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Ellington’s opens to excited crowd, restaurant will feature stellar jazz, cuisine

By Staff | Aug 21, 2009

Sharon Wise and Jill Algrin floated and sparkled in their chic outfits and jewels like two stars in a vast night sky.

The co-owners of Ellington’s Jazz Club and Restaurant had ever reason to. They just opened their popular upscale dining and entertainment business in a hot new spot. The duo will be maintaining a supper club ambiance – just in a bigger place.

“It’s the new Ellington’s,” said Algrin. “Basically it’s a step up.”

Ellington’s, known for its classy elegance, eclectic menu and attracting renowned jazz performers, held a soft opening last Thursday at its new location, 1244 Periwinkle Way. The owners plan to have a grand opening soon.

Algrin said customers could plan on the same four-star dining experience and music.

“Our theme is ‘step out to a time when jazz was king,'” Algrin said. “Our goal is to bring the old supper club feel.”

Before dinner, patrons can mingle and socialize in the large dining area and meander to the piano on the stage. The piano is autographed by jazz performers and legends that have played at Ellington’s.

Dinners and appetizers are named after jazz greats. Look for items such as Basie’s N.Y. Strip or the Duke’s Duck Confrit.

The new restaurant will feature a star line up of jazz performers this season. Wise said she has a verbal confirmation from Patti Labelle to perform this season in a benefit for the Jazz Foundation of America. Wise and Algrin are supporters and involved with the foundation. The organization helps veteran jazz musicians remain in their homes and get financial support.

For more than a month, loyal patrons and employees waited patiently and eagerly for Ellington’s to reemerge after closing its doors at its Gulf Drive location.

The business opened in downtown Fort Myers in 2002 and relocated to Sanibel in 2003, the owners said.

At last Thursday’s soft opening, patrons strolled through the spacious dining and dance area chatting and bubbling over Ellington’s new spot that until last week housed the former Dolce Vita Restaurant.

For many patrons, being back in Ellington’s is something of a reunion – a remembrance of good times and good friends.

“We’re just thrilled to pieces for them and Sanibel,” said Karen Richards, a Sanibel resident. “They’re exactly where they need to be.”

Other patrons sipped libations and waited for the Danny Sinoff Quartet to begin playing its lively jazz.

The restaurant’s highly visible new location is expected to draw more people as well.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction for the future,” said Lynda Boyle, a South Fort Myers resident. “It will be a very positive landmark.”

The building with its elegant style has an outdoor dining area, roomy bar and grand dining and dancing area.

John Armenia, the building’s designer and landlord smiled as he saw the buzz around him during the soft opening.

“I think it’s going to be fantastic,” he said.

Members of the Danny Sinoff Quartet, which played last Thursday, are elated with the new location.

“It’s just a gorgeous room,” said Dan Miller, the band’s trumpet player. “I

think it’s going to be a beautiful room for jazz music.”

Speaking of jazz, Ellington’s is only one a few venues in Florida that features standard Count Basie-style jazz.

“It’s a rare commodity here,” said Miller, who played for 11 years with jazz star Harry Connick Jr.

Ellington’s will be open seven nights a week from 5 to 11 p.m. Dinner and live jazz will be available. From 3 to 6:30 p.m. the Almost Beach Bar will be serving libations.

For more information, call 472-0494 or visit ellingtonjazz.com.