Life on Fifth Avenue South returns to normal after hurricane flooding –

Life is gradually returning to normal after floodwaters swept down Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples nearly two months ago.

Two long-running Fifth Avenue South restaurants“Pazzo!” Cucina Italiana and Chops City Grill — reopen at 4:30 p.m. todayfor the first time since Hurricane Ian inundated them on September 28.

“I am so proud of the hundreds of employees who are working around the clock for more than seven weeks to help us restore and rebuild our restaurants,” said Skip Quillen, founder and owner of Culinary Concepts restaurant group which owns and also operates Yabba Island Grill. , which reopened on October 4 the fifth. “The day after the hurricane, the one thing we all agreed on was that we weren’t just going to reopen; we were going to reopen with a bang and make our restaurants better than before – on every level.

The reopening restaurants include fully renovated walls and floors with all dining room furniture reupholstered and redone. The restoration of the two restaurants also included the replacement of kitchen equipment and coolers.

Monday was also the first day the Brandy Melville store on Fifth Avenue South reopened after storm surge from Ian damaged its interior and inventory. The brand’s first regional clothing and fashion accessories store for young women had only been launched a year before the hurricane struck.

Although not all businesses have reopened, the Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District believes it is important to celebrate the holidays this season. “We are going to do our Christmas event as usual there. “Christmas as usual on Fifth Avenue South” is going to be kind of our concept because we just want to promote it and show everyone that we’re back in business and it’s Christmas as usual said Christopher Shucart, president of Business Improvement. District.

Holiday events begin tonight with tree lighting, snowfall and the arrival of Santa on Third Street South. The Fifth Avenue Christmas Walk and Meals on the Avenue will take place on December 2. Other holiday events are also planned.

Quillen said he was behind Christmas as usual as much as possible on Fifth. “I think it’s a good idea,” he said, noting that the overwhelming support from the community has been motivating and encouraging for him. “We have received thousands of messages from around the world with phone calls, texts and social media posts. Customers walking along Fifth Avenue South stop just to tell us to carry on.

It’s counterintuitive that businesses closer to Four Corners on Fifth Avenue were harder hit by the storm than those closer to the Gulf on the city’s main street. The Four Corners area was first developed decades ago and is not as high as the other areas of the avenue, plus it is closer to the water of the Gordon River and the bay from Napoli. Some businesses had anti-flood panels to keep water out, while others did not.

“It’s just that different blocks were hurt more than others. It’s just kind of on a case-by-case basis,” Shucart said.

Although many stores, restaurants and businesses on Fifth Avenue have reopened, many other stores, restaurants, art galleries and real estate agencies have yet to reopen after the storm. Retailers with inventory on shelves or shelves near the floor suffered more water damage than others. Steady work is underway to bring the premium stretch back to business as usual.

“The problem is we’re fighting for the same six workers,” Quillen said. “The city, construction-wise, was on fire anyway and it was hard to get materials and stuff and then you put that on it.

“So everyone is doing their best to get help and to open up. Some were more damaged than others. If possible let it be known that Napoli and Old Napoli are coming back and it will be better than ever. We just have to cross the choke point. Everyone also took a major hit mentally.

Vineyard Vines, which opened its new Fifth Avenue clothing store in late July 2021, just 14 months before the hurricane, temporarily closed Monday night before the storm hit on Wednesday. The retailer had to start from scratch to rebuild its wooden cabinets and interior after nearly 3ft high floodwaters seeped into the store.

“We’re taking this opportunity to remodel it and bring it back better than ever,” said Chris Disselhorst, general manager of Vineyard Vines’ Fifth Avenue and Waterside Shops stores. The Waterside store reopened in October, but the Fifth Avenue store missed the chain’s optimistic goal of reopening ahead of Black Friday sales.

“We’re looking at mid-December, maybe January,” Disselhorst said of the target reopening date for his store on Fifth Avenue, near the entrance to the Inn on Fifth Club Level Suites.

The Gulf storm surge affected retail stores differently. “Coming in from the bay too, it was almost like the perfect storm,” Disselhorst said.

Gallery One had also optimistically hoped to reopen its local art gallery on Fifth Avenue in November, but it’s still a work in progress, said gallery manager Deb Wade, noting that patrons have called to inquire. on the status of the gallery, which has been in Naples for 30 years.

“We got all of our inventory back from the gallery, but it’s kind of a disaster area,” Wade said. “We were lucky that there was a unit near our home that we were able to put our inventory in. It’s just a waiting process. We try to be patient. We are going to be back and completely open.

A few restaurants on Fifth Avenue plan to reopen soon. Nosh on Naples Bay will relaunch at Naples Bay Resort on Tuesday with happy hour at 2 p.m. and dinner service from 4 p.m.

Bah ! Bah ! Persian Bistro, near Four Corners, hopes to reopen its dining room before January 1, owner Michael Mir said. “In order to remedy and to be certain that there will be no mold and health risks for you and ourselves, we have decided to completely empty the restaurant and renew everything. It will take time, but bha! Bah ! will come back fresh and renewed. Looking forward to continuing to serve you again,” Mir wrote in a note to his guests.