Bella’s keeps comfort cuisine

After previous Bella’s Bistro owners Jim Ready and Carla Easton closed shop in Punta Gorda on May 1, Helene Armistad and son Alex made the place theirs — starting with the simpler name Bella’s and a streamlined menu.

They provide the same comfort-food menu as Bella’s Bistro but make it more manageable. For instance, there are build-your-own rather than predesigned omelets.

For lunch, they serve basic salads, soups, wraps, sandwiches, burgers and bag lunches, and plan lunchtime bicycle deliveries to downtown Punta Gorda. Any leftover bag lunches will go to the Charlotte County Homeless Coalition.

Alex’s favorite thing to cook is breakfast, so Bella’s serves breakfast all day, with pastries from Nino’s Bakery of Punta Gorda.

Bella’s ($), 941-467-5029, 117 W. Marion Avenue (behind Pomegranate & Fig, across from Herald Court Centre parking), Punta Gorda, is open Sunday to Thursday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Beer, wine and liquor available.

On vacay

All Abbe’s Donuts shops (Port Charlotte, North Port and Englewood) have blessedly reopened after a week’s vacation.

El Dorado Maya (2233 SE Highway 70, Arcadia) will be closed until July 30, when they’ll reopen daily from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Ephesus Mediterranean Grill (8300 Wiltshire Drive, Port Charlotte) closed for two weeks but reopened July 9 with their regular hours, Tuesday to Saturday noon to 9 p.m.

Mama’s Italian Restaurant (2091 S. McCall Road, Englewood) closed for vacation starting July 1. They’ll reopen July 30, with hours Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Nicola’s Italian Kitchen (4343 S. Access Road, Englewood) closed July 13 and will reopen Aug. 14, with hours Tuesday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Seven on Venice (317 W. Venice Avenue, Venice) reported that they’d be closed for the summer. No reopening date was announced.

Taste of Europe Bistro (2414 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte) will be closed through July 22. They’ll reopen July 23, with hours Tuesday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Purple Potato (Port Charlotte-based food truck) will be on vacation until Aug. 1. They’ll be back on the road with a new wrap on Aug. 2 at the Charlotte County Administration building, 18500 Murdock Circle, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Don’t lowball the snoballs

Englewood’s beloved queen of sno and longtime owner of The Sno Queen snoball trailer, Louisiana-born Mary Auen, recently said it best — reproduced here with minimal edits.

“The Sno Queen is for sale. This is the entire business. Not just the two trailers. It’s ‘lock, stock, and barrel.’ its supplies, coolers, concentrates, signs and flags, upright commercial freezer, wine cooler, five-plus years sterling reputation, training, The Sno Queen logo, website and Facebook page.

“I’ll teach you how I make the syrup—no, you can’t find my way online. I’ll teach you about the different styles—the New Orleans Snoball, the Hawaiian and the Baltimore. I’ll teach you about toppings that are not only delicious but a simple thing that adds to your bottom line. I wouldn’t leave you until I was certain you ‘got it.’

“I will not part it out, split it up or nearly give it away. I’ll ask you to sign a nondisclosure agreement when it’s time for you to know my financials.

“My asking price is $43K ‘as is,’ meaning I don’t clean/wash bottles or replace big trailer floor. I am willing to sign a noncompete agreement.

“The $310 permit is transferable because you’ll want to keep ‘The Sno Queen’ name.

“While most snoball stands where I’m from are seasonal seven to eight months, it’s not that way here in Florida. In fact, the best time for real New Orleans snoballs is summer, when other businesses slow down because it’s not ‘season.’

“But season for real New Orleans snoballs is all year long. Ideally, you would open seven days a week from spring through sometime in October.

“This was my baby for nearly six years. I put an incredible amount of effort into this, making it successful for the time I was open. I’m not going to give it away, so please don’t try to lowball my asking price.

“It’s been a good, fun run, Englewood and beyond. I’ve made some wonderful friends, and some lifelong memories.”

Average price ranges are $ = inexpensive (under $10), $$ = moderate ($11-$30), and $$$ = pricey (over $30), including tip and beverage.

Send restaurant and bar news and recommendations to columnist Sue Wade at


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