Brian Roland’s social media pages have filled with support for his recovery.
NAPLES — Celebrated Southwest Florida chef and entrepreneur Brian Roland has been critically injured in what a close friend has called a “strange and freakish accident.”
Roland, who co-owns Bonita Springs catering company Crave Culinaire with his wife, Nicole, was injured after being trapped beneath a freight elevator platform at a Ferrari dealership on U.S. 41 in Naples Dec. 4. Roland was at a Saturday night event at the dealership when the accident happened, around 9:30 p.m., according to a Collier County Sheriff’s Office incident report. Roland was “extracted from underneath the elevator and transported to Lee Memorial Hospital,” the report states.
An employee who answered the phone at Crave Culinaire Tuesday says Roland was in the intensive care unit at Lee Memorial Hospital, adding “we’re not able to provide any details at this time.” A Lee Health spokesperson told the Business Observer Roland was in critical condition.
Roland’s Facebook page and other social media sites filled with posts of dozens of prayers and well wishes when news of the accident was reported — many tagged with #BStrong and #thisishowweroland. The latter hashtag, ‘this is how we Roland,’ fits with Roland’s witty sense of humor and is something he’s used for several years, says Beth Oliver, a friend of the family who is director of sales and marketing for Fort Myers-based Offshore Sailing School. Oliver says she’s known Roland for years and worked with him on a charity event earlier this year for CHEF, the Culinary Hospitality and Education Foundation of Southwest Florida.
“Brian is a wonderful, generous, creative and innovative entrepreneur,” Oliver says, adding he’s mentored many up-and-comers in the Southwest Florida culinary scene. “He’s compassionate, he’s flawless and he is brilliant on his feet.”
Oliver also says both Brian and Nicole Roland were open publicly about their desire to start a family together; their first baby, Remi, was born Nov. 9.
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of American and former executive chef of M Waterfront Grille in Naples, Roland his wife founded Crave Culinaire in 2013. The company grew quickly, putting on some of the most attended events in Naples and the surrounding area.
In a July story in the Business Observer, the Rolands talked about how they shifted some of the company’s focus amid the pandemic, including a Crave 2 Go unit, to offer gourmet meals at home. They also teamed up with other local businesses, including Norman Love Confections and Narrative Coffee Roasters, to stock Crave Pantry, where shoppers could purchase items like eggs, veggies, breads and ready-to-cook proteins as well as essentials like toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Through July the company had some 100 employees — and the Rolands were optimistic about the rest of year and 2022. “It’s very promising,” Brian Roland said. “We can look at what we’ve gone through and feel safe in knowing there’s a bright future ahead.”