205 Park Pl, Ste 1 Bellefonte , Pennsylvania 16823
This is the seventh article in a series spotlighting some of the local businesses in Bellefonte. Pop into one of these participating businesses- Alleycat Quiltworks, Bella Vino Wine Bar, Jake’s Cards & Games, Iron Star Trading Company, M&M Copy Service, Brother's Pizzeria, Pizza Mia, Elite Edge Athletics, Wireless Made Simple, Blonde Bistro, Bellefonte Art Museum or Bonfatto's- starting on Small Business Saturday, November 24th (and for a limited time after), to pick up your FREE BFT decal. It's our way of saying thanks for supporting all the independent shops and eateries that help keep Bellefonte so remarkably unique.
By Serge Bielanko
The Ghost of Christmas Past is making one last stand at Bonfatto's. But it's the Ghost of Christmas Future who is getting all the attention in there these days. See, as the final weeks roll on, owner David Letterman and his wife, Sherri, are saying goodbye to the restaurant they have run and loved for over 18 years. Come New Year's Day, this local favorite will shut its Zion Road doors for good.
Which, in a lot of ways, should have a whole congregation of regulars and fans weeping down into their beloved Bonanza subs. After all, you don't stay in the food business these days without amassing a heap of true believers in whatever it is you're dishing up. But this time, the story we've all lived through more than we care to recall: "Oh no! That great little Italian place down on the corner is closing forever!"...believe it or not, it has a very happy ending.
Because although Bonfatto's as you've known it will be no more, the Letterman's have an entirely new exciting venture waiting in the wings. In February they will celebrate the grand opening of Bonfatto's Italian Market and Corner Cafe. Located right smack downtown at 401 W. Hight Street, it is the chance of a lifetime for this family whose roots in the Bellefonte restaurant scene go back a century. And they have been working non-stop to prepare this new space while bringing the old Bonfatto's in for the smooth and gentle landing she deserves after all this time.
Which, needless to say, isn't easy. To hear David Letterman tell it, this final chapter turning into a whole new book has been bittersweet and incredibly exciting at the same time.
"We have made so many friends, provided employment for so many people, shared a lot of laughs, worked through hard times, and experienced a lot of successes over the 18 years at our location," Letterman reflects. "Now I have put my all into the current location. My wife and I had it custom build from the ground up. For 18 months we worked with our architect, Bob Hoffman on design and construction. It took over our lives as we made decisions on layout, colors, equipment. Many weekends were spent on doing what we could, running tv cable and cat5 wire, hand-staining every seat...the list goes on and on."
Now though the day they thought might never come, it's coming. Out with the old, in with the new, as they say.
"The time is going by very quickly," says Letterman. "And while I think about how it will be to lock the doors one final time, I really won’t know how it will be until that happens on our last day Sunday, December 30.
Of course not.
No one can ever know what will come over them in the final moments of something so powerful and beautiful as saying so long to an old dear friend. Yet, the future awaits. And as such,"the old" Bonfatto's- a favorite of so many for so long- is still very much open for business. Everyone there is eager to see the old guard at least one more time, too. If you've eaten there at all in the past, then that makes you a part of their history, doesn't it?
Stopping in this month then, whether you're starving after a long day of Christmas shopping or you need a place to feed your hungry crew of in-laws and cousins visiting from Timbuk 2, makes total sense. Let Bonfatto's cook you up some Eggplant Parm or some Chicken Piccata at the end of bustling day. One last time. (Bring your own booze though, okay? There's no liquor license, but no worries. There's absolutely no cork fee, either.)
The place is super decorated for the holidays, too. Regulars have come to love it. It's been part of the December charm there for what seems like forever at this point. Letterman is quick to give credit to the man behind it all: Bonfatto's own Christmas specialist, Bill Bernhard.
"Bill is our quintessential elf," Letterman exclaims. "He's s been with us from the beginning and decorates every season. We all love Bill and look forward to many more years of his decorating touch."
And if you want to spread the local love, don't forget that they have gift cards. It's like putting a piping hot plate of Cheese Tortellini in your loved one's Christmas stocking, you know? Only not as horribly messy.
"We have gift cards available which can be used at our current location as well as our new," Letterman says. "For every $25 spent on gift cards, you will receive a bonus of $10 in Bonfatto’s Bucks, which also can be used at either location."
While you're there make sure you grab a BFT sticker to show your love for Bellfonte wherever you may roam. It's Bellefonte.com's way of saying thank you for each and every one of you who supports all the fantastic local small businesses and eateries in this town.
Okay, what are you waiting for?
Head to Bonfatto's and help send this Centre County legend off with a toast and a smile.
I mean, c'mon. The Ghost of Christmas Present is hungry...and you know it.
205 Park Pl, Ste 1
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 16823
Hours 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Tel: (814) 353-3330
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Nestled on Spring Creek beside Tussey Moutain Outfitters, you'll find one of Bellefonte's best kept secrets.
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