Meet Skip Quillen

Fifth Avenue South’s Comeback Kid

Over the last five years, Skip Quillen, owner of Culinary Concepts, which includes three restaurants in Naples on Fifth Avenue South and two more in Bonita Springs and Estero, invested millions of dollars in remodeling or upgrading all five.

As a result, Skip hadn’t had a vacation in ages. So, when he and his girlfriend Loretta decided to take a mid-September cruise on the St. Lawrence Seaway, he was excited to be headed to cooler weather and a relaxing and long-awaited voyage. Then it happened. Fiona, a CAT 4 hurricane that avoided Florida, headed toward Bermuda, and then throttled Canada’s Nova Scotia and Newfoundland with a vengeance.

Above: Chops City Grill

While bobbing around in the St. Lawrence Seaway, Skip learned of something much more terrifying: Hurricane Ian was headed toward the west coast of Florida. Although Ian was supposedly headed for Tampa, Skip had a sick feeling. While it could have been sea sickness from the thrashing their ship was taking from Fiona, he also knew his restaurants were at risk if Ian decided to make landfall south of Tampa. They tried to get off the ship to get back to Naples but had to wait until they entered U.S. waters.

By the time they exited in Boston, Ian had already landed. Skip returned to find he had lost his entire home, which will have to be leveled, and his mom had lost everything in hers, as well as fractured several vertebrae during the storm. Skip knew immediately the restaurants on Fifth Avenue South were in trouble. “When I walked in, I saw how bad it was; the water level mark was 3 ½ feet on the walls of both Pazzo and Chops. Luckily, Yabba had survived,” Skip said. “We had never been through anything like this…so much damage and worse than we could have ever imagined. When bad water and sea water get into the equipment, it destroys everything.”

Skip was determined to reopen before Thanksgiving but trying to get contractors to do the work was an immediate challenge. “There were so many scammers out there,” said Skip. “I had bids as high as $250,000 for each restaurant just to remove the dry wall. Fortunately, I was able to hire some of the contractors who did the original remodel work. They were amazing.”

Above: Pazzo! Cucina Italiana

“Our goal was to get this done within seven weeks, and we did it,” said Skip. “We literally replaced all the dry wall four feet up, new wood for floors and cabinets, and then we had custom finishing done by several artists. Today, Pazzo and Chops are more beautiful and elegant than before Ian. We really hit this out of the park.”

The amazing thing about Skip is that throughout the seven weeks of renovation, he kept his entire staff on the payroll. “Our employees and their families had already been through so much,” Skip said. “Many of them had also lost their homes during Ian. Having them go without a paycheck for that long was just not an option.” Chops and Pazzo combined employ approximately 100 people.

Pazzo! Cucina Italiana, the restaurant’s full name, is a major landmark on Fifth Avenue South. Established by Skip 28 years ago, it is also the oldest and continuously owned Italian restaurant in the City of Naples. A remarkable entrepreneur, Skip, who trained as a chef at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and got his first job in Florida working as a cook for Tony at Ridgway’s, opened Chops City Grill in 1997 and Yabba Island Grill in 2000. Each restaurant seats approximately 50,000 customers each year with around 30,000 each in season. Skip says so far business is down about 25% due to the recession, the hurricane, and a dip in tourism, but he is confident when customers have a chance to dine in the beautiful new interiors that percentage will shrink.

Above: Yabba Island Grill

“The last eight years, we’ve seen one thing after another,” said Skip. “From rent escalations, to seasonal worker shortages and lack of employee housing, it has been challenging. The pandemic was very stressful, but nothing like the hurricane.”

Skip loves being on Fifth Avenue South. In fact, he is credited with the vision of having a Business Improvement District (BID) and proposed it to the city council more than a decade ago. After reading a book about how these public/private partnerships work, which highlighted NYC’s Times Square as a success story, he took the idea to the city council and said, “we can and should do this in Naples.” Today, the Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District drives the Fifth Avenue South’s marketing, events, and special project needs.

“Fifth Avenue South just works…people come here from all around the world,” noted Skip. “Fifth Avenue South is a reflection of the community around it…where there is a sophistication and understanding that to do better is to do good.” Spoken like a true comeback kid!

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Arts, Culture & Entertainment

Join us here on Fifth Avenue South for these upcoming events.

Evenings on Fifth

February 9 | 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

An array of live musical performances up and down the sidewalks of Fifth Avenue South, plus dining, shopping, and more.

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Naples Artcrafters Fine Art & Crafts Show

February 11 | 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Naples Artcrafters is an association of artists and craft artisans that sponsors juried shows in Cambier Park.

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Special Evening on Fifth

February 14 | 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

An array of live musical performances up and down the sidewalks of Fifth Avenue South, plus dining, shopping, and more.

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The Game's Afoot

January 11 to February 5

The Naples Players A murderously funny whodunnit.

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February 8 - March 5

The Naples Players A comedic love triangle.

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The Naples Art Institute's 44th Annual National Art Fair

February 25-26 | 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

View the work of nearly 300 artists from all across the country as they compete in a juried show within Cambier Park and along 8th Street.

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Classic Local Naples Artist Jerry Vallez Works & Reception

Works: February 1 - March 15
Reception: February 3 | 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Norris Center Works by Naples artist Jerry Vallez will be showing at the Norris Center Gallery in Cambier Park from February 1 to March 15 with an opening reception on Friday, February 3.

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Matt Roberts - 42nd Street Magic

February 3 | 4:00 p.m.

Norris Center Magic for ALL AGES! Award-winning magician Matt Roberts will have you alternating between laughter and awe as he presents his one-man brand of sleight of hand, levitation, mind reading, and even a jaw-dropping twist on one of Houdini's famous feats, all in a setting perfectly designed for intimate magic.

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Naples Big Band: Jazz Tribute to Love

February 4 | 7:00 p.m.

Cambier Park Come dance or simply enjoy listening to the dynamic Naples Big Band. A specially crafted set list, packed with your favorite songs, is guaranteed to get you out of your seat and set you up for Valentine's Day.

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Lerner & Loewe's Camelot

February 9 to March 12

Gulfshore Playhouse Return for a brief and shining moment to experience the beloved classic musical as you’ve never seen it before.

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Cars on 5th

February 4 | 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

The 19th annual Cars on 5th Concours will be held on February 4, 2023 on beautiful Fifth Avenue South and is organized by the Naples Chapter of the Ferrari Club of America. As the largest annual one-day event in Naples, Cars on 5th Concours will feature more than 650 cars including more than 150 Ferraris and other exotic, vintage muscle cars and more this year.

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Fifth Avenue South Business' Updates

Journeys 360 Travel

Journeys 360 is a luxury travel agency that strives to provide the best travel service including cruises, safaris, vacation packages, hotels, and business class flights. Special Offer: Book a luxury tour or cruise with Journeys 360 Travel to receive an up to $500 per couple gift card. Certain restrictions apply and is subject to availability. Travel by Dec 31, 2023. Offer expires on Mar 31, 2023. A portion of our earnings from each booking will be donated to Laces of Love.

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Emily James Art Gallery "Wonders of Water"

Please visit our gallery Thursday, February 9 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. and watch as Emily works on one of her newest water pieces. We will be conducting a "Name the Painting" contest. The person with the winning title will receive a 16" x 20" print of the painting. The contest will start Thursday, February 9, and run through the weekend, ending on February 12.

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Call Of Africa's Native Visions Galleries

New masterpieces by South African Artist Jaco van Schalkwyk.

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Visit us in February for our latest designer events. Customize a hand-painted dress on February 2-4, and meet with a Turkish designer, Rabia Turgay, as she showcases her newest collection on February 17 and 18. In store only at 375 Fifth Avenue South.

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Emillions Art "Mosaic Of Memories: The Naples Pier Project"

The period for photo submission has been extended. Submit your photos now to be included.

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In The News

Don’t Miss This Valentine’s Day Treat

It’s 2023 and The Naples Players (TNP) is gearing up for the last three shows of the 2022-2023 season, and the last before the renovation of their facility! To familiarize audiences with the upcoming offsite space, TNP will be producing the comedic play Sylvia before the current season is over in the offsite location...

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Pazzo’s Vintage Art Posters Bring Guests Closer To Italian Culture And Traditions

Curated collection of beautiful illustrations showing Italian liquors, foods and coastal towns bring a vibrancy and intimacy to the dining room spaces. Cosi si mangia a Napoli! Translation: This is how we eat in Naples! A meaningful interior...

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Dine on Fifth

Join us here on Fifth Avenue South for a great meal.

See All Restaurants on 5th


Shop on Fifth

Shop a variety of stores here on Fifth Avenue South.

See All Shops on 5th


Play on Fifth

Join us here on Fifth Avenue South for some fun.

See All the Ways to Play on 5th


Concierge Services on Fifth

Many concierge services are offered right here on Fifth Avenue South.

See All Services on 5th


Fifth Avenue South | The Crown Jewel of Naples

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649 Fifth Avenue South I Naples, Florida 34102

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