In 2014, I walked into the Marathon gas station at 2612 Edison Ave., Fort Myers at about 4:30 a.m.
I was there to talk to a woman readers hailed as the "Queen of Gizzards." I thought I'd spend a few minutes with her, take a picture or two to go with the story, and then go about my day.
Five hours and dozens of batches of chicken later, I was still there, still enchanted by Bernice Loggins, the Queen herself, still watching her clean, season, dredge and fry her legs, thighs and gizzards, and then banter with her customers who she treated like her own children. I went back to do another story on Miss Bernice, as she was known, in 2016. Pre-pandemic, I'd stop in to say hi and eat her chicken once every couple of months — because she was hilarious, and because her chicken was so damn good.
There are people you meet in this job who stick with you, and, for me, Miss Bernice was one of them. She died Sunday at the age of 60.
The last time I saw Miss Bernice was in late September, when I stopped in for fries and two legs drizzled in hot sauce and ketchup, the way Miss Bernice likes it. She was busy at the time. We didn't talk much, and I didn't bother her for a picture. I never thought it would be my last time seeing her or eating her famous chicken.
Maybe that's the moral of this week's newsletter: If you love a local restaurant or cook or dish, go back to it as often as you can. You never know when it will be gone.
We're starting on a somber note this week, but there's plenty more food news to be consumed. Let's dig in.
But first: Do you subscribe? Subscribers can gobble up local news, reviews, and the food and features stories I've linked below to their heart's content. Get started here.
These quiet delights
My "Jean Le Boeuf" colleague, Andrew Atkins, wrote about Araya Sushi in Naples this week. From the same family behind Fuji Sushi, Araya opened seven years ago offering uber-fresh rolls and sashimi along with Thai fare. During the bustle of the holidays, Andrew said Araya offered some much-needed quiet and peace of mind, which is its own kind of delicious. Find his take in Naples Daily News and The News-Press.
November's best bites
It's that time again, when we on the food team compile the best things we ate from the month prior. From fried pickles to a crispy, mouthwatering take on hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, our November selections do not disappoint. Grab a napkin and get ready to salivate in The NP and NDN.
A sports bar with a family touch
First Round Draft sits on Cape Coral's Honolulu Canal. This waterfront sports bar defies so many expectations, which is exactly what its owners are trying to do. Run by two sisters and their stepmom, the Ramage women don't want this to be just another sports joint. They've made it their own. Gina Birch takes us Off the Eaten Path in NDN and The NP.
Our inspections roundup comes from Collier County this week, where three restaurants aced their health and safety inspections, while two were forced to close temporarily. See who's who and what's what, and search our statewide database of restaurant inspections in The NP and NDN.
(one of your friendly, local JLBs)
Jean Le Boeuf is the brand under which our restaurant critics have written for more than 40 years. This article came from staff writer Annabelle Tometich. Connect with this reporter: firstname.lastname@example.org; @atometich (Twitter); @abellewrites (Instagram)
This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Hello from JLB: If you love a restaurant, go back to it