common / BestOf2012

Welcome to Florida Weekly’s Best special section

Typical “Best of” sections in local newspapers require merchants to buy ads to have their names placed on the ballot. No ad, no chance to win.

That’s not our style here at Florida Weekly. We wanted to create a Best of Collier County that was fun, entertaining and untainted (for the most part) by commerce. We set out to create a list that captured the character or our unique area with the kind of flair you’ve come to expect from this publication. Instead of focusing on local merchants, we spotlight the people, places and events that make Southwest Florida special. If someone did advertise, however, we thanked them by including them as a best.

At least we’re honest.

And, instead of having readers vote, which is a process rife with skullduggery, we sent our award-winning writers and editors out to scour Collier County for the Best.


>> Kathleen van Bergen >> Kathleen van Bergen What makes us unique


>> Collier County

A study published in Population Health Metrics says the average life expectancy for Collier County women is 86 years, the highest in the United States. Collier men, at 80, live longer than any others in Florida. That comes as no surprise to those of us who for years have been taking greedy gulps from Collier’s fountain of youth. Access to good health care is an obvious contributor, but might the longer living also come because of all the spa treatments offered and consumed? All the wonderful restaurants? All the warm weather and gulf sunsets? We’d like to think that this Collier County “best” comes as a result of the combination of all the “Best” things we celebrate in this issue. After all, living long is only worthwhile when you’re living in a place worth living long in.

>> Craig Wolf >> Craig Wolf BEST BOB DYLAN MOMENT (I.E. “HOW DOES IT FEE-EE-EL?”)

>> Todd Allen vs. Bank of America

It was, at first appearance, a familiar story: One party failed to pay what it owed, the aggrieved party foreclosed and the repo-folks showed up to take the furniture. Except in this case, the party owing the money was a bank, the foreclosing was done by a Naples couple’s attorney and the furniture being taken was from inside the institution. Some quick

financial action by Bank of America settled the debt and kept the furniture in place, but did nothing to remove the frittata’s worth of egg from its corporate face. Attorney Todd Allen’s action demonstrates both that given the right motivation, banks are still capable of speedy decisions, and that furniture from a bank lobby really only works in a bank lobby.

>> Tony Marino and Shannon Livingston >> Tony Marino and Shannon Livingston BEST SEND-OFF

>> Thank You Myra Days

When some people retire, they get a nice luncheon in their honor. Or they’ll get together with colleagues and friends at the local bar and toss down some beers. Myra Janco Daniels, the founder and first CEO of the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, had a two-day celebration at the venue. A Saturday night gala included Brian Stokes Mitchell CK Kelli O’Hara, Harolyn Blackwell, and Michael Feinstein, as well as Keith Lockhart conducting the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and dancers from the Miami City Ballet. Celebrities such as Bill Cosby and Neil Sedaka delivered pre-recorded messages.


>> Kathleen van Bergen

Philharmonic Center for the Arts CEO and President Kathleen van Bergen quickly set about making friends the minute she moved into her new position as successor to Mrs. Daniels (see above). She’s established partnerships with Gulfshore

>> Chief James Billie >> Chief James Billie Playhouse and Opera Naples, among others, earning her a virtual “standing ovation” for her overtures.


>> Craig Wolf

We learned earlier this year that NBC-2 might have lost Craig Wolf, its lead male anchor for nearly 18 years, not to disputes over money or bad behavior, but because of alleged dirty carpets. Mr. Wolf filed a whistleblower lawsuit against his former employer, claiming he was fired in retaliation for complaining to regulators about unsanitary conditions that he says damaged his health. The case is working its way through the courthouse, where, as far as we know, the linoleum tile is swept and polished daily.


>> Trey Radel’s website shenanigans

Republican candidate for U.S. House Trey Radel pulled the ultimate sneak attack by purchasing websites linked to the names of three of his rivals: Gary Aubuchon, Chauncey Goss and Paige Kreegel. Mr. Radel says he’s using the sites to highlight the liberal, big-spending faults of his competitors vying for the District 19 seat. His political foes, worried unsuspecting Googlers will navigate to these bogus sites, compare the move to identity theft and Washington-worthy campaign warfare. Is it sheer marketing genius, or just plain old dirty politics?


>> Cynthia Rodriguez-Schweisthal

As the liaison for homeless education for Collier County schools, Ms. Rodriguez-Schweisthal meets children who do their homework to the interior lights of parked cars and who wash up at gas stations and fall asleep at their desks. She helps these children with transportation, free lunch, tutoring sessions, health physicals, counseling, school supplies — but only as much as her funding will allow, for her position rests on a competitive grant of $90,000 to cover her salary and the services she provides. Meager as her means may be, she still delivers soap and towels to homeless shelters, she still finds bus passes for high school students who move from friend to friend, couch to couch. As of April, Ms. Rodriguez-Schweisthal has identified more than 1,000 homeless students in Collier County. We call her hero; these students might better call her saint. Compelled to donate or volunteer? Please call 377- 0505.

>> Joe-Jo Jennings >> Joe-Jo Jennings BEST MAY-DECEMBER ROMANCE

>> Tony Marino and Shannon Livingston

Mr. Marino (at 70, the December in this pairing) and Shannon Livingston (she’s May, at 39) have a 31-year age difference, but the relationship seems to work just fine. Tony says if Shannon can’t keep up that’s her issue, because he’s not slowing down.

>> Brenda O’Connor >> Brenda O’Connor BEST PROPOSAL

>> At the finish line

After the Marco Island Bridge Run, a half-marathon back in March, Naples triathlete Andy Holland dropped to one knee and proposed to Allyson Swanson, also a race competitor and triathlete. With a crowd of tired, sweaty runners cheering her on, she happily said “Yes!” — and we were reminded that true love is meant to be a marathon, not a sprint.


>> Chief James Billie

Chief James Billie has come a long way from being born next to the Chimpanzee Farm in Dania and escaping the deadly intent of a medicine man who took issue with little James’ mixed heritage. Mr. Billie, who was forced from his position as head of the Florida Seminoles nearly a decade ago, won 58.4 percent of the 1,757 ballots that were cast in an election last year and regained chairmanship of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. In doing so, he defeated two-term Chairman Mitchell Cypress, who was regarded as the favorite in the contest. Mr. Billie’s 22-year reign as chief of the Seminoles (1979-2001) was marked by flamboyance and controversy. A battle-hardened veteran of the Vietnam War and an alligator wrestler of wide renown, he piloted airplanes and helicopters owned by the tribe and generally conducted himself in a

>> Dave Wallace >> Dave Wallace fashion that was guaranteed to attract attention. The signal accomplishment of his tenure was the establishment of Indian gambling facilities that have been emulated by tribes across the United States.


>> Florida Georgia Grove LLC

Lawrence Perillo at the Stiletto Sprint Lawrence Perillo at the Stiletto Sprint This is the developer who bulldozed Mamie Street, the only road to the century-old National Historic Register Smallwood Store and Indian trading post on Chokoloskee Island. FGG put up a fence, blocked the only land access and forced Smallwood supporters to gather grass-roots support and sue.


>> Lynn Smallwood McMillim

Ms. McMillim is director of the Ted Smallwood Store Inc., the nonprofit group dedicated to restoring Mamie Street (see above). After missing deadlines and twice being found in contempt of court, Florida Georgia Grove LLC agreed to comply with a court order to remove the fence and pave Mamie Street, a road that had been open 70 years when FGG decided to bulldoze it.


>> Kat Epple

Ms. Epple is one of our favorite and most creative local musicians, but we have no idea what’s going on in this photo of her and keyboardist Chuck Grinnell that was part of a press release about a March performance. It looks like they went to Where the Wild Things Are — but in an alternate universe — and while there, found a cardboard box with a cloud stuffed inside it. We love it. And it makes us want to hear and see them play.


>> Man Accused of Attacking Woman with Swim Noodle over Watermelon Dispute – Naples Daily News

Thank goodness we still have daily newspapers to provide needed perspective on conflict in our changing world. In this analysis of an incident at Lowdermilk Park, the schism began with strong diplomatic language over the resting place of a rotting melon carcass (on-shore vs. off-), escalated to weaponry (as one party dumped on the other the bilge water from the barrel of a swim noodle) and ended with close-quarters combat (and, according to law enforcement, a punch to the cheek). With the arrest of an East Naples man, police have now reclaimed Lowdermilk Park as part of the Collier County DMZ.


>> Joe-Jo Jennings

Some would say it’s the pocket square. Others would insist it’s the bow tie. We’d agree it’s both those things, plus his John Craig wardrobe, that give Neapolitan Joe-Jo Jennings his characteristic fashion panache. But there’s something else, too. Whenever we think of Mr. Jennings, we’re reminded of that old song, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” It still remains his most fabulous accessory.


>> Brenda O’Connor

The senior vice president of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce says style for her means “playing dress up” every day. Mrs. O’Connor uses her imagination to create new looks for business, casual, “Naples Chic” or black tie. And she also relies on her great rapport with the salespeople in her favorite store, Nordstrom.


The proud president of the St. Andrews Society of Southwest Florida has been photographed more times in his kilt than any other man in Naples. Sorry, girls, but the senior commercial broker associate with CRE Consultants is married to the lovely Suzanne Wallace and the photo here is actually from their wedding.


>> The Stiletto Sprint

A light-hearted, 500-yard race with a serious purpose — to raise funds and awareness during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month every October — the Stiletto Sprint draws bold women and even bolder men out to make a daring dash down Fifth Avenue South while wearing heels (the higher the better). Most participants use the sprint as an opportunity to get decked out in pink from head to toe as a sign of their support for the Garden of Hope and Courage at NCH and for Susan G. Komen for the Cure-Southwest Florida.

>> Kelly Capolino >> Kelly Capolino BEST EXTREME HOME MAKEOVER

>> The David Lawrence Center

The kitchen and multi-purpose room in the Substance Abuse Services Center at the David Lawrence Center were in dire need of a makeover when professional organizer Marla Ottenstein donated her time and talent to make the spaces more functional and attractive. She applied her no-nonsense approach to cleaning out clutter, rearranged what was left and added much-needed touches, from a tile backsplash in the kitchen (which Ms. Ottenstein secured as a donation from Creative Tile & Hardwood Floors) to coordinating containers for condiments and supplies.


>> Love That Dress!

Donate a dress. Buy a dress. Help a young girl twice. Love That Dress! is a night with the girls, for the girls. Fashionistas sip on wine, snack on hors d’ oeuvres and feel good about their snazzy new find, knowing the money they spend goes to PACE Center for Girls-Collier at Immokalee. PACE helps at-risk girls find their path to a brighter future through education, counseling, training and advocacy. In the weeks leading up to the event, dress donation parties take place all around town, hosted by businesses and individuals who believe in the cause. And the day after the big event, the young ladies of PACE peruse the remaining inventory, picking out a dress or two or five for themselves, bringing it back to what it’s all about. This yeare’s Love That Dress! is set for Wednesday, Aug. 29, at the Waldorf Astoria Naples. Be there!

>> Craig Bamberg >> Craig Bamberg BEST REASON FOR A TRIP TO THE MALL

>> To shop for a pet

Talk about a purrrr-fect pairing. Humane Society Naples and Coastland Center teamed up last fall to open a satellite center for the animal welfare group, allowing pet lovers a convenient spot in which to adopt dogs, cats and other homeless creatures. It’s even open during conventional mall hours much of the week, which mean potential pet owners don’t have to leave work early in order to find and fall in love with a friendly furry face to take home. Making it easier for people to adopt pets is a concept worth barking for joy over.

>> Frank O’Neill >> Frank O’Neill BEST HAIR (HER)

>> Kelly Capolino

Real estate professional and founder of the Diamond Volunteer Program, Ms. Capolino says her white highlights are God-given and her spiked cut is by Abby at Roberts of Philadelphia. With her busy schedule, she likes a cut that she can style in a few minutes, and that she can spike even more with a few dabs of gel when the occasion calls for a more playful look.

>> Kathleen van Bergen >> Kathleen van Bergen BEST HAIR (HIM)

>> Craig Bamberg

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then it just might

be that Justin Beiber’s do can be traced back to its origin right here in Naples on the head of Craig Bamberg (although Mr. Bamberg’s look is more “tailored mod GQ” than “rebel hip-hop teen”). He’s a favorite among local paparazzi as easily spotted at events all around town. The senior director of corporate communications for ASG Software tells us his must-have hair elixir is LA Looks #10.


>> Frank O’Neill

We snapped a photo of Mr. O’Neill and his remarkable mustache and beard at the annual CREW concert at Riverside Park in Bonita Springs. Although we caught him chilling out, he’s a busy man who has served as interim building official for Collier County and chief building inspector for Lee County and now owns and operates Full Service Green, an environmental consulting company.

>> Karl Gibbons >> Karl Gibbons BEST SPECS (HER)

>> Kathleen van Bergen

We’ve already mentioned her as the Best New Kid in Town, but Kathleen van Bergen gets another nod as the woman about town who wears great eyeglasses. She tells us she’s been wearing specs since her college days and has four pair in her current collection. Here she is

in her favorite “dressy” pair, “oldies but goodies” she bought several years ago in Germany while there playing violin at a music festival in Heidelberg; as Best New Kid in Town (see page D5), the president and CEO of the Phil is wearing more business-friendly frames by Lafont.


>> Karl Gibbons

Mr. Gibbons says he buys eyeglasses like women buy shoes. When asked how many pairs he owns, the president of Third Eye Management says not enough and certainly not as many as Sir Elton John. He’s shown here in frames by Roberto Cavalli.

>> Gayle and Scott Campbell >> Gayle and Scott Campbell BEST SPECS (THEM)

>> Gayle and Scott Campbell

Our third annual Best edition has a firsttime category for a couple who both wear great glasses. When we noticed Gayle and Scott Campbell (he’s CEO of Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard) kept showing up in our Society photos looking equally fabulous in a variety of frames, we had to find out more. Turns out she has “maybe a dozen?” pair by designers from Armani, Chanel and Kate Spade to Jean Lafont and Alain Mikli (her favorite). He favors frames from Marc Ecko, Gant and Ermenegildo Zegna. Shown here at the Dream Gala for the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples, she’s wearing a pair by Kate Spade and he’s in Marc Ecko. What a pair!

>> Peggy Farren >> Peggy Farren BEST SMILE

>> Peggy Farren

The effervescent owner of Understand Photography and Avant-Garde Images is always beaming (and usually laughing). She says she smiles and laughs because life is good and most people are interesting and fun to be around. She certainly sets the standard on that account.


>> Ochopee Post Office

At a whopping 7-by-8 feet, this fully functioning U. S. Post Office is the smallest in the Country and a tourist attraction in its own right. Ochopee boasts a population of about one dozen. The tiny ghost town sits alongside the Tamiami Trail, about 35 picturesque miles east of Naples and about one mile west of the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters (see below).


>> Skunk Ape Research Headquarters

>> Ochopee Post Office >> Ochopee Post Office If huge, hairy, smelly, mysterious creatures interest you, don’t miss this kitschy attraction. It’s about as far removed from glitzy Fifth Avenue South as the Moon is from Mars, but you might just remember it longer. And if you’re here in October, there’s always “Skunktoberfest.” Find it at Trail Lakes Campground, 36 miles east of Naples on U.S. 41 in Ochopee. Write a postcard home while you’re there (see above).


>> Gasoline from IberiaBank

Imagine the surprise of motorists who stopped to fill ’er up on Wednesday, March 14, and learned they had been chosen at random to get $12.50 worth of gas for free, compliments of IberiaBank. As part of its 125th year celebration, the bank master-minded random acts of kindness at two gas stations in Naples, one on Marco Island and four in Lee County. Companywide that day, IberiaBank representatives pumped $12,500 worth of free fuel.

>> East Naples Baptist Church >> East Naples Baptist Church BEST LOCAL PIPELINE

>> Gas at Costco

If you can’t get it for free, the least expensive gas in town is often found at Costco on Naples Boulevard. But the crowds are often found there, too. The fourth line of pumps installed this spring helps, but if you really want to beat the wait, the pumps open at 6 a.m. and there’s hardly ever a line then.


>> Collier 211

You’ve got questions, 211 has answers. The new non-emergency information and referral service from the Community Foundation of Collier County helps callers find help and information about hundreds of community nonprofits, government and for-profit service providers. One call to Collier 211 can help eliminate confusion about who to call for help and also reduces inappropriate calls to 911. Dial 211 or 263- 4211, or visit

>> Peg Longstreth >> Peg Longstreth BEST CHURCH MARQUEE

>> East Naples Baptist Church

“Heaven. Don’t miss it for the world.” “You’re not saved by service but saved for service.” It’s no wonder that when it comes to witticisms of an ecclesiastical nature, the marquee at East Naples Baptist Church has earned a reputation for repartee. From snappy sayings to thoughtful reflections on the nature of spirituality, this marquee is sure to put a little prayer in your drive time.


>> Waypoint Community Church

It’s Olympic! About a year and a half ago, Waypoint Community Church purchased the Collier Athletic Club property and began holding services there. It’s perhaps the only churches in town complete with pool, tennis courts and bar (now known as Believers And Refreshments). Pastor JD Mallory says everyone is welcome, and if you feel like taking a dip after worshipping, just bring your suit.

>> The Green Flash Fairy >> The Green Flash Fairy BEST NEW APP

>> Savory “lollipops”

Butternut squash rounds filled with boursin cheese and leeks, pinwheels of smoked salmon, stuffed mushroom caps, perfectly round melon balls — all in bitesize portions and presented on lollipop sticks, perfect for plucking from an imaginative display and popping into your mouth with nary a need for a napkin. These newest apps, the delightfully delicious creations of Carol and Henry Dinardo of the Washington, D.C.- based Windows Catering Co., whet our appetite at Magic Under the Mangroves, the annual gala for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, but we suspect the inventive nibblies will soon be “popping up” at all the cool cocktail parties and receptions around town.

>> The “World Famous” Swamp Buggy Races >> The “World Famous” Swamp Buggy Races BEST DO-GOODER

>> John Bunch

Fishing guide and Capt. John “Giddy-up” Bunch’s seven-year effort to give troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan weddings, honeymoons, vacations, fishing

trips and joy at no charge — a form of thanks — is unprecedented. Also a licensed pastor, Capt. Bunch performs weddings by land, air and sea (and why not? He’s a former Marine Corps officer, after all). More than 150 businesses throughout Southwest Florida support his effort, but more support is always better support. Find out how you can help at


>> “Piranha”

So, how did the man driving the blue Lamborghini Gallardo with the vanity plates that read “Piranha” make his money? We doubt it was by importing exotic fish. Spotted at the corner of Golden Gate Parkway and Livingston Road, he might not have been fishing for our attention — but he certainly caught it.

>> Strut Your Mutt >> Strut Your Mutt BEST PERSON WE ALL MISS

>> Peg Longstreth

At more than 6 feet tall and with a booming voice and strong opinions, Peg Longstreth was difficult to overlook. She knew the visual arts. She knew opera. She knew classical music. She knew a lot about a wide range of things. And she wrote about them for Florida Weekly. She opened an art gallery and filled it with artwork that’d be more at home in a more progressive metropolitan area. She loved cats and could never turn away any stray that was smart enough to find his or her way to her door. She died suddenly in February, and everyone who knows her is still reeling from the loss.

>> The Coquito Mojito >> The Coquito Mojito DOWN TIME:

Relaxing and having fun


>> The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples

C’Mon! Climb a tree, rake fall leaves, step into an igloo. At Naples’ newest museum kids can cast magnets to fish for stuffed animals from blue-painted turntables and then measure their catch to make sure it’s a keeper. They can traverse the Everglades by boardwalk, above a mangrove maze where a 19-foot gator (not a real one) makes his home. There’s also a 45-foot-tall banyan tree to climb and a 22-foot-wide nautica shell to explore.


>> The Green Flash Fairy

For the past two years, Kaye Klug has dressed up as the Green Flash Fairy to welcome guests at the Friends of Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park beach fundraiser, the “Green Flash Sunset Celebration.” Catch her colorful act at the third annual celebration in November.


>> The “World Famous” Swamp Buggy Races

Three times a year, the “World Famous” Naples Swamp Buggy Races provide an opportunity to witness what must rank as one of the strangest vehicle spectacles in the world. Buggies shaped like submarines and airplanes, on skids and skis and painted Skittles colors, plow through and over muddy water. It’s a roaring-loud place to spend a day with the family and maybe shock-and-awe some out-of-town guests. The first King of the Swamp was Johnny Jones, crowned in 1949. This year’s Spring Classic Champion was a SHE — Lorrie Johns, crowned Queen of the Swamp in her buggy “Lady Liberty.” Your next chance to catch a race will be Oct. 27-28 at the Florida Sports Park. Check it out. These definitely ain’t your Granddaddy’s buggy races!


>> Showtime at the Pavilion

The Pavilion Cinema 10 in the Pavilion Shopping

Center at the corner of Tamiami Trail North and Vanderbilt Beach Road is a bargain for anyone over 55; you can impress your date with a first-run movie and still have enough money for popcorn. Even though it’s hard to ask for the senior ticket the first time, for $6 it’s well worth it. And as far as we can tell, they never ask for I.D. (a bit disheartening for those of us who think we still look 40-something, but hey, we gotta love the savings). pavilioncinema10.


>> Bravo! Cucina Italiana

After you’ve dazzled your date with your good looks, be sure to impress her with your financial smarts. Visit Bravo! Cucina Italiana at Mercato for the “Bar Bites” menu and choose from an array of hearty appetizers, all for a mere $2.95. Offered from 3:30-6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close, Monday to Friday. And if you think this romance might last, don’t miss $5 martini Wednesdays.


>> Gulf Coast Town Center

Whether you’re plopped down on the grass in front of the stage, bar hopping or ducking in and out of all the shops, live music from the market plaza stage fills the air and sets a celebratory tone every weekend at Gulf Coast Town Center. Coming up in May: Batey (salsa and meringue, May 5), Mike & the Blues Rockers (acoustic rock, May 12), The Drunk Monkeys (acoustic rock, May 19) and Chicago Mob (jazz and blues, May 26).


>> Naples Food tours

Naples Food Tours arrived on the scene in January, giving visitors and residents the opportunity to spend an afternoon nibbling their way through a variety of Naples eateries. The three-hour tour sets out from 2-5 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays and takes in five to six tasting stops.


>> Fit & Fuel Café

Banish the early morning blahs with an energy infusion from Fit & Fuel Café next to Naples Cyclery at the Pavilion Shopping Center. With yummy smoothies, bakery treats, crispy bagels and handcrafted coffee drinks from Miami-based specialty roaster Panther Coffee, this casual eatery will amp up your morning. And don’t forget to grab a Roadster cookie to ward off the dreaded afternoon slump. 514-3333.


>> Shula’s

Maybe you’re closing a whale of a deal, or maybe you’re celebrating the success of a long business relationship. Whichever, you’ll chalk up the intended points with a business lunch at Shula’s: America’s Steakhouse at the Hilton Naples. Your clients have probably already been there for dinner; imagine how happy

they’ll be with an invitation to one of the nation’s best steakhouses — for lunch! A Premium Black Angus Steak and Shula’s Steakhouse Sides in the middle of the day and the evening is still theirs. Which should put you well on your way to the next big deal and relationship. 430-4999;


>> Agave Southwestern Grill

With more than 200 tequilas and mezcals, awesome bartenders and creadors making guacamole, Agave has quickly become “the” place to be in North Naples. A full bar with a 12-foot tequila tower and glassenclosed tequila room, award-winning cuisine, fabulous lunch guaranteed served fresh in 30 minutes and the best margaritas in town — you’ll be sure to get your inspiration on! Pass the salt and limes, please! 598-3473;


>> Jason’s Deli

Big stacked deli sandwiches and homemade toppings are staples at Jason’s along with a focus on health and well-being. That why there’s also have a gluten-free menu with a full line of dressings, soups, breads, potatoes, kids meals and more. That’s what helped earn Jason’s the vote for Best Restaurant Chain in America by Parent’s Magazine in 2011. And of course, if it comes from Jason’s kitchen, there’s no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial trans fats and no MSG. All that healthy goodness goes so much better

with the free soft-serve ice cream that finishes up every Jason’s meal. 593-9499;


>> Fake Problems

Fake Problems is the name of a four-piece Indie rock band from Naples that’s currently on tour with Say Anything. Two of Fake Problems’ songs are featured on the latest Taco Bell commercials. Watch for them; they just might inspire you to make a taco run for the border. Band members are Chris Farren, Derek Perry, Sean Stevenson and Brian Blount. Find Fake Problems — the real thing — on Facebook and YouTube.


>> Mercato

Remember when you used to feel the need to take visitors to a certain theme park near Orlando? Those days are gone with the advent of the Mercato Shops. Why settle for a Small World when Mercato brings you a big world that includes Silverspot Cinema, Sur la Table and Charming Charlies? Who needs Tomorrowland when today at Mercato brings Whole Foods Market, Pandora and Bio? And why settle for a frozen banana when Mercato has Yogurbella, McCormick and Schmick’s and Blue Martini? For visiting guests, the Mercato can be your personal Magic Kingdom.


>> Patricia Racette at Moorings Presbyterian Church

Opera Naples hit a hit note in fundraisers with the engagement of Metropolitan Opera soprano Patricia Racette to perform with her pianist, Dan Gettinger, in the acoustically amazing sanctuary at Moorings Presbyterian Church. The evening wasn’t all Puccini and Verde, however; after a set of opera classics and a brief break, she delighted the audience with numbers from the Great American Songbook, an Edith Piaf torch classic and Judy Garland’s “The Man That Got Away.” We didn’t know whether to shout “Encore!” or “Amen!”


>> Naples Winter Wine Fest ($14 million) and Two Buck Chuck at Trader Joe’s

It’s fitting that we’re home to both the Naples Winter Wine Festival and a Trader Joe’s, grocery purveyor of the near-cult-status Charles Shaw wine known as Two Buck Chuck. That the wine fest’s latest charitable bonanza of $12.2 million could buy more than 4 million bottles of the lesser juice (it’s actually $2.99 a bottle) — enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool plus dozens of hot tubs — is not lost on those who appreciate both the finer things in life AND a good buy on a drinkable bottle for the patio instead of the wine room.


>> The inaugural Naples Craft Beer Fest

While we are blessed to live in an area that already boasts a multi-million-dollar charity festival based on wine (see above), there are other beverages not yet mined for their donor-draw. That list no longer includes craft beers, as they’ve been picked up by

area Rotarians for their hoppy, heady and handcrafted appeal. Sponsored by the Naples North Rotary Foundation, the inaugural Naples Craft Beer Fest in March featured 60 lagers and ales, most on-tap and craft-brewed. With this event’s successful launch, we’re predicting future fundraising festivals for vodka, tea and sports drinks.


>> The Naples Music Festival

The cost of admission mirrors the most glamorous galas in town, but the dress code makes the Naples Music Festival a fundraiser that even the guys don’t mind getting ready for. The bi-annual benefit for the Garden of Hope & Courage fills the historic Third Street South district with live bands and great food and drink. There are lots of studs, too, but none of the kind required to accessorize a tuxedo.


>> Strut Your Mutt

The human Halloween costume parade down Fifth Avenue South is always a sight to behold, but we think Humane Society Naples’ annual Strut Your Mutt pet parade is even

more fun to see. It’s amazing the lengths pet owners will go to (and what some dogs will tolerate) in hopes of capturing the title of Scariest, Funniest, Most Original or Best Celebrity Lookalike for their canine companion.


>> “Hello, Dolly!”

It was a masterful staging idea, and truly unexpected: In the middle of The Naples Players’ production of “Hello, Dolly!” during the song “Put on Your Sunday Clothes,” the entire cast strutted off the stage and paraded across the center aisle at the Sugden Community Theatre in their early 20th century finery. If you were sitting in an aisle seat, you got a great closeup view of the fancy costumes.


>> Calistoga Cafe

This artisan sandwich shop and bakery also has great gourmet coffee and espresso, a laid-back atmosphere and, an extra bonus, free Wi-Fi, which means that you can even hang out after eating and fire up the iPad or laptop. Lunch, however, is one of our favorite reasons to head to Calistoga. It’s quick, but it’s not fast food. There’s no fryer, and the sandwiches, soups and salads are loaded with fresh and flavorful veggies, nuts, grains, spices and herbs. Which makes Calistoga better — simply better. Three locations in Southwest Florida: Coastland Center Mall and 7941 Airport-Pulling Road, Naples; and Gulf Coast Town Center, Fort Myers.


>> Calistoga at Coastland Center

We know you go there for the food, but Calistoga Bakery and Café at Coastland Center also gets a Florida Weekly Best for its ladies’ room. If you’ve ever tried to fit into a restroom stall with your big purse or a bulging shopping bag, then you know what it’s like. You sometimes have to make a decision: Me or my purse? Both just won’t fit. Not so at this Calistoga, where the women’s restroom stalls are so big and roomy that you could even take in a suitcase. Finally, a restaurant that understands a woman’s needs.


>> Who cares?


>> Per: Eating Well

While it’s nice to finally have a choice between Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, we pay just a wee bit more when we get everything we need at either. Despite the sinking balance feeling on our debit card, our friends at the Eating Well blog point to some values at each. They note Trader Joe’s cheese (Comte and Chevre), staples (olive oil, almonds, granola and wild rice) frozen foods (smoked salmon and scallops) and wine. Whole Foods gets value marks for local fruits and vegetables, sustainable fish and seafood, bulk foods and store-brand products (365 Everyday Value and WFM). But value or not, we’re still going to pick up something chocolate-covered, wasabi-scented or herb-mixed, no matter whose cart we’re pushing.


>> “Race”

Gulfshore Playhouse’s production of David Mamet’s “Race” was a no-holds-barred look at race in America: our prejudices, our assumptions, our fears. It was provocative, audacious, brutally honest. And it laid it all out in some pretty explicit language. It was incredibly compelling theater. And it was a hell of a gutsy move for Producing Artistic Director Kristen Coury to stage this play in Naples, which is not exactly known for being open-minded and progressive, especially in matters of race.


>> Charo

Charo’s show in the Daniels Pavilion at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts contained many highlights: shimmying in her low-cut mini-dress, going into the audience and pulling a man’s head into her cleavage, astounding us with her considerable skill on the classical guitar. (She’s a former student of Andre Segovia.) Yes, she sang her latest hit, “Sexy Sexy Sexy.” But one of our favorite moments was when she gave advice about the tango. “You have to be careful when you dance the tango,” she warned in her heavily accented/mangled English. “It can be a very dangerous dance, because you have to get very close, like you’re spooning. And everyone knows that too much spooning can lead to forking.”


>>The Critic’s Choice

Year after year, it’s the most widely anticipated summer reading list around, offered up by Elaine Newton of “The Critic’s Choice” series of book lectures at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts. Dr. Newton has a knack for picking interesting, literary novels. Every April, at her last lecture, she hands out her summer reading list. This year’s 38 titles include: “The Dressmaker” by Kate Alcott, “The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides, “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach, “The Stranger’s Child” by Alan Hollingshust, “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern, “The Submission” by Amy Waldman and “An Available Man” by Hilma Wolitzer. From those titles, she’ll pick six to lecture about next season. Find the entire list at


>> The Coquito Mojito

Here’s to the new Naples Original, aka the Coquito Mojito, the cocktail that won a taste contest sponsored by the Naples Originals, the organization that promotes local, independent restaurants. Should you wish to tie one on in a liquid manner, here’s the recipe: .75-ounce Dancing Pine Oak Cask Rum, .75-ounce coconut-flavored rum, .75-ounce fresh squeezed lime juice, .75-ounce Coco Popez Coconut Cream, a splash of club soda and three sprigs of fresh mint (plus one for garnish), lime wheel garnish and coquitos (marble-sized coconuts for garnish, optional). In a cocktail shaker, lightly muddle the mint in

the coconut cream. Add lime juice and rums, fill with ice and give a long hard shake. Pour through strainer into a glass over ice. Add a splash of club soda. Garnish with mint, lime wheel and coquito. Serves one. Cheers!


>> Bacon for dessert

It’s hard to imagine, but bacon’s the newest dessert staple. Tierney’s Tavern at the Bay House takes it uptown with the Southern Decadence, a sweet bourbon pecan tart with sugar cane ice cream, mousselike sweet potato cremeaux, corn-liquor gelee and chunks of salty, crunchy bacon. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. 591-3837.


>> The English Pub

Just in time for the Olympic Games to move to London this summer, Naples’ original English Pub has moved to the East Trail to be ready for you. As your favorite Olympic competitions await their new London location, so too, do your favorite foods, favorite staff and favorite publicans await at the Pub’s new address, 5047 Tamiami Trail E. 775-3727;


>> Preferred Travel of Naples

Preferred Travel of Naples continues to grow and

expand by adding even more expert travel consultants to its 7,000-plus-square-foot office. Preferred Travel owner Wilma Boyd is recognized as one of the best bosses in Southwest Florida and is recognized by national industry magazines, which makes it no surprise that Preferred Travel continues to be named as one of Southwest Florida’s top companies. Best people, best management and best company: When it comes to help making your travel plans, isn’t that the kind of perfection you’d prefer? 261-1177;


The great outdoors


>> Cambier Park

Tucked close to Fifth Avenue South at 755 Eighth Ave. S., this iconic park boasts lots of treed shade, a band shell, shuffleboard and bocce courts, tennis, a playground, pavilion and, best of all, serenity.


>> Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch

Part of the Collier County Museum system, this 15-acre living history museum consists of 20 preserved

buildings. Museum programs include ranch tours and events with historical characters as well as an annual Old Florida Festival. Anytime you decide to go, it’s a 44-mile trip back in time to the un-beached Florida, the one peopled by cow-hunters, ranchers and Indians.


>> Naples Grande Golf Club

Regardless of your interpretation, you’ll find “green” all over Naples Grande Golf Club. If green to you is lush or rich, you’ll find an abundance of both, from the verdant fairways to the brand new greens. If a green is something you’re trying to reach in as few strokes of a club as possible, well, 18 of them are what Naples Grande Golf Club is all about. Or, if Shakespeare’s “green-eyed monster” of jealousy refers to the way you look upon members here, Marc Freiburg will be glad to get you on the other side of that membership equation (including a $69 memberfor a-day with unlimited afternoon golf).


>> The bridge to Marco Island

A sidewalk/bike path is included in the new twolane span of the Jolley Bridge that provides southbound travel from Naples onto Marco Island. We can thank our federal stimulus dollars and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for newly improved access.


>> Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park

This beachfront park at the end of Immokalee/111th Street has plenty of places to hide from the pressures of everyday life, whether it’s for lunch hour while you’re on the job or for a break from the kids and laundry duty on a weekend afternoon. And if you want to bring a party with you, there are picnic tables, grills, restrooms and showers. The 166-acre park is a tropical paradise for beach lovers, boaters and divers.


>> Naples Municipal Beach & Fishing Pier

The Naples Pier is one of the most photographed landmarks in the area for a reason. It’s a spectacular place to walk on water without getting your feet wet. Go, stroll, saunter, sashay, wander or ramble and enjoy Naples and the Gulf of Mexico from a vantage like no other.


>> Naples Princess Cruises

The $3.5 million, 105-foot Naples Princess would be the envy of any prince’s bride. The best part is, this U.S. Coast Guard-certified vessel is open to the public. Step aboard for any number of daily excursions that depart from Port O’ Call Way near downtown Naples, or book a private event. Among surroundings of cherry wood and gold-plated ceilings, take in the views of Naples Bay and ogle at the exquisite waterfront residences in Port Royal. You can also choose to climb aboard for dinner and sunset. 649- 2275;


>> Clam Pass Park

Enjoy a ¾-mile boardwalk stroll through a primeval mangrove tunnel. A free tram runs during daylight hours to take you comfortably from parking lot to beach. Skittering fiddler crabs, water birds and raccoon sightings included free. Parking is at the end of Seagate Drive.


>> Clyde Butcher’s Saturday Swamp Walk

Join a swamp slog, organized by legendary photographer and Florida icon Clyde Butcher. Every Saturday from September through March, intrepid souls have a chance to rub shoulders with genius, and maybe even snap their own masterpiece pictures in the Big Cypress Swamp.


>> Weekend in Clyde Butcher’s Bungalow or Swamp Cottage

(see above) For Rent: October through April, two swamp houses owned by famed landscape photographer Clyde Butcher. Spend a night or two experiencing South Florida’s watery wilderness, close-up. Maybe even catch a glimpse of the Skunk Ape!


>> Wooten’s Everglades Airboat Tour

Wooten’s has been gliding people around the River of Grass since 1953. For a unique peek at a landscape like no other, board an airboat and prepare to be thrilled.


What we buy


>> Miromar Outlets

With more than 140 top designer and brand name outlet stores, if you start at one end of Miromar Outlets and shop your way to the other, you can stretch your dollar approximately two miles. You might wear out a lot of shoe leather, but don’t worry, you’ll encounter lots of footwear stores for replacements along the way — as well as places for apparel and accessories, housewares and furnishings, jewelry, luggage, toys and more. At Miromar Outlets, you can fill more bags for the buck and you can dine, drink and be entertained along the way. Don’t miss the snowy

white Peking ducks at the Nike fountain, the koi fish near Neiman Marcus Last Call or the turtles near Eddie Bauer Outlet.


>> All About Closets

When you dread going into your dark and unorganized closet, there’s something wrong. All About Closets can turn that fearful space into a model of beauty and efficiency with custom designs. Closets, kitchens, entertainment areas, pantries, home offices — any space in your house or business can be transformed. It works with homeowners, builders and developers and interior designers. You’ll never get lost in there again. 303-5829;


>> True Fashionistas Designer Resale

What if you could find a shop where true fashion met resale and consignment? Not just a “second-hand” store, but pre-owned Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, to name a few. And what if this shop had impeccable style and sophistication in women’s, men’s and children’s clothing and accessories? Whether you’re looking for the finest names in couture or have clothing to sell, trade or consign, your go-to place is True Fashionistas Designer Resale. Come shop the collection of fashion-forward clothing and bring a few gently used pieces of your own. It’s how you can “go green,” the designer way.


>> CI Travel

When we imagine the perfect travel experience, it starts with someone else doing all the research and planning. After that, they’d move on to finding the best values for extraordinary experiences. That’s precisely what we find in CI Travel. With nearly 40 years in the global travel business, CI Travel is employeeowned and one of the largest American Express-affiliated travel firms in the world. And they complete the travel experience after you book your trip by being on call during your travels. It’s like having a personal travel expert along for the ride.


>> Judy Hansen, Coldwell Banker

Judy Hansen is more than just a top-notch Realtor; she’s also a racing sailor and commodore of the Gulf Coast Sailing Club. And her sailing is a real asset to her real estate clients: She can plot a course through challenging hazards and uncertain seas; she knows when to tack away from trouble, toward better winds; and she watches the charts to ensure your transaction proceeds to its final destination with a following sea. As a result, Ms. Hansen and the Judy Hansen Team make real estate a breeze. 248-4735;


>> Alan N. Rembos, DDS

Most people don’t know about the omitted character in L. Frank Baum’s wonderful book, whose part in the TV special would have been to sing, “If I only

had a smile...” For years, patients with similar songs in their hearts have been coming to Dr. Alan Rembos for cosmetic, implant and general dentistry. Dr. Rembos’ veneers, Invisalign treatments and crowns and bridges leave patients clicking their heels thrice and repeating, “There’s no place like here, there’s no place like here...” 434-0400;


>> Gulfcoast Surgeons Vein Center

When your legs go shopping or go to work, you can keep them covered. But legs headed to the beach are pretty much out on display. If you’re faced with ugly, ropy or painful veins, you can find care and treatment at Gulfcoast Surgeons Vein Center. For swollen or knotty vericose veins, or threadlike spider veins, these highly skilled and renowned surgeons treat you as well as your condition. Get ready to take your legs to the beach; schedule a screening at the Vein Center to see what treatment might be right for you.


>> Family Foot and Leg Center

Most of us take walking for granted. We just put one foot in front of the other and it happens. That’s not true, though, for the many people who experience pain when they walk. At Family Foot and Leg center, they’re devoted to the gift of walking without discomfort, regardless of a patient’s age or social status. They handle everything from emergency trauma to

chronic conditions with treatments ranging from holistic to state-of-the-art technology. Their patients might never take walking for granted again, but they do take walks without pain. 430-FOOT (3668);


>> Brookdale Senior Living

Brookdale Senior Living provides a full spectrum of senior living options, including independent living, personalized assisted living, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, rehabilitation and skilled nursing. Brookdale creates communities where residents are respected and honored for who they are… every day. With locations throughout Florida and more than 645 facilities throughout the country, the staff are experts in providing warm, welcoming environments with plenty to see and do.


>> Great Southern Products

In your home, a little separation is a good thing. And Great Southern Products has what it takes to keep the outside out with decorative doors and windows. Inside the house, Great Southern Products keeps what’s inside the kitchen inside stylish cabinetry. Quality moldings draw the line between walls and ceilings, and milled baseboards separate a wall from the floor. Let Great Southern Products bring all this separation together for your next project. 332-7170;


>> Azar Galleries

When it comes to displaying art, most people only think of their walls. But one of the largest locations for art in your home is on your floors. Azar Galleries has more than 10,000 examples of hand-knotted rugs in stock — the ultimate in art for your floors. And if that’s not enough, they can even custom-make a rug in any colors and any size. When it comes to art in your home, broaden your horizons

and cover your floors with the beautiful rugs you can only find at Azar Galleries.


>> Lennar

With nearly two dozen communities in Southwest Florida, Lennar neighborhood names could populate a crossword puzzle: from Fiddler’s Creek, Heritage Bay and Treviso Bay to Bella Terra, Reflection Lakes and Madison Park. And with that many different locations and unique characteristics, there’s both a community and a home for you. Lennar has nearly 50 years experience not only as one of the nation’s top builders of condominiums, townhomes and single-family homes, but also as a creator of satisfied communities of people like you. If 15 across is “Selection” and 22 down is “Quality,” the answer to both is “Lennar.”


>> American Eagle Mortgage

No matter how many times you purchase a new home or condo, the transaction goes on your lifetime list of “Complicated Deals.” When you’re adding to that list, American Eagle Mortgage can make your role in the deal easy, while they handle the complicated parts. They’ll research the best options, explore the opportunities and bring you the most competitive loan packages available. In fact, with American Eagle’s help, you might start a new lifetime list of “Complicated Deals Made Easier.”


>> Illustrated Properties

Imagine your Village Walk calendar: Start your day with Breakfast Club or a landscape tour, move on to Culinary Club or a ladies luncheon, and wrap up the day with a museum trip or Dessert Night. Imagine these and 18 pages of other activities in the monthly Village Walk Life. And imagine how Joanne Ciesielski or Brian Carey of Illustrated Properties can find you a home in Village Walk where you’ll have a schedule of activities that keeps you as busy and as engaged as you’ve always wanted to be. The pros at Illustrated Properties can show you

aroundd IIslandl d walk and similar great communities to call home throughout the desirable North Naples area.;


>> Law Offices of David Orosz

Ever since we were kids, we’ve been picking people to be on “our side,” for anything from a playground game to a high school team. The stakes are higher for adults, but we still get to pick who’s on our side for issues including Veterans Affairs benefits, Medicaid plans and applications, and wills, deed and trusts. When you need someone on your side for these and other other critical legal issues, the Law Offices of David Orosz offers free consultation. 334-8585.


>> Pottery As Art

This veritable campus of artisan pottery, fountains and sculpture collected from around the world is a kaleidoscopic feast for the senses. On Old 41 just north of Bonita Beach Road, it’s the perfect place to take a peaceful retreat browsing among Asian kilns, old-world Chinese pots and brightly-hued Talavera pottery hand-crafted in the Mexican state of Puebla and Dolores Hidalgo, using techniques passed down since the 16th century. The offerings are varied and the prices reasonable, but the sense of quiet calm leaves you feeling refreshed. 947-8383;


>> Copy Lady

Ever get really steamed at the office when the copy machine misfires? Go ahead and give it the corporal punishment it deserves. Let ’er rip. Then give Copy Lady a call and get the best equipment and service in the business. Founder and CEO Cynthia Duff’s dedication to customer service as Copy Lady, selling and servicing commercial grade digital copier equipment, is par none. It just makes you feel good when she’s around, like having a superhero for all your copying needs. It’s a bird, it’s a plane —no — it’s Copy Lady! Her unmatched two-hour response time, professional staff of technicians and more than a decade serving the Southwest Florida community makes old copy equipment start beeping uncontrollably. Because they know they’re about to get what’s coming. 939-5383;


>> Bella Casa

This sunny South Fort Myers luxury condo community typifies the best of Southwest Florida living. That means picturesque lakes, Mediterranean architecture and expanses of green lending Bella Casa a subtle grace that puts the mind and soul at ease. There are different floor plans to suit any client, and Bella Casa is central to everything: the interstate, beaches, shopping, scenic downtown, golf courses and Florida Gulf Coast University. Get a workout in the exercise room, take a dip in the pool or just lounge around the expansive deck and write a postcard to a friend in Ohio. Be sure to include a weather report from paradise. 288-5117;


>> The Best of Everything

With an assignment to find the “Best Of” in Naples, we could’ve cut significant corners with a single stop at The Best of Everything. Imagine cub reporter Jimmy Olsen telling Daily Planet editor Perry White that he’s completed an assignment to find the best of Naples by opening a single door. The Best of Everything has the best of everything in jewelry (bracelets, necklaces and rings), the best of everything in fashions (handbags, scarves and sunglasses) and the best of everything in gifts (pewter, shell jewelry and cards). Yet we press on to find other superlatives in our fair city. Depending on next year’s budget, we might only come here for the Best of Everything.


>> Clive Daniel Home

Ladies, when it comes to men, most furniture showrooms just don’t get it. Not so at the all-new Clive Daniel Home. While you shop to your heart’s content for fabulous furnishings and accessories for your home, your man can while away the time in the best man cave ever, the showroom theater that’s complete with a beer tap (of course, this assumes that he makes it past the wine bar in the center of the North Naples showroom). Clive Daniel Home combines local knowledge, decades of experience and fine American craftsmanship in a place that anyone can appreciate. Even a man. 261-4663;

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