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Spaghetti with the stars
November 8, 2017

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The restaurant at 1821 Estero Blvd.has switched hands, but it's keeping the Mediterranean theme.

Mangia Mangia, Fort Myers Beach's newest Italian eatery, opened Oct. 30.

Husband and wife team Frederic "Frenchy" and Jeri Lynn Perrin are taking a break to their Hollywood business to slow life down a little on the beach with their 9-year-old son, Austin.

"We decided to kick back on the beach and open a mom-and-pop," Jeri Lynn said.

The couple own another business that's been the main focus since the 90s: Frenchy's Catering, which caters for film productions. They and their staff coordinate with movie producers and follow them to filming locations to serve meals for their cast and crew.

"We're coming from Hollywood," Jeri Lynn said.

Their star-struck wall is the first thing customers see as they walk in; a wall of the large restaurant is framed with photos - many autographed - of the stars they've met throughout their career, including Adrian Brody, Cuban Gooding, Jr., and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

While the family's movie catering business is based in New Orleans, they traveled around the country and world with the film producers. However, a few years ago they lived in Estero, and that's when they first found Fort Myers Beach.

"It's still beautiful," Austin said.

They decided that they'd save up some money to open a restaurant on the Gulf coast. Now, they're living in Port Charlotte and were looking for open restaurants in that area, but nothing seemed to fit.

Then, they found the restaurant for rent on Fort Myers Beach.

"We discovered this gem, and it was exactly what we wanted," Jeri Lynn said.

Mangia Mangia, meaning Eat Eat, was born.

The extensive menu has something for everyone, from focaccia and flatbreads to pastas and gnocchi and seafood and steak. It's got traditional Italian dishes, like pasta e fagioli and frutti del mare, as well as favorites like spaghetti and meatballs. Its flatbreads are different from others you might get: rather than thin crispy crust, the dough is rolled out thin but soft. Options include prosciutto and arugula, quattro formaggi with white sauce and margherita. The menu also has vegan and gluten free options.

Frenchy, aptly nicknamed as he is French, studied culinary arts in his homeland. He's the executive chef, and Jeri Lynn said as a French-trained chef he excels at sauces. When the family toured the beach, they noticed there wasn't an all-Italian restaurant on the island.

"So, we decided to do Italian to accommodate the beach," Jeri Lynn said.

Mangia Mangia is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.and Sunday from 11 a.m.to 9 p.m., with live entertainment on Sunday.

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