38-year-old Maple Ridge restaurant has new owners

Owner Kelly Niavis is hoping the influx of development to downtown Maple Ridge will keep restaurant in the black.

One of Maple Ridge’s oldest restaurants has new owners, and they are hoping the influx of development to downtown Maple Ridge will keep them in the black.

Kelly Niavis and her husband George took over Bella Vita Restaurant on June 28. It had been owned and operated by Bill Voukelatos since 1974.

Niavis said one of the reasons they chose to buy Bella Vita was largely because of its location on Lougheed Highway in downtown Maple Ridge. With the downtown area undergoing a building boom, she is confident her restaurant will take advantage of that.

“When Target comes, we think that will help us a lot,” she said of the nearby expansion to Haney Place Mall. “We think the business will increase.”

Niavis and her husband moved to Maple Ridge 16 years ago after emigrating from Greece, and wanted to start a restaurant close to their home.

“We didn’t want to be anywhere but Maple Ridge,” said Niavia. “This is our home, we know we’re going to succeed here.”

The Niavises took over the restaurant on June 28, and have been working to incorporate more of a greek flair into the restaurant’s menu.

Like many family-run restaurants, the kitchen is George’s domain, while Kelly takes care of the books.

“My father owns a restaurant in Greece, so we will be using some of his recipes too,” she said.

Niavis wanted also to clarify that neither former Maple Ridge mayor Gordy Robson nor his family had anything to do with the purchase of the restaurant or its operation.

“I don’t even know who he is,” she said.