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Shannon Yates, Cape Coral chef dies from coronavirus

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Cape Coral chef Shannon Yates dies after battling coronavirus

Shannon Yates, one of Southwest Florida’s most influential chefs and restaurant owners, has died after battling COVID-19. 

A manager at Nevermind Awesome Bar & Eatery, Yates’ 9-year-old Cape Coral restaurant, confirmed his death Monday afternoon. Yates was 49 years old. 

“Oh my God, it’s hell,” said Cesar Otero, Yates’ friend and colleague of more than two decades. “I just discovered. It’s unbelievable.

Nevermind sources claim that customers gathered Monday to mourn the passing of a local chef who gave his heart and soul to the community he grew up in. 

Yates, a 1989 graduate of Cape Coral High School who played baseball at the former Edison Community College, got his start in hospitality working in resorts, including Sanibel Harbour in south Fort Myers and The Ritz-Carlton in Naples.

Chef Shannon Yates, left, and sous chef Heath Higginbotham plate entrees of grilled New Zealand elk loin with

Yates waited tables at the original Bistro 41 at Bell Tower Shops in south Fort Myers before setting out to launch a place of his own. In 1999, he opened Bacchus, a wine- and tapas bar at the same shop. A second location was opened in Fort Myers in August 2001.

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A group of investors approached Yates in 2004 to open Cru at Bell Tower. 

According to a 2016 News-Press article, Cru was The Restaurant of 2006 Fort Myers after two years of operation. “Prime reservation were difficult to get. The wines were large, the service was impeccable, and the ingredients were exotic and carefully sourced. The dining room was filled with lawyers, real estate investors, mortgage brokers, doctors and other professionals who were all in search of boom-time riches.

After parting ways with Cru, Yates went through a series of food ventures with varying levels of success, including Mad Takeout and Lush, both in south Fort Myers. Going back to his baseball roots, Yates catered events for the Boston Red Sox during spring training. Yates’ final home was in Cape Coral, however. 

Nevermind Awesome Bar & Eatery on Cape Coral Parkway in Cape Coral on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021.

Brittany Bowman, a bartender, was his partner in opening Nevermind, a dark and narrow lounge. He hung a portrait of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain by the entrance and focused on creating top-notch craft cocktails to be paired with a short menu of chef-designed bar fare. 

Nevermind was a huge success from the beginning. 

Yates stated in 2016 that “This is my vision”, and that it is the first place that has been all mine.” 

Otero was a Nevermind manager and has known Yates since his Bacchus days. He called Yates’ death “unimaginable.” Otero stated that Yates was admitted to hospital with coronavirus early last week and that his condition rapidly deteriorated. 

Sources close to Yates said he chose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Chef Reuben Sliva, front, and longtime friend/colleague Shannon Yates plate a course of sea bass during Sliva's farewell dinner at Animal House in 2017. Yates died Monday after battling COVID-19.

When asked what would happen to the restaurant, Otero, still reeling from the news, choked up and declined to say. A comment on Nevermind’s Facebook page Monday, written prior to news of Yates’ death, said the restaurant had a “rock star” team that was perfectly capable of running the place in Yates’ absence. This comment was deleted. 

Reuben Sliva was a Cru chef and a long-time friend to Yates. He said this in a text message that it is “a very dark moment.”

Find Nevermind at 927 Cape Coral Parkway E., Cape Coral or visit facebook.com/nevermindbarandgrill for more. 

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