Q: Is Bokamper’s in Naples totally closed? Hadn’t seen an update on them and we were surprised to see it looking pretty empty.
— Pat Renzulli Carter, Naples
A: Although its telephone message claims, “We are currently closed for routine maintenance,” the North Naples location of Bokamper’s Sports Bar & Grill permanently closed in May after operating for more than a decade.
PDKN Restaurant Group, the Plantation based company that owns and operates Bokamper’s, led by former Miami Dolphins player Kim “Bo” Bokamper and three other partners, recently sold the 10,500-square-foot restaurant space along Vanderbilt Beach Road for $4,675,000 to Aegean Estiatorio Inc., reports Investment Properties Corp. of Naples. The real estate transaction was negotiated by Patrick Fraley and David Stevens of IPC.
Coming to the former Bokamper’s location is Estia, “where your authentic Greek Mediterranean dining experience comes alive,” IPC reports. This will be the first Florida location for Estia Restaurant Group, which operates three fine-dining restaurants in Philadelphia; Radnor, Pennsylvania; and Marlton, New Jersey. “They are excited about opening their first location in the Naples area,” Mr. Fraley said.
Popular menu items at Estia will include whole grilled European sea bass, charcoal grilled octopus and salmon, classic Greek salads and Estia chips — thinly sliced zucchini and eggplant lightly fried and served with tzatziki dipping sauce. Expect all of the traditional Greek favorites, said Gus Pashalis, regional manager at Estia Restaurant Group.
“We try to elevate it and not make it just a casual affair,” the Johnson & Wales graduate said. “In other words, it won’t be your traditional Greek restaurant.”
Don’t expect to dine at the new Estia until 2023. “It’s going to be a year or a year and a half,” said Mr. Pashalis. “Right now, I’m trying to lock down an architect. It’s a very challenging time to open up a business.”
A description of Estia’s existing restaurants hints at the renovations planned inside the Naples venue. “The homelike ambience is accentuated with an indoor courtyard, complete with whitewashed walls, a deep blue ceiling and a living olive tree,” Estia’s website notes. “We used materials such as hand-chiseled Jerusalem limestone floors, hand-woven rugs, vaulted ceilings, antiqued stucco walls, wood plank floors and exposed wood beams to evoke the traditional atmosphere. A series of dining areas feature rustic farm tables, dark wood chairs with beige cushions and dining nooks with upholstered banquettes.”
Mr. Pashalis said they are happy with the Naples location, just minutes away from two Ritz-Carlton resorts. He’s planning to hire 80 to 100 employees. “We’re there for the long term,” he said.
In June 2010, Bokamper’s restaurant group purchased the Vanderbilt Galleria condominium unit at 8990 Fontana Del Sol Way for $2.65 million and launched in early 2011. IPC’s Stevens also handled that transaction.
Since the commercial condo was built in 2001, the restaurant property has sold two other times. It originally opened as Sanibel Steakhouse and became The Keg Steakhouse & Bar in 2008.
Two locations of Bokamper’s Sports Bar & Grill continue to operate in Fort Lauderdale and Plantation, where the dining concept was founded in 2008. A third location in Miramar, also in Broward County, is “closed for renovations,” according to Bokampers.com. After a five-month hiatus last year, the Naples restaurant relaunched in the fall with the addition of Bo’s BBQ menu items. Bokamper’s fifth location at Coconut Point in Estero permanently closed in 2020.
Q: Did The Counter in Mercato close? Went by yesterday and today (May 15) and it was locked up without a sign to indicate why. Thanks for all of your sleuthing to keep us In the Know!
— Margaret C.
A: The Counter Custom Burgers closed in May after operating for 10 years in Mercato. The Counter chose not to renew its lease, said Valerie Cope, senior marketing director at Mercato, a Madison Marquette property.
The build-your-own gourmet burger chain opened in 2012 in the middle of the mixed-use center in North Naples. Its only remaining location in Florida is in Miami International Airport.
“We have a signed LOI (letter of intent) and are in active lease negotiations with a new fine-dining concept,” Ms. Cope said. “We expect the lease to be finalized imminently.”
Additional information about a new restaurant there was not available.
Waiting for Butcher
Q: Wondering what the status is on the opening of Butcher?
— Bob Tamburini, Bonita Springs
A: Buildout of Butcher in North Naples is expected to be completed in August, but because of staff training and finishing details — including the stocking of 80,000 bottles of wine — the restaurant is targeted to open in October, said Veljko Pavicevic, who co-owns the upscale local restaurants Butcher and Sails with Corinne Ryan.
“The job on the outside looks small but it’s really all about the finishes and many details inside,” Mr. Pavicevic said.
Work started last year with the gutting of the former Agave Mexican restaurant and bar space near the southwest corner of Airport Pulling and Vanderbilt Beach Road. Originally targeted to open last November, Butcher is nearly a year behind because of supply issues and the insistence on expert craftsmanship and custom-made quality products.
“In Naples, you only get one first chance, so anybody that’s coming needs to be blown away,” Mr. Pavicevic said. “We are opening Butcher for a long-term investment.” ¦
“Tim Aten Knows” is published each week in Naples Florida Weekly. Email questions to TimAtenKnows@floridaweekly.com. Follow @TimAten- Knows on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.