As readers proclaimed in online comments last week, the seasonal closing of Naples restaurants has begun. At least four more recently closed. But more eateries are planning to open.
Latitude Fusion Cuisine
Q: Latitudes Restaurant? Any word on what will be next up at that location?
— Tom Rosen, North Naples
A: On April 15, owners Marc and Britta Schulze say they temporarily closed Latitude to change the restaurant's concept, staff and probably its name, but details about the future restaurant are still under wraps.
"We are remodeling the restaurant for about three weeks. As soon as we have more news, we'll contact you," said an email sent April 19 from Marc Schulze.
The email also confirmed that Chef Ross Peterson, who opened Latitude Fusion Cuisine restaurant and piano bar with the Schulzes a year ago, is no longer working for the couple, effective April 15. On that same date, bartender Jessica Shea Reynolds said all of Latitude's employees were laid off unexpectedly by the owners.
Peterson, formerly of area restaurants Roy's, Syrah and Trilogy, was one of Latitude's four managing partners. He created Latitude's menu, described as a Florida fusion of international flavors and products from different cuisines.
Latitude's closing, three days shy of its first anniversary, is the third strike in four years for that 7,000-square-foot location in the Naples Walk shopping center, 2500 Vanderbilt Beach Road.
The space was the former site of Paul Sturkey's Encore until 2008 and Cafe Italia Ristorante from January 2010 to March 2011.
Q: I was planning on going to BeiJing (on U.S. 41 just south of Immokalee Road) for lunch as I do every other week or so, only to find a sign taped to the door that said they were closed. Something about the building being sold, or something. I lived on their pepper chicken and will miss really them. Some people might have found it to be kind of rundown-looking, but I loved it. Any chance you can find out if they will reopen somewhere else? Thanks! I'm totally BUMMED!
— Joe Turner, Naples
A: Sorry, Joe. Beyond the note on the door of The BeiJing, which doesn't give the impression that its operators plan to open the longtime restaurant elsewhere locally, I could not find much more.
The unsigned letter, dated April 17, reads: "Dear Customer: We will be closed due to the building was sold. It's been a pleasure serving you! Thank you!"
The BeiJing, a traditional Chinese restaurant which featured an all-day buffet, served local diners for more than 10 years at 10975 U.S. 41 N. in North Naples.
The half-acre parcel on the corner of 110th Avenue was purchased in January for $625,000, according to data on the Collier County Property Appraiser's website.
The owner of the property is listed as Roger J. Jusseaume, who could not be reached for comment regarding the future use of the property.
Before becoming The BeiJing in late 2001, the 2,500-square-foot building was home to a string of other local restaurants: The Greens of Naples, Cafe Meron, Loquat's, and Mustards.
More recently closed restaurants
■ Taste of Chicago, 2366 Immokalee Road, recently closed after operating for slightly more than a year in North Naples' Green Tree Center. The sandwich shop, specializing in Chicago-style hot dogs, made menu tweaks and changed its hours and days open in an unsuccessful effort to attract more business. The space, sandwiched between Naples Olive Oil Co. and Em-On's Thai Cafe, was previously home to Havanas Cuban Cafe and Grill for about eight years. The closed restaurant is not affiliated with Augustina's A Taste of Chicago locations in East Naples.
■ Bajio Mexican Grill closed at the end of March after operating for more than two years in the Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt, 2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road No. 158, North Naples. This location was the last local spot for the small, Utah-based chain, which previously operated at least three other Naples locations.
■ Let's Yo! yogurt shop is projected to open this weekend in the Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt,2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road #186, North Naples. Customers pay 49 cents an ounce for their self-serve creations using multiple frozen yogurt flavors and toppings.
The first 20 locations for Let's Yo are in New Jersey, with Florida stores set to open in Naples and Miami. Expect "a hip and social environment" with new flavors such as cherry limeade, cupcake, rocky road and lemon ice box pie, according to the company's website.
■ Naples Flatbread & Wine Bar is opening its third area location in the former home of Piola at Mercato in North Naples. Naples Flatbread also has locations at 6434 Naples Blvd. in North Naples and in Miromar Outlets in Estero.
The menu features Neapolitan pizza and Tuscan flatbreads, gourmet macaroni and cheese, grilled panini sandwiches on artisan bread, and hearth-baked pasta dishes.
The wine bar features 30 varieties by the glass and a variety of beers. A gluten-free menu also is available.
■ Grace & Shelly's Cupcakes is opening soon next to Chipotle Mexican Grill at Mercato.
The quickly expanding local cupcake business opened its fourth location April 6 in Coconut Point in Estero. It also has two other locations in Naples and one in the Fort Myers area.
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"In the Know" is published Mondays and Wednesdays in the Naples Daily News. Find a complete archive of "In the Know" columns at naplesnews.com/intheknow.