Bella’s is gone; The Deli remains

Bella’s is gone; The Deli remains
Barbara Lawlor

On Jan 18, 2007, just short of five years ago, Bella’s opened its Italian doors. Located in a prime location on First Street in Nederland, the sandwich shop featured quality Boar’s Head products and Udi’s baguettes for the bread.
Hot meatball and Italian sandwiches ran out the door. Bella’s was a favorite place for people on the go to grab a sandwich for their hike or bike ride, sit on the picnic table next to the co-op and watch a stream of tourists flow down First Street, window shopping, people watching looking for a place to eat lunch.
Location is everything. For Ross Alper and Steve Sabella, business was going well, but Sabella left after about six months and Ross has been on his own.
“I didn’t even think of shutting down then,” Alper said. “I just kept going and we did become successful. There were, however, a few winters when we barely made it.”
Over the years, Bella’s was known as a place to come for great conversations, a central social spot. Alper said that people having a bad day would come to Bella’s and the bad day would go away. The Cuban sandwiches were the hot item for the past year, with marinated pork breast, ham and Swiss cheese, it is hot, melty and spicy with crunchy, soft bread wrapped around it.
Keeping afloat has been rough. Alper said he almost shut down a few years ago in January, when business was defunct. “It is different when you have a child,” Alper said. “For the first year Annabelle stayed with me, a working dad. We almost found a buyer, but the sale fell through. Then we told ourselves we just had to hang in there until the Frozen Dead Guy Days, which is always profitable.”
Last year, on Saturday, FDGD sales doubled Bella’s best day. Bills were paid and Bella’s was able to move forward. As of the beginning of the year, Jan. 1, Alper and the Deli at 8236 First Street were on their own, and he is now making long-range plans. The business, Alper said, needed a new life. With the new name comes new life. Having made it to five years at the end of this month, Alper said he plans to propel himself to doing well.
Although the deli has done well as a takeout, eat elsewhere place, an eating area has been added in the front and in the back, perfect for enjoying bowls of homemade soup.
“Bella’s used to be an Italian Deli,” Alper said. “Not it is a deli that has been born from Nederland and its music. It defines what Nederland is all about.”
After popular demand, The Deli will sell half sandwiches as well as a children’s menu. The shop will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Alper said he hopes to bring in a breakfast crowd.
Much of the Deli’s business is contained in the made-on-the-spot sandwiches. Another option the Deli offers is buying the meat or cheese by the pound to take home. Udi’s baguette bread is also for sale, so you can construct your top quality sandwiches at home.
Bella’s may be history but the Deli at 8236 is carrying on the good mood food tradition.