Merced’s to open soon

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

MERCED’S ON BRANDY POND — Husband and wife team, Elaine and Frank Merced, will operate Merced’s on Brandy Pond in the building formerly known as Tiki Bar.

NAPLES — Frank Merced surveyed Brandy Pond and Long Lake from the top floor of the restaurant he is leasing.

With an air of calm, he said this is his favorite space in the building, which was formerly known as the Tiki Bar and Lounge, but will reopen in late May as Merced’s on Brandy Pond.

From the second-floor patio, he casually commented that the construction on the Causeway, which is taking place below him, will slow down at month’s end. The ditches will be covered and the road will be newly-paved before droves of tourists descend upon the Causeway.

“What is there not to like about this place? I mean, Wow!” he said. “The location is fantastic. The fact that you have views of both Long Lake and Brandy Pond, with boats docked out back. It’s just a perfect location for fine dining.”

Today, Merced is calm as the smooth surface of Brandy Pond.

However, he admits there will be stressful times as the building is revamped into his dream restaurant, and a 10-burner stove is installed to support the sautéed dishes, which will be made to order.

He knows summertime traffic will turn up the heat in the kitchen, and tables will fill with hungry patrons, and food orders will keep the staff hopping.

After all, Merced has more than three decades of culinary experience under his belt, and he has reasonable expectations about working under pressure. He graduated from Culinary Institute of America in 1977. Three years later, he traveled from New York to York, Maine, where he wowed patrons at the Stage Neck Inn.

A resident of Naples, he is currently employed as the executive chef at the Holiday Inn in Portland — a job he will continue to do until Merced’s grand opening. Meanwhile, his wife, Elaine Merced, is handling preparations for that opening date.

“I am going to feature nice, local specials. I’ll serve Maine produced and Maine-grown products, whenever I can like haddock and fresh seafood and a spectrum of cuisines that will please everyone — whether they want a three-course meal or a lighter fare,” he said. “I’ve always featured fresh local food. When I get creative with the menu, my attitude is no-holds barred.”

The restaurant will produce its own desserts, breads and salad dressings. In addition, Merced’s will offer a take-out area for boaters who can tie up to the dock, jump out, and grab something to eat. Orders can be taken and prepaid via phone, he said. There is enough summertime business for all Naples’ eating establishments to get a piece of the pie. “I really, truly believe there is room for everyone. Every business owner does their thing and does it well. So, we are going to find an influx of people who come to this area for entertainment and dining and shopping,” he said.

The end result of construction is that the rest of town will tie into the Causeway. The completion of the Causeway and the bridge is going to create a lot of exposure for Naples’ businesses.

“As far as the seasonal business, we know it’s very busy for everyone. But we know it’s important to cater to local clientele, too,” he said. “Merced’s has a well-experienced staff. Many employees will be familiar faces to the local crowds.” He added, “That’s going to make people who come in feel more at ease. Over time, people will come in and the servers will know what they want. It will be the kind of atmosphere where you are known, and you are important.”

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