‘Joy’s Bella Mia’ now really owned by Joy | AspenTimes.com

‘Joy’s Bella Mia’ now really owned by Joy

A longtime valley resident has purchased Bella Mia restaurant in El Jebel after being its manager for 13 years.Joy Maniloff, who lives in Basalt, purchased the restaurant along with her husband, Harold, on Tuesday. She says customers began referring to the Italian restaurant as “Joy’s Bella Mia” since she’s spent so much time there for more than a decade.Maniloff moved to Aspen in 1975 and is no stranger to the local restaurant business – she worked as the bar manager at Aspen’s Wienerstube restaurant for 10 years. In addition, the Maniloffs owned a local ice company, Aspen Cool, for 23 years before selling it last year.Bella Mia was opened 13 years ago by Emma resident Howard Gunther, the fifth restaurant he opened in the Roaring Fork Valley. Maniloff said he offered to sell her the business six years ago before changing his mind, so she’s been waiting patiently ever since.”He called out of the blue six weeks ago, and we closed on it yesterday,” Maniloff said. She doesn’t have plans to change much about the restaurant that’s been named “The Best Italian Restaurant Downvalley” three times by readers of The Aspen Times.The restaurant is known for its large menu, an old world, Italian atmosphere and a long list of homemade desserts. “We’re often told we have the best steak in the valley,” Maniloff said.She said former owner Gunther and his wife, Barbara, are interested in moving on with their lives after owning a string of restaurants in the valley. Gunther opened Charlemagne on Aspen’s Main Street, had the Grill on the Park at Wagner Park where Pacifica now stands, and Cilantro, which he later turned into the Klondike Steak House in El Jebel next to the Capitol Deli.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com

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