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Living the Sweet Life: International Dining, Best Bakeries & Eateries

Sweet Life Making dessert is no piece of cake



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contents SEPTEMBER 2013











Estero Eats: Flavors From Around the Globe A culinary adventure around the world from Europe to the Orient



Geronemus Smit ART DIRECTOR Alexander Hernandez GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jason D’Auria MARKETING


Gorging in a Garage The latest Model A eatery adds class to the typical beer-andburger joint






Back to School in a Big Way A look at what’s new from elementary to high school



Cummings Gates, Bruce Turkel


Laura Cummings Gates Downtown Photo/Fort Lauderdale Dreamfocus Photography



Sweet Life: Making Dessert is No Piece of Cake The artistry behind gourmet treats from your local culinary artisans

ADVERTISING SALES Gary Israel Jill Horowitz Rona Levenson Sally Nicholas Beth Tache


Estero Chamber of Commerce







3511 W. Commercial Blvd., Suite 200 Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33309 954.377.9470 | fax 954.377.9418 ©2013 Lifestyle Magazines are published by Lifestyle Media Group, all rights reserved. Lifestyle Magazine is a monthly advertising magazine. All contents are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced without written consent from the publisher. The advertiser is solely responsible for ad content and holds publisher harmless from any error. responsible for ad content and holds publisher harmless from any error.


It’s about a desired convention… a convention meant to In our world, capture the luxury and bliss of the Southwest Florida lifestyle. SURF& TURF If you’re dreaming of beautiful white sand beaches and pristine courses in natural preserve settings, you’ve come to the isn’t about cuisine. golf right place.

Welcome to the Lifestyle. Our featured communities include: Miromar tWest Bay tGrandezza tThe Brooks tWildcat Run Judi Gietzen

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Cell: 239-405-3503

Assisting Buyers, Sellers, Investors & International Clients

2013 BEAR Executive Secretary 2013 WCR District 5 Vice President 2012 President, WCR Bonita Springs-Estero 2012 Board of Director Bonita Springs-Estero Board of Directors 2012 Estero Chamber of Commerce Membership Chairman 2012, 2011, 2010, 2008-2006 Top Producer Award 2012 WCR Realtor Member of the Year Award recipient 2012 WCR Entrepreneur of Year Award recipient


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2013 WCR Bonita-Estero VP of Membership 2012 WCR Bonita Springs - Estero Community Outreach Chair 2012 WCR Rising Star Award recipient Assisting Buyers, Sellers, Investors & International Clients 21105 Design Parc Lane, Suite 3, Estero, FL 33928 ESTEROLIFESTYLEMAG.COM | SEPTEMBER 2013


september 2013

from the publisher


HAPPY BIRTHDAY! CELEBRATING OUR 3RD ANNIVERSARY! Thanks, Estero, for welcoming Estero Lifestyle Magazine into your homes and making us part of your lives. I can still remember the initial comments from our readers as we launched in September 2010. The overwhelming response was… “Congratulations, Estero Lifestyle Magazine, for finally giving Estero something to call its own. At last someone recognizes that Estero can stand on its own merits and no longer needs to be lumped into Bonita Springs or South Ft. Myers as so many other publications continue to do. And we applaud your advertisers for recognizing that as well!!” Although at times we reach out beyond our community to bring you dining, businesses and people making a difference that we hope you will appreciate, our mission remains today, as it was three years ago, to bring you the people, places and events that contribute to making the Estero ‘lifestyle’ all it can be. And look at many changes to our community in just three short years!! We have uncovered so many interesting people in and around our community. We have delighted in bringing you the area’s finest dining as well as community and philanthropic activities that make the Estero ‘lifestyle’ so meaningful. We have been the proud voice promoting all that is good in Estero. We have brought to life the excitement on ice of the Florida Everblades, the non-stop successes of Florida Gulf Coast University athletics (Go Dunk City!!), the dozens of programs


and activities at our area shopping meccas, Germain Arena and our own Estero Community Park as well as the many, many people who are making a difference in our community. We have strived to offer you the ‘best of the best.’ We hope you have enjoyed the ride and will continue to do so. We remain focused on our mission. Much of this month’s issue is dedicated to food. Our cover story is dedicated to the ‘sweet tooth’ in almost all of us!! From cupcakes to donuts and pastries. And from macaroons to chocolates and truffles you will learn a satisfying solution for sweets. This area also offers a multitude of flavors from around the world. Enjoy just a few selections that we have uncovered. And, we have a new ‘neighbor’ moving in this month at Miromar Outlets. Ford’s Garage is bringing its highly detailed, themed restaurant to Estero. Burgers will never be the same!! As we wind down with the last

‘official’ holiday of the summer (and the heat too!) and head into the busy fall and winter seasons, I would like to thank all of our wonderful advertising partners over these past three years. You have enabled us to have a tremendous impact on our community. And to our faithful readers, I want to thank you for the amazing support. I appreciate your kind words and compliments as well as your encouragement and many suggestions. After all, Estero Lifestyle is for all of you!! As always, you can reach me at Until next month, remember to… Enjoy the Lifestyle

Gary Gary Israel, Publisher Estero Lifestyle Magazine

Back to school in a big way Estero adds teachers, classes, and more this year By Laura J. Cummings Gates

As Estero students return to the classroom this fall, they’ll find a few changes, including some new friends – because all of Estero’s K-12 schools increased student enrollment this year. Here’s a look at what’s new, from elementary to high school…

graders. The entire team participated in an A+ Celebration Day and dubbed Pinewoods “Dunk City Elementary.” What makes Pinewoods Elementary unique? “While we are a big school with over 900 students and 100 staff members, we have a small school feel,” Principal Gunderson says. “We care about each other, celebrate each other’s successes and help one another when needed.”

maps through “Big Ideas.” The plans will be submitted to the School District and the Core Knowledge Foundation for approval in August, as the school prepares for a site visit from the Foundation this Fall. What makes Three Oaks Elementary unique? “When a child enrolls at Three Oaks Elementary, the entire family becomes part of our school family,” Principal Parks says. “We will all do whatever we can to ensure that our students are happy, challenged and successful. The friendships and relationships are everlasting.”

PINEWOODS ELEMENTARY Principal: Leslie Gunderson 2013-14 Enrollment: Approx. 950 (+60 from last year) Pinewoods will celebrate its 20th birthday this year. Imagine the thousands of children who have walked through those doors. The entire county will be using new texts in both reading and math. Teachers will be engaged in training at the beginning of August on the implementation of Reading Street and Go Math. Pinewoods teachers reported back to work early to attend Kagan Cooperative Learning training. This training is about engaging students in their learning and working cooperatively with one another. It’s a research-based program proven to increase academic achievement. New Nickname Members of the Florida Gulf Coast University Men’s Basketball team visit each week to read with third


THREE OAKS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Principal: Vicki Parks 2013-14 Enrollment: 804 (+23 from last year) A new addition to the administration is Assistant Principal Brian Geise. Speaking of additions, the school has added classrooms for 1st – 3rd grades, with eight classes each.

THREE OAKS MIDDLE SCHOOL Principal: Michael Carson 2013-14 enrollment: 947 (+55 from last year)

Curriculum Updates The school is renewing its status as a National Core Knowledge visitation site. Grade level teams of teachers have been working to integrate The Core Knowledge Foundation’s sequence with the state of Florida’s requirements for the Common Core Standards. Teachers are writing curriculum

Two new teachers come on board (making 55 full-time teachers), and the media center is being remodeled to accommodate a computer lab moved from a classroom. This provides additional classroom space to meet the demands of increased student enrollment. Also new: Cape Academy will allow students to test for certification in Microsoft PowerPoint and Word. And


three Oaks Middle tied with Gateway Elementary for the highest number of students (30) in the district with a perfect score on the FCAT.

New Staff and Courses Estero is adding four Teacher Leader positions. Teacher Leaders will assist teachers in the classroom, model best practices and assist in staff-wide professional development. Estero Football looks forward to another winning season with new Football Coach Mark Jackson. As the Hospitality and Tourism Academy and AICE (Cambridge) program grow, new classes are being added. Sports Marketing will be offered through the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism, and AICE Photography will be offered through the Cambridge Program.

What makes Three Oaks Middle School unique? “Three Oaks Middle School is family oriented, with the focus on high expectations for student learning while providing opportunities in advanced and gifted classes, technology, orchestra, chorus, jazz band, guitar, clubs, sports and events,” Principal Carson says.

ESTERO HIGH SCHOOL Principal: George Clover 2013-14 Enrollment: 1,689 (+100 from last year) The EHS cafeteria has been renovated and updated to allow for additional, modern serving lines and seating. Meanwhile, with the help of administration, boosters and student government, a new, 2 ½-story band tower has been constructed for conducting marching band and

auxiliary practices and perfecting marching formations. Estero also has a new band director. Speaking of towers: JROTC’s repelling tower and leadership obstacles are now up and running.

What makes Estero High unique? “Our talented students, dedicated athletes, caring staff and supportive community make Estero a truly special school,” Assistant Principal Kathleen Jasper says.



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ESTERO EATS: Flavors from around the globe By Laura J. Cummings Gates

Feeling adventurous? Couldn’t get away for the summer? Here’s some good news: You can enjoy the flavors and feel of international travel, all within 10 miles of home. While steak and seafood dinners are nice, sometimes our taste buds cry out for something new. Take a trip around the globe with us, as we sample the international cuisine of Southwest Florida. We set out to find authentic flavors. No Americanized versions. We wanted the real deal: Restaurants owned and operated by immigrant families, bringing their generational recipes from the motherland straight to our table. We found our palates pleasured by new sauces and seasonings made from spices and herbs rarely used stateside. On our journey, we visited Europe, the Mediterranean, the Orient, and the islands of the Pacific. Join us on this culinary adventure around the globe in less than 20 minutes.



Best Break from Shopping FRANCE: BON APPETIT FRENCH BISTRO Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero Entrees: $13 - $17 Although you’ll find Bon Appetit in the middle of the Miromar Outlets food court near Playland, this French Bistro is a world away from the bustle of busy shoppers. The sunlit outdoor patio and lacecurtained cafe invite passersby to linger over some crepes and coffee. When you enter, you’re sure to be greeted with a hearty, “Bonjour!” Owners Jean-Jacques Chabert and his wife France Maurice relocated to Southwest Florida from the Provence region of Southern France about three years ago. “We know the French kitchen,” Jean-Jacques says in his thick accent. “We try to have the same service as we have in France.” The owners love to talk with guests who have traveled the French countryside. A photo of a lush field of lavender, taken from their home in France, adorns the wall inside the bistro and serves as a conversation starter. For those who speak their native language, Chabert and Maurice host an hour of French conversation every third Friday of the month. They invite guests to sip some Pinot Noir and relax with friends as they experience a bit of France in the midst of the mall. One dish to try at Bon Appetit is the Coq au Vin, starring baked chicken in a homemade wine sauce, served with a baguette and gratin dauphinois (a creamy potato dish from the Dauphine region of southeast France). The traditional crepes come in sweet or salty, serving as entrees when paired with smoked salmon or ham and eggs. Top off the experience with a sweet profiterole dessert, featuring choux pastry balls filled with ice cream and topped with chocolate ganache and whipped cream.

Best Date-Night Location THAILAND: SUSHI-THAI TOO 25301 Tamiami Trail S., Bonita Springs Entrees: $12 - $27 Before ever hitting the front door of Sushi-Thai Too, the stage is set for a relaxing and elegant evening, with lush plantings lining the walkway. Once inside, the soft oriental music and organic decor create a sense of peacefulness. The owners, Chef Sathit “Todd” Boonyavairoj and his wife, Torong, hail from Thailand, delivering traditional recipes like Thai Curry and Pad Thai Noodles. Adding dimension to the experience, they’ve also brought in a team of sushi chefs, along with an array of Japanese menu items. The diversity of the menu may prove slightly overwhelming to those unfamiliar with Asian cuisine, but the friendly staff is happy to educate novices on the differences between Pad See-ew and Pad Lad noodles, or sushi and sashimi. Most of the staff, including the general manager, go by American nicknames. “Pop” (much easier to pronounce than Chinnapron-Thienth Ongkham) immediately puts guests at ease with his genuine smile and willingness to please. The most popular menu items include Thai Curry, Pad Kee Mao Noodles, and the Spicy Tuna Roll. Many customers order from both the Thai and Japanese sides of the menu, experiencing a fusion of flavorful dishes. Despite its reputation, many Thai dishes are not overly spicy – although they’re served with spices and condiments on the side, for those who appreciate more heat.

Best Place for Quiet Conversation GREECE: ZORBA’S GREEK RESTAURANT 9106 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs Entrees: $13 - $26 The hostess may not be the first to greet you as you enter Zorba’s. “Whatcha doin’?” calls Georgie, the friendly green parrot, from his perch outside the front door. The 8-year-old parrot is a fixture of Zorba’s and one of the few things that didn’t change with the restaurant’s remodel last fall. The small stone pillars and statuettes, rich wooden booths, Greek music, and paintings of the Greek countryside invite guests to experience Mediterranean cuisine in a relaxed and peaceful place. Owner Polixeni Euse carries on the tradition started by her parents, Sofia and Panagiotis Vardoulias.

“The owners were born and raised in Greece, and they learned all their recipes from their parents, passed on from generation to generation,” Euse says. While the updated menu includes some “modern” Greek dishes, like Orzo Me Thalasina, most of the menu centers on traditional Greek fare. Octapodi (grilled octopus) is the No. 1 menu item. This delicacy is marinated in lemon juice and Mediterranean spices for 24 hours before grilling. Other popular menu items include tender Lamb Chops, Dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves) and Souvlaki – pork tenderloin medallions skewered with grilled onions, peppers and tomatoes, served over a grilled pita. Zorba’s is closed the first two weeks of September but reopens the third week, bringing in roving belly dancers during season (late October through May) on Friday and Saturday nights.

Best Place to Meet up with Friends ITALY: MARSALA ITALIAN EATERY & PIZZERIA 20321 Grande Oaks Shoppes Dr., Estero Entrees: $13 - $21 Stephen Marsala grew up in a large Italian family. His father was a Sicilian immigrant who landed in New York in January 1963 and liked to cook big Italian meals. “The food we serve is just like we ate at home,” Marsala says. Marsala’s is a family business, with several of the brothers operating as partners. Stephen is the general manager and the face of Marsala’s. He treats his guests like family and loves when his Northeast customers tell him the pizza or pasta tastes better than back home. Marsala’s serves authentic New York-style

pizza and has quite a local following. Some of the favorite entrees at Marsala’s include Pasta a la Vodka, Pasta Bolognese, and the selection of veal dishes: Veal Parmigiana, Veal Marsala, Veal Picatta, Veal Francese and Veal with Artichoke Hearts. Don’t leave without trying the garlic knots, served soft and buttery fresh from the brick oven. Top off your experience with a sweet classic Italian treat like tiramisu, cannoli, or spumoni.



Best Fusion of Flavors HAWAII: ROY’S HAWAIIAN FUSION CUISINE 26831 South Bay Dr., Bonita Springs Entrees: $20 - $40

Best Lunch Break Location MEXICO: TORTILLERIA LA RANCHERITA 26751 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs Entrees: $7 - $12 Many travelers of Bonita’s main thoroughfare might never have noticed Tortilleria La Rancherita, tucked back from the road in the Hispanic part of town. If you’re looking for ambiance, this isn’t the place. But for those in search of flavorful and authentic Mexican food, it’s worth stopping in. Owned by Chef Paul Judice and his wife Yesenia, this is a tortilla store, Mexican market, and restaurant wrapped into one. The corn tortilla machine in the back produces about 5,000 fresh and hot tortillas daily, which are sold by the kilogram. The tortilleria also sells flour tortillas made at a sister location in Immokalee. While tortillerias are found on every street corner in Mexico, they’re rare in the United States and missed by many Central American immigrants. When Paul married Yesenia, a former migrant worker from Hidalgo, Mexico, he recognized the need for a local tortilla shop. The couple also wanted to bring authentic Mexican fare to the table, which they have been successfully doing for 14 years. The corn tortillas add flavor and texture to tacos and other dishes. The restaurant offers no formal dinnerware – disposable plates and utensil help keep prices low – but it does offer a genuine taste of Mexico. The flavors are deliciously loud (the heat can be toned down upon request). Don’t miss the homemade guacamole, chockfull of chunky avocado. Also try the flautas (crispy flutes) filled with chicken or shredded beef and topped with Mexican cream.



Thankfully, Roy Yamaguchi wasn’t good at sports. “He went into home economics instead; now he has an empire,” says Wade Lowe, general manager of Roy’s, which specializes in fine seafood with an Asian flare. Award-winning Chef Yamaguchi owns 31 restaurants – most in Hawaii, Florida, and California, with one in Japan and one in Guam. Having trained at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, the Japanese-born Yamaguchi returned to his roots for inspiration, creating what he calls “Hawaiian Fusion” cuisine. The magical combination of European techniques, Asian flavors, and Hawaiian hospitality results in a dining experience unlike anything offered elsewhere. A local favorite is the Hawaiian Style Misoyaki Butterfish, a mild Alaskan cod, marinated in lemon ginger soy sauce for up to 24 hours before it’s baked. “It becomes a very buttery, creamy, rich-flavored dish without the strong seafood flavor,” Lowe says. Rivaling the Butterfish in popularity is a Bonita exclusive, created by Chef Jason Grasty. The Pink Peppercorn & Herb Crusted Halibut stars another flaky whitefish, seasoned and served atop a tantalizing blend of sauteed vegetables and parmesan gnocchi. The melted cheese and buttery, yet earthy, sauce – Shiitake Scampi Beurre Blanc – make this one delectable dish. Menu items change seasonally, and other seafood favorites include the Crispy Whole Snapper, featuring fish caught locally in the Keys. The Aloha Hour, from 4-6 p.m., brings $6 appetizers and drinks. Don’t miss the Crunchy Golden Lobster Potstickers, served with spicy Togarashi Miso Butter sauce.

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To make a donation, please visit ESTEROLIFESTYLEMAG.COM | SEPTEMBER 2013




Sweet Life making dessert is no piece of cake By Laura J. Cummings Gates

Satisfying a sweet tooth is easy in Southwest Florida. Whether it’s cupcakes, donuts, truffles, or pastries, you don’t have to drive far for gourmet treats. Making tasty desserts takes much longer than eating them. Local bakers start working long before sunrise to produce fresh bread and cakes each morning. And that’s only half the job. Here are the stories behind some artisans who decorate their treats with style, presenting desserts that are as lovely as they are tasty…



From Accounting to Cupcakes our years ago Grace Bolen left corporate life and entered the sweet life. She traded her briefcase for an apron and opened a cupcake shop in Naples. “I’ve always loved sweets,” she says. “I’m the kind of person who likes to check out the dessert menu before the regular menu and plan my meal around that.” Today, Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes has five locations in Southwest Florida, including one at Coconut Point Mall. A sixth is opening this month in Milwaukee, the hometown of Bolen’s business partner, Shelly Stayer. Bolen’s background in finance and accounting helps with running the business, but when it comes to the creative side, Bolen is self-taught. “I’ve always been kind of a foodie,” she says. “I love to try different things.” Grace & Shelly’s makes about 40 different cupcake flavors, each topped with a scrumptious swirl of icing and delectably decorated. About 15




flavors are featured in the store each day on a rotating schedule. For a small sampling of sweetness, there are miniature cupcakes, which Bolen refers to as “shooters.” Regular-sized cupcakes are $3.45 apiece, with discounts on larger quantities. Grace & Shelly’s also offers double-sized jumbo cupcakes, as well as giant cupcakes – the equivalent of a small cake. They’re especially popular for birthdays and bridal or baby showers, Bolen says. The store also sells Royal Scoop ice cream. Bolen oversees daily operations at all five locations, and Stayer concentrates on marketing the brand. Sharing a passion for sweets, the two paired up in 2011. While Bolen has hired bakers and decorators to help with the growing business, she still takes the lead for special events. “I like to personally take care of all the weddings and large party orders,” she says.

Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes Coconut Point Mall (23151 Village Shops Way, #113) 239.949.9797 Happy Hour: 25 percent off dinein from 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday

When Bolen opened Gracie’s Cupcakes in 2009, she would start baking at 5 a.m., then decorate until the shop opened at 11. Cupcakes are still baked fresh daily at the Naples Fifth Avenue and Bell Tower Shops locations (and delivered to other locations each morning). Best-selling flavors include Red Velvet, Brown Sugar Caramel, and Coconut Snowball. New flavors are developed from customer suggestions and experimentation of the baking staff. Bolen’s 11-year old daughter, Isabelle, created Izzy’s Chocolate Chip. “It tastes very much like a chocolate chip cookie,” Bolen says. “It combines all the things she loves.” One of the most unusual flavors is Maple Bacon, served on the weekends. It’s vanilla cake topped with maple cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with cinnamon and bacon. “It’s almost like breakfast,” Bolen says. “I think the sweet-and-salty combination is really popular.” Grace & Shelly’s has been featured on TLC’s “Cake Boss,” and their cupcakes have been enjoyed by celebrities like Glenn Beck. The Coconut Point store is located between Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Bice Grand Cafe and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.



Early to bread, early to Rise hat’s life without fresh baked bread? Passed down through four generations, baking bread and pastries has been a way of life for the Olesen family. Kevin Olesen grew up in his family’s bakery in Wisconsin. Now he and his father Michael have brought this family tradition to Bonita Springs. They begin baking at midnight and finish up around 7 a.m. each morning. It’s not a schedule most people would like, but it’s the only lifestyle these men have known. “I spent my life at the bakery,” says Michael, whose grandfather emigrated from Denmark when he was 11 years old, starting a bakery in Racine, Wis., in 1949. “In his 20s, he decided to take a leap and got some backing from an accountant he made friends with,” Michael says. “My father started working at the bakery in high school and took over when he retired.” Michael and his brothers eventually took over for their father, and one brother still runs the family bakery in Wisconsin. Having often vacationed in Southwest Florida, Michael and his wife Mary had always dreamed of moving to the Sunshine State and opening a Danish Bakery here. The vision has now come to reality, with their son also relocating his family to start up Sweet Odin’s. They settled on the name, which gives a nod to the Norse god Odin, because they wanted something that would reflect their heritage. “Odin wasn’t necessarily known for being sweet, but the bakery is,” Kevin muses. Indeed, the Danish pastries are sweet and flavorful. The best-seller is Kringle, an ovalshaped, filled pastry with 32 layers of dough and butter. Sweet Odin’s makes at least a dozen varieties – from pecan to cream cheese and raspberry – each day, with about 30 fillings from which to choose.




“They’re all family recipes, developed and honed over 60 years,” Kevin says. The Danish bakery has been enthusiastically welcomed by Bonita and Estero residents, he adds. It seems a fresh bakery was missing from the local landscape before Sweet Odin’s opened in late March. “I like seeing the smiles on customers’ faces and knowing we’ve done a good job as they take a bite out of their doughnut or bakery item,” Michael says. “All of our products are fresh. They’re baked each morning.” Sweet Odin’s uses high-quality ingredients and no preservatives. The consistent quality and flavor is what keeps customers coming back, Kevin says. “My favorite thing about this business is when I show up, people say, ‘Where’s the Kringle?’ They get so excited,” he adds. “It makes all the long hours worthwhile to know people enjoy what you’re doing.”

Sweet Odin’s danish bakery 24830 Tamiami Trail S. (in the Comcast plaza) 239.676.8120 Owners: Michael and Kevin Olesen SEPTEMBER 2013


Crazy about macarons

on’t think of coconut when you hear “macaron.” While coconut is one of the 17 flavors Le Macaron offers, French macarons differ greatly from American macaroons. These tasty dessert bites are colorful, flavorful, and unique in texture. The round outer shell is made from ground almonds and soft meringue, giving a crunch to the initial bite, followed by a soft melt-in-your-mouth sugar rush. Each palm-sized pastry is filled with ganache, cream, or homemade fruit jam, bringing a burst of flavor to this small dessert. The festive colors are all natural, along with the rest of the quality ingredients. The 80-calorie macarons also are gluten-free. Macarons are prepared daily at the Le Macaron French bakery in Sarasota, says local franchise owner Jugnu Kotak. She and her husband Henry purchased the Miromar location in March. “We loved it so much and said, ‘This is something great,’” Henry recalls of their first tasting of macarons. The sweetness is best balanced out with one of Le Macaron’s coffee drinks. The dessert shop also offers Orangina, a French carbonated citrus beverage. Other sweets include gourmet chocolates, classic French pastries like croissants, and gelato imported from France. Flavors of the rich and creamy gelato include Coconut Chocolate, Creme Brulee and Bulgarian Yogurt and Apricot. Le Macaron offers eight gelato flavors daily. Macarons are sold as singles ($2.10 apiece) or in boxes of six to 36. Le Macaron also prepares festive macaron party towers for special events. Popular flavors include Madagascar Black Vanilla, Belgian Chocolate, Basil White Chocolate, Sicilian Pistachio, and Caramel Fleur


de Sel. The pink “Rose” macaron is as fragrant as it is tasty. Having relocated from New Jersey to run the French pastry shop, the Kotaks say they are enjoying meeting their new neighbors, as well as the many vacationers who stop by. “I love this business,” says Jugnu, clearly enjoying the sweet life.

Le Macaron Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Rd., Ste. 183 239.949.7001

Chocolate is hard work efore he was out of high school, Justin Schaffer was in business. And a tasty one, at that. The self-taught chocolatier developed a passion for confectionary cooking as a youngster. His mother often made chocolate treats to give as gifts or to bring to church functions. By the time he was seven, Justin was helping out alongside his sister, Lauren. The siblings became known as the “Konfectionary Kids,” eventually taking over chocolate operations from their mom. They began selling their tasty creations at trade shows and markets throughout the Southwest Florida community. While Lauren decided to pursue other endeavors, Justin knew he had found his lifelong passion in chocolate making. He took courses and studied under the tutelage of an out-of-state chef. His dad, a local chiropractor, helped him plot a business plan. “For the most part, everything’s been trial and error,” Schaffer says. “I had a passion for it, and that kept me going and learning new stuff.” He started with “made to order” custom chocolates featuring logos or other wording for weddings, corporate gifting and charitable events. His product line grew as demand increased, with his biggest sellers today including chocolate seashells and stunning high-heeled shoes. “Everybody has gone crazy over those,” Justin says, noting the stilettos come in an array of patterns – including leopard print, lace, and even styles by luxury French shoe designer Christian Louboutin. Schaffer opened his first retail location in February 2010 off Daniels Road, with a second location in the Downtown River District last December. Irresistible Confections now offers more than 60 flavors of artisan truffles and about 150 other chocolate items, including the popular bear claws, turtles, barks, and caramels. Schaffer even created some special “Dunk City” chocolates to commemorate Florida Gulf Coast University’s record-setting men’s basketball season. He not only loves to experiment in the kitchen, he also enjoys teaching others. Chocolate Camp will be taking place throughout the summer months for kids ages 7 to 15. Schaffer leads hands-on chocolate making, encouraging children to get creative as


they mold, fill, and decorate truffles and other assorted chocolates. He even brings out the airbrush to let the kids try their hand at creating gourmet, artisan truffles. “We don’t really restrict them too much,” Schaffer says. “It’s fun to see the personalities of the kids come out in the way they decorate.” He likely sees a bit of his former self in the aspiring chocolatiers who join him for camp. It’s the only summer camp where the kids come home with a pound and a half of chocolate every day! “They pretty much get to make chocolates and truffles like we have in our case,” Schaffer says. “It’s fun and hands-on. And who doesn’t like eating chocolate?” Irresistible Confections also runs chocolate parties for adults, whether it’s “Girls Night Out” or a “Truffles & Wine” party for clients. Schaffer gives back to the community through participation in more than 20 charitable events each year, benefitting organizations such as March of Dimes, PACE Center for Girls, and CCMI (Community Cooperative Ministries Inc.). He and wife, Shannon, have a 1-year-old daughter, Lilly Mae, who is sure to inspire some chocolate creations of her own. She recently tasted her first chocolate and loved it!

Irresistible Confections: Broadway Factory Chocolatier Justin Schaffer 1514 Broadway St., #101 Downtown Fort Myers 239.425.2606

dining style

Gorging in a Garage BY LAURA J. CUMMINGS GATES

ord’s Garage is downtown Fort Myers’ most-packed eatery on weekend nights, and a new location recently opened in Cape Coral. That will be followed by an Estero location this month – in a 6,000-square-foot space on the east side of the Miramar Outlets mall near Ben Hill Griffin Parkway, which formerly housed the Tipsy Tarpon. Like the Cape Coral location, the Estero Ford’s Garage will feature two bars with vintage Ford vehicles as centerpieces. When you step inside, the impression of entering a 1920s service station is tangible. From the old gas pumps to the Model A’s on lifts above the bar, this place is themed out Disney-style. Every detail has been thought of, right down to the metal hose clamps that act as napkin rings. Nods to the legendary Henry Ford are everywhere, from old photographs to automobile motors, vehicles, and thin tires from the early 20th century. Even the restrooms carry the theme, with sink basins made out of Firestone tires and a fuel nozzle for a faucet. The windows resemble service bay garage doors, and you never know when one of the




Model A’s will backfire with a puff of smoke and a sound of the horn. Servers dress the part as auto mechanics. The service station is really a cover for a prohibition-era tavern. Ford’s Garage features not one, but two bars, both with a handhammered copper top and a frost rail to keep drinks icy cold. It’s a fun atmosphere with high-quality food to match. Ford’s Garage adds class to the typical beer-and-burger joint. It features made-to-order Black Angus specialty burgers and carries more than 250 beers – 24 on draft. You can also order shakes with shots of vodka or rum. Of course the star is the burger. The Assembly Line Burger allows guests to build their own – choosing buns, cheese, toppings, greens, sauces and “burger bling,” like onion rings or fried eggs. The Burgers of Fame include specialty burgers named after local celebrities such as county commissioners, the sheriff and fire chief. For food-challenge aficionados, there’s the Big Red, a 10-pound monster loaded with fixings for $75. If one person finishes off the Big Red in under two hours, it’s free.






OUR FAVORITES 01. Piston Rings

04. Spark Plug Beertini

These jumbo-sized onion rings are served up in style, towering on an overturned metal funnel. Thick slices of onion are dusted in cornmeal, fried golden brown and served with a zippy chipotle ketchup and smoky ranch sauce. A must try!

Developed by Beverage Director Tom McGregor, this Ford’s Garage exclusive fuses beer with a martini. The cocktail features a blend of Guinness and espresso vodka, giving it a sweet, chocolatey flare. A candy swizzle stick adds to the sweet indulgence. Mini Spark Plugs are sold as specials for $2.

02. Cobb Salad Tidy rows of hard-boiled egg, crumbled bacon, grilled chicken, bleu cheese, tomato, and cucumber sit atop a bed of iceberg lettuce. Mix it all together for a fresh and flavorful entree salad.

05. Mom’s Rum Cake Made in-house daily, this moist yellow cake is glazed with Bacardi dark rum, then sprinkled with chopped walnuts for a supersweet ending. Try it with an Irish Coffee afterdinner drink.

03. Model A This mouthwatering black Angus burger is cooked to order and topped with aged Vermont cheddar, Applewood smoked bacon, pico de gallo, and a fried egg. The tall burger is pressed, leaving a toasty bun imprinted with the Ford’s Garage logo. All specialty burgers include lettuce, tomato, and red onion and are served with fresh-cut fries in a basket. Also try the juicy “Ford’s Signature,” topped with Vermont cheddar, smoked bacon, and sweet bourbon barbecue sauce.

Ford’s Garage Miromar Outlets 10801 Corkscrew Road

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Executive & Manor Homes from the $200s - $400s Up to 6 bedrooms & nearly 3,900 sq. ft. Luxury features and upgrades included at no extra charge! Living at The Preserve at Corkscrew is one way to preserve what many appreciate most, an elegant way of life, a zest for living, good friends and great times. If this sounds like you, then you belong right here.

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