How one of Fifth Avenue South’s Greatest Restaurants Reopened with a New Look and a New Sound
July 13, 2020
Vergina restaurant balances the joy of dining with the new realities of covid-19
Naples, FL: (July 13, 2020) . . . Naples’ legendary Vergina Restaurant on Fifth Avenue South has reopened with a new look and a new sound according to Bruce Barone, Jr., executive director of the Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District (BID). Barone notes the award-winning Vergina is one of Fifth Avenue’s long-established restaurants consistently providing year-round live nightly entertainment and monthly dinner shows with global performing artists like operatic tenor Ghaleb and Flamenco guitarist and dancer Luis Mejia.
“When the stay at home order was announced and our restaurant closed, we decided to use the interim to refresh and breathe new life into the restaurant,” says Vergina general manager Eric Tancredi. “We began with a few cosmetic upgrades in the main dining room as the enormous marble columns were removed to open the space and create an airy and light feeling.
“Our music and entertainment was upgraded thanks to the installation of a new advanced sound and lighting system in the bar area to provide clear, balanced music and enhanced lighting on the dance floor. The kitchen was overhauled with new flooring, equipment and prep stations,” he adds.
In a town where Italian cuisine and market-adjacent restaurants have proliferated, Vergina feels modern European with clean lines in both the food and the new decor. The menu tempts a wide range of palates with gourmet pastas and specialty dishes with a strong emphasis on seafood supplied mostly by the local fisherman. It is authentic Italian cuisine but also a variety of popular Mediterranean dishes with modern flair are served in an eleganct environment where old world quality meets new world innovation.
To bring diners back, Tancredi knew he needed to make them feel safe. He’s adhering to guidelines set down by the government like distancing measures where there needs to be a six feet between all guests, which is easy for Vergina because the dining room’s newly reconfiguration conforms to that rule already. What’s more difficult is that part of Vergina’s charm is its table side flourishes. For the time being, they will not be allowed to sauce and prepare dishes at the table, so some of the theater will go away.
“As an industry, a founding principle for restaurateurs is to take care of other people,” says Tancredi. “While there is reduced occupancy in the dining rooms and bar areas of our restaurant, we are balancing the joy of dining with the new realities of covid,” he explains adding that there’s sanitizer everywhere for guests and staff, routine body temperature test for employees before shifts, employees are provided with disposable face masks and shields, Plexiglas at all customer touch points and the use of masks in public areas.
“To help reduce contact, we’ve added a QR code to every table and at our hostess station so customers may use their phone to go straight to our menu without needing a physical menu. You can also visit our website or hit the Menu button on our Facebook page to see a menu as well. Physical menus are still available on request,” he adds.
Along with online menus and online ordering, online payment will continue to be important, both for convenience and safety. In fact, paying online for pickup or delivery means no one has to exchange (or touch) money. Receipts don’t have to be signed. It removes another layer of contact between restaurant and customer. Touch less and limited touch payment is also becoming more prevalent for dine-in. Vergina has already implemented table side payment. Servers bring tablet computers or other electronic devices so credit cards never leave guests’ hands.
Vergina Restaurant offers live entertainment nightly starting at 8:30 pm, lunch and dinner, happy hour daily (3 pm – 5 pm) with 50% discount, late night dessert and bar menu. Open seven days a week 11:30 am until 2 am. For more information and reservations, call (239) 659-7008 or online www.verginarestaurant.com.