Thursday, November 27, 2014

Downtown Italian restaurant closes

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 3/26/2014

Francine Leone is ready for some “me” time, her friend, Courtney McConico, said.

But to get that needed time — not only for herself, but for her two teenage boys — Leone had to close the doors of her restaurant, Bella Cucina, McConico said.

Francine Leone is ready for some “me” time, her friend, Courtney McConico, said.

But to get that needed time — not only for herself, but for her two teenage boys — Leone had to close the doors of her restaurant, Bella Cucina, McConico said.

“The physical location started out as Capelli Salon and Day Spa,” McConico said. “Francine and her husband, Bryan, who passed six years ago, labored day after day, working together to make the inside of [Bella Cucina] what it looks like today — so beautiful.”

Capelli’s shared a space with Cream & Sugar, a coffee shop located in the back of the spa that later turned into a mini cafe, she said. Eventually, the business became Bella Cucina, 129 S. Main St., Ottawa,.

“She has been running for six years and wants her ‘me’ and family time,” McConico said of Leone. “She is so excited to have some time to rest and enjoy what’s ahead.”

Before crafting Italian dishes for Bella Cucina, Leone was a hairstylist, McConico said, and she plans to go back to that career.

Bella Cucina announced the closure Friday on Facebook.

“Now, as new opportunities have become available, it is with a heavy heart that we announce the closure of Bella Cucina, effective today,” the Facebook post read.

Comments flooded the post and restaurant-goers offered their support and understanding, as well as shared fond memories from the restaurant.

“Speechless ... I sent so many to you from ‘Our House’ ... Thank you for our wonderful 50th anniversary dinner ... Now I’m sad,” Cathy Walker Skeet said.

There’s plenty Leone will miss, McConico said, as the people of Ottawa welcomed the new restaurant three years ago.

“The people of Ottawa welcomed it with open arms, and for that [Leone] will be forever grateful,” McConico said. “Many friendships and loyal customers over the years have developed, and she will miss them dearly.”

Another Bella Cucina’s isn’t expected to pop up anywhere else, McConico said, but Cream & Sugar will return soon with a new twist.

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