NAPLES, Fla. – A popular restaurant in Naples, Florida, suffered severe damage as the result of Hurricane Ian, and the owners, like so many others across Southwest Florida, have been scrambling to pick up the pieces and begin the difficult process of rebuilding what was lost.
"It's tough," chef and co-owner of Nosh on Naples Bay Todd Johnson told FOX Weather's Nicole Valdes. "There's unexpected roadblocks that you would never imagine that is making it harder. You know, it's when you know the path from Point A to Point B it makes life easy. But this just has all kinds of left and right turns and, you know, going backward. It's been very difficult."
Nosh on Naples Bay hasn't even been open for a year, and it's been difficult to see how much destruction has been left behind after Hurricane Ian spun across the region.
"It was devastating," he said about what he saw when he returned to his restaurant for the first time since Hurricane Ian. "There was mud in here, crab, shrimp, sea cucumbers. And it was just the thought of, 'Where do you even start?' And, you know, you just got to start cleaning."
But once the cleanup process began, issues began to arise.
More than two feet of water from Hurricane Ian's storm surge crept into the restaurant and destroyed everything from the walls to furniture and equipment needed to keep the restaurant operational.
"The walls started bubbling," Johnson said. "So, then when they had to rip out the walls, it was back to, you know, then it looked even worse than it did after the hurricane. So it's tough."
Despite that, Johnson said it's been full speed ahead to clean up, replace items that were lost and work on reopening the restaurant.
They have an ambitious goal of reopening as soon as late next month before Thanksgiving. But a lot still needs to happen before Nosh on Naples Bay can reopen.
"Supplies are so tough. Help is so tough," Johnson said. "Working with insurance is very difficult. Landlords. There's just a lot of different steps to take."
Around this time last year, Johnson said, is when they signed the lease for the new restaurant.
"That was a clear path of what my wife and I had to do to get this place to become Nash," he said. "And now it's all ripped up, and it's a lot now. It's like, where do you start?"
Johnson said he and his wife would continue to do whatever it takes to get the beloved restaurant back up and running.