The Bella Vita restaurant in Maple Ridge’s downtown is closed. (Neil Corbett/The News)

The Bella Vita restaurant in Maple Ridge’s downtown is closed. (Neil Corbett/The News)

‘Iconic’ downtown Maple Ridge restaurant closing

Bella Vita couldn’t weather COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed another business casualty in iconic Maple Ridge restaurant The Bella Vita.

The restaurant has been serving meals from its location on the Lougheed Highway in the heart of Maple Ridge for almost 50 years.

Owner George Niavis said he did not want to talk about the closure. He and his wife Kelly took over the operation in 2012. The restaurant had previously been owned and operated by Bill Voukelatos since 1974.

READ ALSO: 38-year-old Maple Ridge restaurant has new owners

The couple had immigrated from Greece, where her father had a restaurant, and have lived in Maple Ridge for 25 years.

“It’s really tough. The Bella Vita is a long-time restaurant in the downtown, and I’m sad to see them go,” said Ineke Boekhorst of the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Association.

She said her Rotary Club met there every Thursday for lunch for years, and she got to know the business well. She said it was the kind of place where you wanted to sit down for an evening and enjoy a three-course meal.

READ ALSO: Restaurant owner riled by road work in Ridge

But unlike some restaurants in the downtown, they did not have patio tables to help them weather the storm of COVID-19. Public health orders completely closed restaurants earlier in the year, and now they are allowed outdoor patio seating and take-out delivery only.

“It’s an iconic place, and a landmark in Maple Ridge,” Boekhorst said.

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