Q: When is El Morro’s in Golden Gate going to open back up after their remodel? We really miss the restaurant, as they have the best Cuban cuisine in Naples!
— CKV, Naples
A: El Morro Cuban Cuisine reopened Monday after being closed for nearly a year at Santa Barbara Square, located on the northeast corner of Golden Gate Parkway and Santa Barbara Boulevard.
George Chaves, who has owned and operated El Morro for about six years, did much more than remodel his local restaurant. El Morro moved to a new location within the plaza and was significantly expanded and remodeled, said manager Maria Cruz.
The original 1,400-square-foot restaurant is now more than 5,000 square feet with the addition of an adjoining banquet hall and nightclub. Plans even call for the addition of another 1,000 square feet eventually.
The revamped restaurant features a new, large menu to match. The menu — with all information listed in both English and Spanish — features everything, and more, that one could expect from a Cuban restaurant.
The new venue will feature live shows and karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights. In addition to a bar, the club area includes a corner stage, pool table and private tables.
The restaurant is open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The club area remains open until 2 a.m. every night, Cruz said.
New CVS store
The recent changes at Santa Barbara Square were years in the making, and occurred because CVS pharmacy wanted to relocate from its location on the eastern end of that plaza to a larger, more visible store on the corner.
To make the CVS move possible, Taco Ardiente, Subway and El Morro had to move elsewhere in the strip center, said Romy Dearmas, a general contractor with Arnold & Arnold Real Estate, the owner of the plaza.
The original plan was to create a food court there by clustering the different restaurants around a common area, but that idea was scrapped about two years ago, Dearmas said. Hunan Chinese Restaurant, the only eatery in the plaza which did not have to move, would have been included.
The old and new CVS stores will switch over next week. The old CVS will close for good at 10 p.m. June 3. The new store, which will operate 24 hours a day, will open June 5. CVS will be closed for business in that plaza on Saturday, June 4.
The new CVS will be more than 40 percent larger than the current store. The business will expand from 9,800 square feet to 14,000 square feet.
Eventually, A&B Beverages, 2793 55th St. S.W., will relocate its liquor store to the former CVS location, Dearmas said.
Photo by TIM ATEN // Buy this photo
More local restaurant news
■ Five Guys Burgers & Fries signed a lease to open its fourth Collier County location. The permitting process has yet to begin on the new East Naples location, so an opening date has not been set. But Five Guys will be moving into the front 3,000 square feet of the former Grecian Gardens restaurant, 3148 U.S. 41 E. That’s also the previous home of two different steakhouses: Ponderosa and Steak Town USA. The building has been vacant for more than six years following damage in 2005 from a major fire and Hurricane Wilma. This will be the first local freestanding Five Guys. The other three Naples-area locations are in shopping centers: Goodlette Corners, Marquesa Plaza and Gateway Shoppes at North Bay.
■ Stevie Tomato’s Sports Page closed its Bonita Springs spot, 25271 Chamber of Commerce Drive, this week in a location that opened only in the last year. Patrons had a difficult time finding the place. Its Fort Myers location, 11491 S. Cleveland Ave., closed about a month ago. Stevie Tomato’s, which has been serving the area for about 12 years, still has two locations — in Cape Coral and in North Naples’ Pebblebrooke Center, 15215 Collier Blvd. The Stevie Tomato’s Sports Page on Shirley Street in North Naples closed in October 2009.
■ Cgrape Coffee and Wine Bar, 4450 Bonita Beach Road, in Bonita Springs, also recently closed in Liberty Bank Plaza. Mai Harkness, Cgrape’s owner and chef, has started a local catering service called Cgrape Chef. The new business features menus for hors d’oeurves and party trays, lunches and casual dinners, and buffets.
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