EL DORADO, Ark. (07/23/20) — La Bella Deli will be closing its business in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Its 34 year run in the dining and catering business will come to an end on July 31. Customers can’t imagine life without their favorite corner store spot.
“I’m sad about it because La Bella has been a part of this community for years,” Liz Ramey said.
“I’m sad about it too,” Ramey’s co-worker, Samantha Whaley said. “We just work a couple of block away at Guardian’s Insurance Group so we would come here for lunch a lot.”
Those closest to the business are also disheartened. Improvement made in February to drive in customers will now have been in vain.
“We wanted to go for a more modern place for people to come sit and hang out,”
Watts took over the family owned business in late October of last year. He wanted to do some interior remodeling further closing the store for two weeks in January to make some major improvements.
Business was great after the remodel but when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, Watts and his employees were completely blindsided.
The hit stunted their boom in business before it could fully bloom. They closed their dining services for a few months which meant fewer customers even though they were offering curb-side assistance, pick up and delivery options.
Now, it has left them with more questions than answers.
“We didn’t know it was going to affect us as much as it has,” Marshall McMahan said. “There are so many things going through my head like about what’s going to happen afterwards.”
Watts and McMahan have close ties to La Bella Deli. It was their first job as teenagers and it still holds a special place in their hearts as adults.
Both are sad to see it go but are excited for the next venture. Watts already has a plan in mind, taking the dine-in experience to the streets with his “Watts Cookin’ food truck.
Some of customer’s favorite meals will still be available through their new way of serving food, including their bayou menu, mac and cheese and the array of sandwich options.
Since the pandemic, money has been tight for Watt and his family but he has no regrets on his quest to become a business owner.
Even though he has to down-size with the food truck, he’s happy to continue doing what he loves and hopes he can garner enough support to continue providing customer’s favorite dishes.
“As long as they have been supporting us the way that they have been I feel like we can make everything a success,” Watts said.
Watts and some of the deli’s loyal customers are asking for the community to pitch in if they can towards this next goal.
“I hope the food truck does come up so we can at least get some of their good sandwiches,” Ramey said.
“I hope everyone comes out and helps them get it going,” Whaley agreed.
Watts has created a go-fund me page in hopes to raise $20,000. If you would like to donate, you can visit their corner store spot located at 101 East Main Street or you can give online.