by Yvonne Ayala McClellan
It’s not often a thriving restaurant with 16 years under its belt reinvents itself, yet that’s exactly what Yabba Island Grill had undertaken this winter.
Yabba overhauled its entire concept creating a new menu and renovating the restaurant from floor to ceiling to deliver an alluring atmosphere and affordable dining on 5th Avenue South. It’s given Yabba a fresh sophistication and now, as an affordable steakhouse with a Southwest Florida vibe, the restaurant has received rave reviews and praise from locals and tourists alike.
The community response to the renovation and new menu has been impressive. Since Yabba hosted its Grand Reopening on February 23, sales have been up a whopping 20 percent!
It’s no surprise to Naples resident Norma Gershen. Since late February, Gershen has
dined at the restaurant four times and has embraced its sophisticated new look and menu. Transitioning from a tropical theme to sultry blues and rich wood tones appealed to her much more.
“The new look is fabulous!” Gershen said. “It’s essentially a brand new restaurant and is more calming and feels much more upscale than it did.”
It’s the kind of response owner Skip Quillen was looking for and felt the Naples community really wanted and needed.
“The transition hit the mark on all cylinders and we accomplished our goal – to create a restaurant that’s sexy and refined where you can enjoy an incredible dinner on 5th Avenue without breaking the bank,” Quillen said.
The menu has transformed as much as the restaurant has, offering an impressive array of entrées, fresh Florida stone crab claws, sushi, fun appetizers, and salads with an emphasis on wet-aged steaks.
When the menu was redesigned, steaks took center stage.
Over the years, as Quillen kept tabs on the influx of restaurants and steakhouse chains in Southwest Florida, he noticed they were selling wet-aged steaks at the same price as dry-aged steaks, which are a far superior product. Considering the value Chops City Grill offers for its premium in-house, dry-aged steaks – something only roughly five percent of steakhouses in the country do –
Quillen wanted to emphasize wet-aged steaks for the “grill” at Yabba.
“I felt the marketplace could use a casual steakhouse that is more affordable when compared to Ruth’s Chris, Fleming’s and Truluck’s,” Quillen said. “Our steaks are up to 30 percent less than competitors and we’re selling the exact same thing.”
Naples resident Slone DeLong has appreciated the value of the new menu, and really noticed the reasonable prices and eclectic and creative range of dishes on her last few visits.
“At a lot of restaurants downtown, you are kind of shocked at the price and you don’t get much bang for your buck,” DeLong said. “Especially with the ambiance of 5th Avenue, I think Yabba has the perfect price point for the quality of food you receive. It’s a much more affordable option for people.”
When DeLong has dined at Yabba, she usually gravitates to the seafood, whether it’s a special catch of the day, fresh shucked oysters, or stone crab claws.
“Recently, I had the special and it was the tile fish,” she said about Yabba. “It was absolutely amazing and I actually called my friends to tell them how delicious it was and said, ‘When you come and visit me, I have to take you here so you can try it.’ ”
While the restaurant has a huge menu where everyone can find something to love, the atmosphere of the bar and the eclectic cocktails on the menu really stood out for her.
“It’s such a fun place to chill and relax with your friends,” DeLong said. “It’s sophisticated and super welcoming.”
And that’s just the reinvention 5th Avenue needed.
SUMMER DINING SAVINGS
Culinary Concepts’ restaurants have sweet new prices for summer!
• Pazzo! Cucina Italiana
853 5th Avenue South, Naples, 10
entrees under $20 all night long!
• Blue Water Bistro
at Coconut Point, 23151 Village Shops
Way, Ste 109, Estero, starting June 1st,
prices slashed up to an incredible 50
percent off its entire menu!
• Chops City Grill Bonita
8200 Health Center Boulevard, Bonita
Springs, starting in late May 10 entrees
under $20 all night long!
Check Culinary Concept’s website at www.gr8food.net for updated pricing, times and dining deals