Q: I went to L'Etoile at the end of May with my recently purchased Groupon coupon. Closed up tight!
— Nancy, North Naples
Q: What happened to L'Etoile? They sold 130 Groupons for dinners at their restaurant on April 29, and by May 15 had a sign up on the door "Closed for season." Interesting! We were planning to go there for our wedding anniversary dinner until they were impossible to get hold of by phone to make a reservation and then most unlikely when we tried in person at the restaurant.
— S. Ray, Naples
Q: Did L'Etoile in Naples close? I know they would be closed for summer, but appears there is a "for lease" sign posted now. They were doing a lot of promotions through Groupon and LivingSocial after season. Hopefully, those customers get their money refunded, if they did close.
— Alys, Naples
A: L'Etoile, a French restaurant, closed in early May after operating for only six months at 10711 U.S. 41 N. in North Naples. Since early July, the 3,500-square-foot, free-standing building has been available for lease.
When they relocated last year from North Carolina, L'Etoile owners Marc-Jean and Patricia Berruet initially had planned to keep open their Outer Banks restaurant, The Pearl, during opposite seasons from their Naples eatery, that had planned to close during the summer. But when they permanently closed the Kill Devil Hills, N.C., restaurant after its fourth season, the Berruets announced that L'Etoile would stay open year round, except for maybe a week or so during vacations.
But, in early May, a handwritten sign was posted on L'Etoile's main entrance: "Closed for the season. See you Aug. 15!" Likewise, a telephone recording said the restaurant was closed for summer vacation. But, instead, the restaurant closed permanently.
The Berruets could not be reached for comment regarding the closing or their plans.
Online deal-making firms Groupon and LivingSocial both have policies that address concerns about businesses closing before purchased discounts are redeemed.
"If anything happens that makes it impossible for you to redeem your Groupon, we'll make sure you get your money back," Groupon promises participants. "If a business closes permanently, we will always honor returns for unredeemed Groupons."
LivingSocial also clearly addresses unexpected closings.
"We provide refunds upon request in cases where you are unable to redeem a voucher because the merchant has gone out of business before the promotional period ends," according to LivingSocial's refund policy.
L'Etoile joins a smorgasbord of restaurants that have opened and closed on the northwest corner of 107th Avenue North a few blocks south of Immokalee Road. The old Heidelberg Restaurant occupied the space for many years and is probably best remembered for that spot. That address also has been home to Mr. G's Italian Restaurant and Rudi's European Cuisine.
Q: When will the Counter burger joint be opening in Mercato? They projected the opening to be in late June, but that date has already passed. Will this be another Chipotle story of opening months later than planned?
While I am at it, do you know any of the information on the wine bar that is opening in Mercato as well? I think it is called The Wine Loft?
— Ryan Rataj, Naples
A: Workers have been busy readying the area's first location of The Counter Custom Built Burgers, now targeted to open Aug. 18 in the same Mercato block as Bravo! Cucina Italiana, said Andres Layrisse, the local franchisee for The Counter.
While, of course, initial plans called for The Counter opening in late June, and then mid-July, many local development projects are more often late than not, so don't draw any conclusions yet because of delays.
The permanent sign recently went up on the 1,300-square-foot corner store on Strada Place.
This may be one of those places where you may need a little more time to do your homework anyway. With the possibility of more than 312,000 different burger combinations, it may be best to go online to familiarize yourself with the extensive menu of gourmet ingredients before you arrive awestruck.
The California-based chain gives patrons a clipboard to check off items wanted on each burger. Choose among beef, turkey, chicken and veggie burgers, burger size, type of bun, 12 cheeses, 20 sauce options, four of 20 different toppings, and from nine premium toppings such as a fried egg, avocado or sautéed mushrooms.
A local job fair for the Counter will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Friday at 9115 Strada Place, suite 5130, across from the new restaurant in Mercato. The eatery is hiring for all positions, and managers will interview applicants when they apply.
Meanwhile, just down the street in Mercato, The Wine Loft wine bar is coming soon next to AZN Azian Cuizine and on the ground level beneath the Silverspot Cinema. Additional information about the wine bar is not available yet, but expect updates here soon.
More local restaurant news
■ Steamers seafood restaurant got a little steamy Friday in Bed Bath & Beyond Plaza, but the North Naples restaurant was able to stay open after a vehicle crashed through its front window.
On Friday afternoon, an 84-year-old patron stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake while picking up a carryout order, and her vehicle jumped the curb and drove through the restaurant's plate-glass window, according to Steamers co-owner Michelle Mattia.
"She was coming for the great chowder," Mattia said, laughing, noting she can laugh about the incident now because nobody was hurt in the crash.
The window was fixed after the 3:45 p.m. accident, so the restaurant was back to normal for its dinner shift. The huge outside opening let the heat and humidity in and the air conditioning out for a short time, but the restaurant didn't close, Mattia said.
Ironically, the taxicab called for the woman who crashed into Steamers was involved in another crash in the shopping center while coming to pick her up, said Mattia, who ended up taking the woman home herself.
"This is the first time something like this has happened in the 12 years Steamers has been open," she said.
Steamers, 5317 Airport-Pulling Road N., is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 239-593-3388
■ Refresh, a fast-casual lunch and dinner venue serving sandwiches, salads, wraps and smoothies, opened July 9 next to Pei Wei Asian Diner in the Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt in North Naples. That space at 2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road has been vacant since Salad Creations closed in November 2010 after operating its healthier alternative to traditional fast food fare for about three years.
Refresh's menu, promoted as "where great taste gets together with nutrition," leads with sandwiches — such as Pesto Club, Zangy Tangy Roast Beef, Yo Turkey and Totally Tuna — on toasted Ciabatta rolls or multigrain bread in a price range of $5.99 to $7.99. A choice of seven wraps is available at $6.99 each. All sandwiches and wraps are served with SunChips, Refresh slaw or "our soon to be famous edamame salad," the menu notes.
Salads, ranging from an ordinary Caesar salad at $5.99 to one with wild Alaskan salmon for $10.99.
Smoothies, regularly $4.99 for a 24-ounce cup, but only $2.99 when added to a sandwich, wrap or salad, are available in more than a dozen flavor combos. Sunshine includes strawberry, mango, pineapple and orange; Big Blue has banana, strawberry and blueberry; The Refresh smoothie has banana, strawberry and pineapple.
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"In the Know" is published Mondays and Wednesdays in the Naples Daily News. Find a complete archive of "In the Know" columns at naplesnews.com/intheknow.