Hurricane Irma update: What’s open in Cape Coral?

For more coverage of Hurricane Irma and the storm's aftermath visit: The Cape Coral Economic Development Office is monitoring who is open as the city recovers from Hurricane Irma. The agency asked members to let them know when they were back in businessIf your business is open, you may post it to the Cape Coral Economic Development Office Facebook Page or email [email protected] using the subject BUSINESS OPEN.City curfew has been rescinded.As of noon Wednesday, the following businesses are open as per direct contact and social media channels: MEDICALCape Coral Hospital is open.  The Wellness Center is closed.Lee Physicians Group on Pine Island Road, Surfside and Cape South.Med-Express,  313 SW Pine Island Road, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.Urgent Care of SWFL, 1708 Cape Coral Way W,. Suite 2, from  8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PHARMACIESCVS at 1209 South Del Prado Blvd., until 9 p.m.; and 1611 Northeast Pine Island Road until 10 p.m.Walgreens:   6 Del Prado Blvd. N., 2710 Del Prado Blvd. S., 1534 Cape Coral Parkway W., 4 NE Pine Island Road,  2409 Santa Barbara Blvd., 611 Burnt Store Road S., 805 Cape Coral Parkway E.Official said 1606 Del Prado Blvd. S. is closed until power is restored.Acology Pharmacy, 131 Del Prado Blvd. GROCERYAll Publix stores are open until 9 .p.m. All Walmart stores are open normal hours. BANKSIberia  Bank, 812 Del Prado Blvd. S. GASGas availability is a difficult item to track.  Use GasBuddy, a free app available for phones. Some media outlets are tracking gas availability. U.S. POSTAL SERVICESThe post office has resumed normal operations HOME REPAIRLowes, 285 SW 25th Lane, open until 9 p.m.RESTAURANTS (Sourced directly and through media sites)Anthony's on the BLVD, Open today. 1303 Del Prado Blvd.Bagel Factory, 3571 Del Prado Blvd N.Beef O’Brady’s,  2481 Del Prado Blvd N,  and 3015 SW Pine Island Road with a Continue Reading

Side by side: Pair of chefs reinvigorate Cape Harbour’s Fathoms

Waterside dining is a hot ticket this time of year in Southwest Florida, and Fathoms Restaurant & Bar at Cape Harbour in Cape Coral offers much more than just a view. Facing the marina, Fathoms is known for its classy casual atmosphere and creative events.Entering its third year of operation, the restaurant occupies the spot originally home to The Joint.When restaurateurs Timothy and Meredith Hoffman relocated to the Cape from the Caribbean for this new venture, one of the first things they did was open up the kitchen to make it easier for the staff to communicate and easier for the customers to see the action led by two charming French executive chefs: Ben Voisin and Fabrice Deletrain.“People like to be with the chef,” Ben says and laughs. “Back in the day in France, the chef never came out of the kitchen except to yell at the guests. With all the TV shows, people think of us as celebrities and rock stars.”Fabrice is one of many carryovers from the former restaurant.“It was an instant click. We were on the same page and pretty much have the same background,” Fabrice says, referring to himself as “the tall one.” He says now there is a “higher standard to all that we are doing.”Ben chimes in, “We come from a 5-star hotel, very focused on service and quality.”The duo gradually changed the menu, winning over regulars with new dishes while attracting more discriminating diners with events such as the seven-course monthly chef’s dinners ($105).Fathom’s menu is a potpourri of everything from American classics to sushi and Mediterranean dishes.It’s hard to resist the famous Tsunami Roll ($16). This sushi appetizer is a sweet and spicy combo of ahi tuna, krabmeat, cucumber, cream cheese and sweet chili mayo with a soy reduction. It’s enough to eat on your own, but also fun to share.The spicy garlic shrimp ($16) is another good appetizer to share. Ask your server to bring Continue Reading

Pilar’s Empanadas brings Argentina to Cape Coral, Wawa pretzels return

Pilar Correch wears her dirty-blonde hair in a low ponytail, a black apron cinched around her slight waist. She's demure and soft-spoken, until she emerges from the kitchen with a plate of her empanadas. "You must try," Correch says, beaming with confidence. "Everybody loves them."If the array of farmers markets at which she sells and the forthcoming southwest Cape Coral storefront are any indication, then she's right.Correch and her husband, Pedro, started Pilar's Empanadas Argentinas in March as a simple stand at the Cape Coral Farmers Market. In the four months since, the project has expanded to markets from Boca Grande to Fort Myers, Sanibel and Estero. Pilar's Empanadas are also sold at The Marina Club Restaurant, which the couple own in Cape Harbour, and which they'll soon transition to Pilar's first brick-and-mortar location. "Empanadas in Argentina is like pizza in the U.S.," Pedro Correch says. "You find them everywhere, all over."The Correches, both born and raised in Buenos Aires, should know. After a lifetime working on farms and ranches the couple shifted their focus to restaurants, opening five in the city of Puerto Madryn on Argentina's Patagonian coast. But the culture of corruption and bribery that Correch says is so prevalent in his home country weighed heavy on their businesses. He wanted better for his wife and their five children. "We do no accept or give bribes. After many years of struggling I decided it would be better if we move to a country where our values are shared," Pedro said. "I came to the U.S. in March 2015."By April he'd found a small, waterfront restaurant space at the west end of Cape Harbour opposite Fathoms. He changed it from Pignoli on the Harbour to The Marina Club. He crafted a classically Argentine menu and brought his wife in as the cook. But the restaurant business is tough, "so much overhead, staff, inventory," Pedro says. He decided to Continue Reading

At 4 Sestras Bistro To Go in Cape Coral, a chef works takeout magic

It doesn't make sense for me to review 4 Sestras Bistro To Go. The place is tiny. Its focus is takeout. It closes at 6 each night, and doesn't serve on weekends. It would make more sense featured in my colleagues' Off The Eaten Path series, or as a business story for one of our Cape Coral reporters.But one bite in, I got greedy and claimed this place for myself. Tucked behind the Sunoco Gas Station at the corner of Del Prado Boulevard and SE 47th Terrace in south Cape Coral, the 4-month-old 4 Sestras isn't just some takeout joint.Chef Nutial is the real deal. You can tell the moment you read her menu: potato skins filled with pork belly and creme fraiche; macaroni and cheese made with Gruyere, aged cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, then layered with lobster tail and Gulf shrimp. Imagine popping in expecting soup and sandwiches, then seeing all that. Mind. Blown. I was so overwhelmed my first visit, I blanked and just ordered the salmon. Not that anything is "just" anything here.That salmon came daubed in a verdant chimichurri, atop a cool bed of black beans and sweet corn flecked by cilantro and meaty tomatoes. The fish, meaty and perfect, was served as a warm counterpoint to the salad beneath, a play of temperature and texture that's wholly unexpected from a plastic takeout container eaten in a parking lot. My return visits to 4 Sestras yielded ever more surprises: crisp, Mediterranean-style egg rolls filled with ground lamb and toasted pine nuts and served with a cucumber-yogurt dipping sauce. Or a croque monsieur layered with ham, Gruyere and velvety bechamel, all on the most buttery, toasty bread imaginable.  Also:  Fathoms crew brings Gather to Cape Coral And:  Ralph's Place is a fine-dining spot in disguise"She's very specific about which bread goes with what," the woman at the counter had advised me. And in that moment, I got it. For her "Sestras Continue Reading

Hurricane Irma update: Restaurants open in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Sanibel, Lehigh, beaches

SCROLL DOWN FOR A LIST OF RESTAURANT REOPENINGSAs power returns to more neighborhoods, more employees are returning to work, and more restaurants are doing the same.Bite Squad, the new restaurant-delivery app servicing Fort Myers, Cape Coral and parts of Lehigh Acres resumed operations Thursday. Recent days have seen more openings on the islands and in southern Lee County, as well.  Almost all of the restaurants at Bell Tower Shops in south Fort Myers have reopened, though they remain cash only. The mall is hosting a food drive for Harry Chapin Food Bank until 6 tonight, collecting nonperishable goods, diapers, pet food and more. All of the restaurants at Miromar Outlets have reopened, as well.Even unopened restaurants are chipping in to help. Chef Todd Erickson of the forthcoming Society in south Fort Myers is cooking a free gourmet dinner for Dunbar residents impacted by Irma.The chef, along with state representative Heather Fitzenhagen, will be serving the hot meal starting at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Dr. Carrie D. Robinson Center at 2990 Edison Ave., Fort Myers. Here’s a look at some of the restaurants open and ready to serve. --- Please note that several restaurants are cash only due to power and internet constraints. Hours and menu availability are subject to change. Is your restaurant open or opening soon and not listed? Send details to [email protected] with “Irma reopening” in the subject line. For more Hurricane Irma coverage: Myers BeachBonita Bill's Waterfront Cafe: Reopened Wednesday. (702 Fishermans Wharf, Fort Myers Beach; 239-463-6119; Fish Co.: Reopened Thursday. (714 Fishermans Wharf, Fort Myers Beach; 239-233-8837; Cottage Beach Bar and Gulfshore Grill: Reopened at noon Thursday, cash only until internet resumes. (1250 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; Continue Reading

Fathoms crew brings Gather to Cape Coral, The Saucy Meatball coming to Fort Myers

Amid new, still plastic-wrapped bar stools and half-unpacked boxes of glassware, Val Zanella Voisin and her husband, Ben Voisin, paused and took a breath. "It's coming together," Val said. "It's getting there.""It" is Gather, the latest restaurant from the Voisins and their business partners Tim and Meredith Hoffman. The foursome opened Fathoms and The French Press at Cape Harbour in southwest Cape Coral in 2014. And now they're prepping for another Cape venture. Gather is scheduled to open in early October in the former Melograno space at Tarpon Point Marina. The breakfast-lunch-dinner restaurant and takeout service aims to live up to its name. "We want a spot where people can hang out, play games, have a drink, share a meal," Ben Voisin said."The idea is to be a place where you can relax and be comfortable." More:  Pair of chefs reinvigorate Fathoms Also:  Grub Cab is now Bite SquadGather's 67 indoor seats will be spread across a dinging room, a long bar and a lounge-like section lined with cushy leather sofas and wood coffee tables. The dining room will feature tables and a long banquette, with an additional 30-some seats along the outside of the building overlooking the water. As for the menu? "It's like a gastropub concept with international flavors and really top quality food, but reasonable prices," said Chef Ben Voisin, who will oversee Gather's kitchen with his good friend and fellow Fathoms chef Fabrice Deletrain. For breakfast Gather will serve unique twists on French tartines (Ben Voisin hails from Bordeaux, Deletrain is a Paris native), along with European pastries and the usual pancake and egg offerings, "but done our way, top notch," Ben Voisin said. Lunch and dinner will mean sandwiches, salads and shareable snacks, along with massive veal chops, house-made pastas, and Voisin's take on chicken and waffles — which is also designed to be shared. Catering Continue Reading

Irma update: Restaurants open in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Sanibel, Lehigh Acres, beaches

THIS STORY PUBLISHED WEDNESDAY. FOR AN UPDATED LIST, CLICK HERE. Scroll down for a list of restaurant re-openings. As power returns to more neighborhoods, more employees are returning to work, and more restaurants are doing the same.The problem now: food.“The big suppliers weren’t delivering until today,” Jay Johnson of Bubba’s Roadhouse in Cape Coral said Wednesday. "Some of the places with power could get by with the food they had, but now we're all waiting for deliveries."Many restaurant wholesalers, like Sysco and Gordon Food Service, weren’t able to resume delivery service until Wednesday, meaning restaurants that ran out of food had to sit and wait until more came.“We’re out of everything,” a server at PrimaFila Pizza in downtown Fort Myers said late Wednesday morning. “We’re hoping to get more food soon.” For more Hurricane Irma coverage: good news is more restaurants are coming online in places such as Lehigh Acres, northwest Cape Coral and the islands of Matlacha, where a handful of eateries reopened Wednesday.The even-better news is curfew has been lifted for most parts of Lee County, meaning you can now dine out past 8 p.m. in Fort Myers without fear of a citation. Or sip a late-night cocktail (and then hail an Uber) past 11 p.m. in Cape Coral.“Downtown is open for business,” Fort Myers restaurateur Nils Richter said via text after getting news of the lifted curfew.“We are reminding every guest leaving late to be extra careful, and we are happy to do that.”Here’s a look at some of the restaurants open and ready to serve.  Please note that several restaurants are cash only due to power and internet constraints. Hours and menu availability are subject to change.  Is your restaurant open or opening soon and not listed? Send details to [email protected] with “Irma reopening” in the subject Continue Reading

PrimaFila Pizza coming to Fort Myers, Scotty’s Bierwerks open, more

The long-planned but short-lived Flat Top Larry’s space in downtown Fort Myers will soon have a new tenant.PrimaFila Pizza e Ristorante Italiano is taking over the unit at 2122 First St., with plans to open before the end of May.“The theme of the place is going to be movie stars, old Hollywood, kind of like that,” PrimaFila’s chef and owner Salvatore Migliore said.“We didn’t have to make too many changes, just add the pizza ovens and the pizza section. The menu is going to be almost the same as here, almost.”By “here” Migliore means Bella Mia, the popular neighborhood pizzeria he opened in North Fort Myers in 2011. Migliore hails from Sicily, where he grew up working in his family's restaurants. He moved to the U.S. in 2007, opening his first place, Sicliano's, in Bradenton. Bella Mia: A Sicilian chef finds his niche in North Fort MyersAt Bella Mia, Migliore is known for his from-scratch menu of sauces, pastas and hand-tossed pizzas. The restaurant bakes its own breads, stuffs calzones to order, and makes its soups and salad dressings by hand daily. PrimaFila’s menu won’t be much different.So why the new name?Migliore said he has sold Bella Mia. Its buyers decided to keep the restaurant’s name the same, allowing Migliore to develop a slightly different concept for downtown.“We’re about three weeks to open,” Migliore said last week of PrimaFila, which means “first row” in Italian.“Everything’s ready to go, just waiting for paperwork and licensing.”Flat Top Larry’s owner Jose Benavides approached Migliore about taking over the space. Migliore said Benavides was a fan of Bella Mia, and thought the concept could do well downtown.Migliore had actually looked into downtown Fort Myers before opening Bella Mia, “but when I first came here, downtown was totally dead,” he said.“So much has changed in the last Continue Reading

Hurricane Irma: Restaurants open and serving in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples

This story published Tuesday. For Wednesday's restaurant update CLICK HERE Scroll down for a list of restaurant re-openings. If Hurricane Irma has taught us anything, it's that we are REALLY poor planners (or that we tire of hurricane rations pretty quickly). On Monday, mere hours after the massive storm raked across the Gulf Coast, on a day when most of us should have been eating peanut butter sandwiches and sipping from stashes of bottled water, hundreds if not thousands of us instead packed into the few area restaurants lucky enough to have power and clean water. "We are getting crushed right now," Shannon Yates, the owner of Nevermind in Cape Coral said Monday evening. "I'm just thankful I didn't lose it all."At Chinatown in North Fort Myers, a line of customers snaked out the door and down the plaza Monday afternoon. At China Xpress near downtown Fort Myers, crowds packed the small takeout joint late into Monday night. As power and water return across Southwest Florida, more and more restaurants will be reopening. Here's a look at some of the restaurants ready to serve.  Please note that several restaurants are currently cash only due to power and internet constraints. Hours and menu availability are subject to change.  Is your restaurant open or opening soon and not listed? Send details to [email protected] with “Irma reopening” in the subject line.Fort Myers areaLee Roy Selmon's: The store is currently cooking up all of its inventory of food and giving it away to the public. (5056 Daniels Parkway, south Fort Myers; 690-3287; Bagel Factory: Employees of this family-owned bagel shop spent Monday making fresh dough. The store will open at 6 a.m. Tuesday. (8841 College Parkway, south Fort Myers;  433-2245; Ice Cream Fort Myers and Tickled Taco: Open today regular hours. (2215-K Winkler Ave., Fort Continue Reading

Fall openings: New restaurants spring up in Naples, Fort Myers, Cape Coral

In the topsy-turvy world that is the local dining scene, a reversal of seasons only makes sense. Spring is when restaurants close, when those that didn't capture the bounty of our tourist-heavy winter months wither away and lock their doors. Fall is the time of hope and rebirth, as new restaurants burst through trying to snag their piece of the high-season pie.And this fall is certainly bursting. "It's as good a time as any," said Greg Gebhard, co-owner of Nice Guys Pizza in south Cape Coral and a partner in nearby Danger, Danger which plans to open by December. "We've still been slammed (at Nice Guys), so the goal here is to make sure everything's bangin' and just right before opening."Fall in Southwest Florida is a sweet spot for restaurant newcomers — slow enough for new servers and cooks to learn, but busy enough to keep them paid. More:Dining and restaurants Also:  Stone crab season off to solid start in Southwest FloridaAccording to 2015 data compiled for the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau, October to December were the rebound months where visitor spending jumped from a mere $490 million over the summer to a healthier $664 million. In January to March of that year, visitors spent $1.12 billion. Hurricane Irma has, of course, put her twist on things, forcing delays for many by stretching contractors and construction crews thin. "It pushed us back a few weeks, for sure," Sal Basile, owner of the forthcoming Saucy Meatball in Gateway said, "but we're getting there. It's coming together."More than 35 new restaurants plan to open throughout Lee and northern Collier counties between now and the end of the year, with even more having opened since September.More: Sails Restaurant to launch at Fifth and Third in Naples More:  Kitchen opens in downtown Naples Here's a look at who's who:Fall's restaurant bountyNorth NaplesCasamigos: Continue Reading