On the oh, wow, how cool side, Fifth Avenue South in Naples has provided the ambience with flashes of color: original banners on the light poles.
On the, oh, wow, smart idea side, Inn on Fifth owner Phil McCabe and the Business Improvement District put together a COVID-19 vaccination team for Fifth Avenue South employees and their families.
In this way, the BID ensures a strong welcome for visitors to Naples. It blends accessible glamor with quiet behind-the-scenes work to empower Fifth Avenue South as the “City Crown Jewel,” Executive Director of the Business Improvement District, Bruce Barone Jr.
Banners also arouse emotions
Lots of people will experience the cool side on Thursday, June 10, 6:30 PM-9: 30 PM, when the monthly Evenings on Fifth brings visitors and locals alike to Fifth Avenue South to stroll between street concerts and enjoy some food and drink.
The next evenings on the 5th are July 8th, August 12th and September 9th.
You see the new banners, the work of the photographer Samantha Bloom, digitally processed into art. The banners are designed to convey an experience that the viewer can identify with and with an artistic look that gives them a kind of “sentimental and nostalgic,” he said.
“It gives my business a European feel,” added restaurateur Vincenzo Betulia, whose restaurants on Street include Osteria Tulia, The French and Bar Tulia. They invite you to get out and stroll, he says: “This is the main street in our city, and for a business owner I consciously look for both pedestrian and vehicle traffic.”
It is planned to change the banners for the seasons as well. However, the Fifth Avenue South logo will be a constant and appear on every banner.
“They all have a unifying character,” explained Barone. “Some owners wanted to do something unique with their location. You will find that the pictures are made up of architecture, lifestyle pictures, or people you see on Fifth Avenue.”
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Betulia is on one of them with his wife. Caffe Milano owner Luca DiFalco and family as well as Stacie Carroll and her mother Judy Collins, owners / principals of Peach Tree Designs, are also featured on banners, with more to come.
“It’s kind of a recognition of our Faces on Fifth. This has been an ongoing campaign since I became Executive Director here,” said Barone. “The best feedback is from familiar faces when people say ‘I know this person’ or ‘Hey, this is my favorite restaurant.'”
One of the banners brought an unexpected response from the shop itself. The banner that was displayed in the courtyard of Molto Trattoria, 368 Fifth Ave. S., hung up, showed its original cook, an Italian based on the menu who had recently died.
“We put a banner of her, Cooking, in the patio area and it generated such an emotional response. It’s like her angel overlooking the whole garden and patio area. It has brought so much satisfaction to the staff,” said Brooks.
Barone said that on FaceTime installation day, the staff brought out their banner for the family in Italy and had foggy eyes.
“We’re looking for ways to present our people. The families that are here are part of our community, ”he said. And that applies regardless of whether you are a merchant or property owner or not, emphasized Barone.
Some great ideas are not easy to spot
Some of the invisible initiatives were for these people over the past year. The Naples Players offered their Sugden Theater lobby for the Fifth Avenue South pop-up staff member’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic, the brainchild of Phil McCabe, the owner of the Inn on Fifth. It was such a good idea that the group decided to go one step further: they offered two rounds of vaccinations to anyone eligible in the community.
Barone says Fifth Avenue South wasn’t really closed for long during the pandemic. After the state health department lifted its closure orders, stores opened with various levels of masking requirements and roadside service. The initiatives ranged from an intensified social media presence to daily email blasts of menu specials that could be delivered to the customer’s door or curb.
Behind the BID is among other things:
- Valet parking for downtown shoppers. “Ours is still the lowest price in the area,” said Barone. The website FifthAvenueSouth.com lists public parking spaces as well as five concierge booths where people can drop off their cars, spend an evening, and come back to pick them up from a valet service in their car for $ 7 (tip not included).
- A new landscaping plan that would not only unify Fifth Avenue South, but also coordinate with plans to create a more scenic, pedestrian-only intersection at US 41 and Fifth Avenue South.
- The urge to eat on the roof. The Naples City Council has approved a first reading of the concept. Restrictions would keep them 150 meters from apartment buildings and require special permits for entertainment that would limit noise levels.
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This is good news for Larry Liss, owner of The Blue Mussel, a home accessories, gifts, and shell items store: “The food always brings people downtown,” he said.
Liss, on the other hand, is surprised at how well business is already going.
“Our businesses started to recover when the housing industry turned,” he said. And after the inhibition threshold waned when vaccines became available, the demand was astonishing: “Autumn was good. Then we killed him this season.”
He saw the home market doing business well into late spring.
“Our May this year was like our March.” His challenge: to get products from his suppliers who had stopped production and are slowly building up again.
Liss bought the blue mussel in the mid-1990s, expanding the family business on Fifth Avenue South to over 60 years. He is proud of his authenticity: “Whoever comes in here knows immediately that it is not a chain.” And he’s pleased with the trajectory he sees on Fifth Avenue South with more restaurants.
Now we need trees
For Martha Schaub, director of the Native Visions art gallery at 737 Fifth Ave. S., a greener Fifth would complement the new banners.
“Every bank is in the sunlight,” she emphasized in one of her emails to the association. And Barone said he was on their side, but the landscaping and landscaping of Fifth Avenue South isn’t as high on the city’s priority list as its dealers would like it to be. “That’s probably something that is more likely to be considered for 2023 or 2024.”
He’d be happy with the rest of her assessment, however:
“I think this street has a lot of vibrancy and the banners help, as do the lights at Christmas time. It’s always dressed for success, but the new accessories help even more,” she explained.
Emily James, who has run her gallery on Fifth Avenue for 20 years, agrees: “Fifth Avenue has always been a gem and, along with our delightful lifestyle here in Naples, it is developing in a fabulous way.”
Harriet Howard Heithaus reports on arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News / naplesnews.com. You can reach them at 239-213-6091.