It’s hard to imagine that there was any type of restaurant missing in Naples but the new HobNob Kitchen & Bar seems to have found a unique niche. Hobnob means to socialize or mingle and that’s just what owner Michael Hernandez is attempting to encourage. He calls his new restaurants a bohemian kind of place, and it reminds me of 1960s California – natural woods and mid-century modern furnishings. “It’s all a bit random,” said Hernandez to me on opening night last week. But also a very creative mix of iconic elements like the giant lighted EAT sign that dominates the front corner, to the massive photo mural of a modern tapestry that lines one entire long wall. Giant lampshades dominate the ceiling and lead your eye down the long, narrow restaurant. It’s a new modern
American style, referencing our past but in humorous and affectionate ways.
Hernandez has a long history in the Naples restaurant scene, most recently with Handsome Harry’s on Third St. South. He also started Aqua in Waterside (a beautiful seafood restaurant that was a sad loss to this high-end shopping mall) and coincidentally, opened Zoe’s in this very spot about ten years ago. This is the fourth restaurant in this location on 5th Avenue South. After Zoe’s was the short-lived Trilogy, and then the also short-lived Jolly Cricket. Each restaurant completely renovated the space spending a fortune on new furnishings and changing the atmosphere completely. I hope HobNob is able to break this trend.
The menu at HobNob is a mix of small plates and larger main courses. Everything is share-able and you can order a course at a time and keep eating and ordering if you’re hungry. Hernandez calls it “creative American” –classics like short-ribs and house made potato chips with blue cheese sauce, or ahi tuna nachos or even grouper and chips all have a slight twist that makes them interesting. The restaurant is equally divided into a classic sit-down restaurant space and a bar space with loads of high top tables and a long community table in the front window which is a free-for-all table for anyone who wants to sit down and hobnob.
HobNob Kitchen & Bar
720 Fifth Avenue South