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Q: We had dinner at St. George and the Dragon in March and were told that the restaurant and property were up for sale. Since then, we have heard it has closed down completely. Having lived here since 1981, we are quite familiar with the history of that institution. Any more news would be much appreciated.
— Paul Picher, Naples
A: Don’t count out St. George and the Dragon just yet. The 40-year-old restaurant remains open in Naples.
Perhaps someone stopped by when the restaurant is closed Sundays and Mondays out of season? Manager Marcia Bowser said the restaurant is always closed Sunday, but from May 7 until Oct. 1, it also is closed Mondays.
True, the property is for sale by owner Marylin Ginos, but it has been for sale for quite a while. That prime downtown real estate, 1.27 acres on Fifth Avenue South near Four Corners, has been for sale for at least six months as a redevelopment parcel, said Dougall McCorkle of Premier Commercial Inc. Asking price? About $5 million.
The landmark property at 936 Fifth Ave. S. is zoned C-2, which accommodates a variety of retail and office uses, according to highlights on its Premier sales flier.
“This property is equally-ideal for either a high-profile/high-volume restaurant, or a financial or corporate headquarters. There is a three-story height limit,” the flier notes.
The property’s sale would not necessarily foretell the restaurant’s closing. The new property owner could operate the restaurant or continue to allow the operation of a restaurant there.
One of the longest-running, family owned restaurants in Naples, St. George and the Dragon is a throwback to another era. The 270-seat restaurant opened in November 1969. Stepping into the dimly lit, old-school steakhouse with British accents is almost like stepping back in time when men traditionally wore jackets to dine out.
The 10,381-square-foot building dates to the early 1950s as the former home of Baroni’s Restaurant, and later the Other Place.
St. George and the Dragon is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for lunch, and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Call 239-262-6546.
Q: Any chance you would be able to find out if Popeyes ever plans on expanding into Naples?
— Wendy, Naples
A: Although Popeyes does not have immediate plans to locate one of its fried chicken franchises in Naples, it’s a possibility.
“There’s always a chance of that. There are several people looking into that possibility,” said Phil Puzzanchera, the operations director for 10 Popeyes units, including the only Collier County location, 302 N. 15th St. in Immokalee.
Although Popeyes’ corporate office does not have information about a future location in Naples, the company plans to expand elsewhere in Florida.
“Currently, Popeyes is seeking to launch an aggressive growth plan in Tampa and Orlando (designated market areas), which have both been identified as priority markets. The brand is seeking bold, passionate, multi-unit operators to join the system and expand the brand footprint in those Florida markets,” said Kelsey Schmitt, a company spokeswoman.
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, formerly known as Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits until a rebranding a few years ago, marks its 40th anniversary this year. Popeyes, second only to KFC in that market, distances itself with a Cajun-influenced menu.
Founded in 1972 in New Orleans, Popeyes is part of Atlanta-based AFC Enterprises Inc. and has more than 2,000 restaurants in the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico, the Cayman Islands and 26 foreign countries.
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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.