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Naples Restaurants Reopen, Slightly

Waiter wearing a mask doing table service on Fifth Avenue
Julie Glenn
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

On Monday, restaurants in Florida were allowed to welcome diners back into their restaurants at 25 percent occupancy indoors, and outdoors at widely spaced seating, to ensure social distancing.

Many tables were occupied late in the afternoon along Naples's dining thoroughfares,Fifth Avenue and Third Street South.It's the first day restaurants have been allowed to give guests more than carry out and curbside pick up since mid- March, and it’s the first, small step towards normalcy after the Coronavirus shut-down to stop the spread of the disease. 


“We’ve seen a 75% drop in hotel revenues, and the restaurant industry has been completely shut down.  It’s certainly unprecedented,” saidDr. Michael Collins, Associate Professor in the FGCU School of Resort & Hospitality Management. 


“The industry is only going to rebound as quickly as people are willing to get out of their home. So If you feel that you can get out of your home safely, If you feel you’re not at risk- go out and order dinner from your favorite restaurant,” he said. 


At Founder’s Market and Bistro, the shutdown came just weeks after a successful opening. “Our grand opening was February 21st,” said Executive Chef and co-owner Don Splain. He was celebrating his restaurants’ selection to be featured in an article in the national magazine Bon Appetit.

Then, just a few weeks later, all restaurants in Florida were shut down by Executive Order. 

“I literally had three people who came in, moved from out of state to work here, They were supposed to start March 19th,” Splain said. The shutdown started March 20th.

So, the Founder’s Bistro had to wait for a limited opening this week, a month and a half later.Splain said he plans to pick up right where they left off, building on the successful, yet stuttering start. “Within the three weeks that we were open, the feedback we were getting was so positive,”

Splain said. Despite the setback, he still plans to open a market next door where people can take the products featured at the restaurant home with them, to the beach,or to their next dinner party.



Copyright 2020 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Julie Glenn is the host of Gulf Coast Live. She has been working in southwest Florida as a freelance writer since 2007, most recently as a regular columnist for the Naples Daily News. She began her broadcasting career in 1993 as a reporter/anchor/producer for a local CBS affiliate in Quincy, Illinois. After also working for the NBC affiliate, she decided to move to Parma, Italy where she earned her Master’s degree in communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Her undergraduate degree in Mass Communication is from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.