given the space an admittedly welcome refresh—wood tile flooring, a new smaller counter and more room for seats.
The menu also strays from the previous formula: It’s still breakfast and lunch with a case of fresh baked goods, but while Sweet Caroline’s sweet spot was straightforward griddle classics like two eggs over-easy, Western omelets and grilled cheese sandwiches, this new restaurant has grander designs—and we’re eager to see how they play out. At breakfast, there will be dishes like French toast from house-made pound cake with lemon curd and berries, a chorizo scramble with a heap of guacamole, avocado toast capped by ricotta, salmon Benedicts and more. For lunch, expect au courant ingredients like kale, heirloom tomatoes and crostini for build-your-own salads, along with a smoked cheddar grilled cheese on focaccia stuffed with shreds of braised short rib, a “Frenchie” burger with Gruyere and grilled onions, lobster mac and cheese, and a lemon-pepper chicken sandwich with pickles brined in-house and tater tots.