After the pandemic thwarted a spring debut, Bella Café’ and Grille settled for a mid-November opening at 890 E. High St. as the newest addition to the Bella Notte Restaurant Group.
“We are very excited about Bella Cafe and Grille opening,” said Jillian Richards, director of training and marketing for the group. “It has been a long time coming. We were originally set to open in May, but once the virus hit we had to hit the pause button.”
Richards said the café is small and intimate, so with currently capped capacity levels, it will initially be open only for carryout and delivery.
“This concept is very different from anything we have done before,” she said. “It will have some Italian influence, but the biggest similarities between [Bella Café and Grille] and the rest of our restaurant group is everything is made from scratch, and we will source locally as much as we can.”
The location was formerly home to Le Matin and Zuni’s Café.
The chance for Kuni Toyoda to develop a new café in the High Street location arose during a phone call last year. Toyoda had previously developed both Fazoli’s and Smashing Tomato restaurant chains, as well as Bella Notte and the now-closed Bella Forno.
“[Kuni] has been friends with the former bakery owner, Abbas [Larian], for some time,” Richards said. “They have always spoken about whenever Abbas was ready to retire, Kuni would love to open in his spot.”
In other Lexington-area food and beverage happenings, Central Kentucky is getting its first cat café. Jennifer Hoskins is opening Central Purrk Cat Café at 401 Outlet Center Drive, Suite 260, in Georgetown in December.
The concept of cat cafés originated in Japan, and they’re spreading throughout the United States.
Hoskins said she researched domestic locations extensively in planning her own venue, where adoptable cats from Lexington and Scott County shelters will interact with patrons. Hoskins said there will be about 10 cats roaming freely in an onsite play/lounge area at any given time.
“We knew somebody would end up doing it in this area, and we thought it should be us,” she said. Due to health regulations, only pre-packaged food can be served onsite, and that will include cookies, scones, cupcakes, brownies and macarons. The café will also serve coffee, wine and beer.
The fee is $12 per hour, per person; or $6 for 30 minutes.
“It truly is relaxing [having] a cat sit on your lap,” Hoskins said.
Ouita Michel’s restaurant group has launched a new delivery app, in cooperation with the nonprofit Delivery Co-op.
“What makes this service different is that it’s owned by the local restaurants and fulltime delivery drivers who are extensions of our teams,” Michel said in the online announcement, touting the app as a “simple, elegant and innovative solution.”
Members pay a $25 monthly subscription fee, for which they receive on-demand delivery service from participating restaurants with no added fees or charges. Zim’s Café is the test site for Lexington, with more restaurants to follow, both from Michel’s restaurants and other independent eateries. Menus of participating restaurants will be included in the app. More information is available at www.delivery.coop.
Old Kentucky Chocolates has opened in Palomar Centre, its fourth location. The location also includes drive-through service for picking up a sweet treat on the go.
The Futile Bakery has opened on Waller Avenue, specializing in cinnamon rolls, customized cookies, cakes, and macarons, according to its Facebook page.
Distilled on Jefferson is open, serving contemporary Southern cuisine from its new location at 157 Jefferson St. Menu highlights include poutine, fried chicken, country hamwrapped scallops and organic Scottish salmon.
A new BurgerFi location was poised to launch in November at 1816 Alysheba Way.
Thrive Kombucha on North Limestone, owned by Elijah and Annie Webster, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to expand its taproom.
Moody Mike’s vegan food truck opened recently, with menu items including tater tot nachos, wings and po’ boys.
Texas Roadhouse has reopened at its new location at 3116 Richmond Road.
Grounded Coffee Transit mobile coffee truck, the second in the state, is on the move in Lexington thanks to local franchisee Scott Lamb.
The coffee trucks are a new segment of Florence, Kentucky-based Kona Ice company, Lamb said.
“Since 75 percent of Americans drink [coffee], we’d like to dip into a little piece of that market,” he said.
Just as Kona Ice is all about customizing frozen treats’ flavors, each of Grounded Coffee’s aviation-themed trucks is outfitted with high-end coffee-making equipment, as well as a station where customers can customize their drinks with flavored syrups, creamers and other additions.
The truck is touted as a way to bring coffee to parties, the workplace, churches and events, including farmers’ markets and sports fields.
“We [are] focused on quality of product and also speed of service,” Lamb said.