The smiling faces of Bobby and Alison Angelaccio have become staples over the last 17-plus years in the tight-knit community of Bristol Borough.
As the owners of Annabella’s, quaintly situated at 119 Radcliffe St., the duo has provided traditional, made-from-scratch Italian cuisine to countless guests. Whether patrons were stopping in before a show at Bristol Riverside Theatre, or attending Italian Night – a prix fixe six-course dinner offered every third Wednesday of the month – visitors always knew they’d leave happily bursting at the pants seams.
But, like many small businesses in 2020, Annabella’s felt the wrath of COVID-19.
“There was no more theater. There were no more festivals in Bristol, no more First Fridays. That in itself, from May until September, it was a loss of $20,000. You can’t sustain,” Bobby told The Times. “I got to the point where I said, ‘I’m gonna be able to last until about December, and then I’m just going to close the doors.’ ”
Luckily, what Bobby described as a “miracle” happened.
Through their friend and weekly Annabella’s-goer Steve Mooney Jr. (Farmers Insurance on Mill Street), the Angelaccios were introduced to George Pavlis, owner of the Fishers Food & Entertainment Complex, 1858 Street Road, Bensalem. It was agreed that Annabella’s would sell its Bristol location and become part of the growing complex, which currently encompasses a nightclub; gaming and golf room; spaces for weddings and showers; a bakery and more.
On Friday, Nov. 13, the new business partners will unveil Annabella’s at the Fishers Complex and a revamped menu, featuring the best of both families.
The recipes of Annabella’s were inspired by Bobby’s mother Annabelle, whose picture will be hung prominently in the dining area. Fishers dates to the early ‘50s, when Pavlis’ grandfather started the business at Broad and Ellsworth streets in South Philadelphia. It then moved to the Northeast near Castor and Cottman avenues and has been in Bensalem since 1975.
“This is two families getting together to be one,” said Pavlis. “When they approached me with this, I personally thought this would be a very good fit. Bobby and I hit it off well from the beginning. We’re hand in hand with this.”
Annabella’s staff was combined with Fishers, and all involved stressed that the quality of food will be maintained during the transition. All dinners are made-to-order, and desserts are homemade recipes passed down to Fishers from Hesh’s Bakery in Northeast Philadelphia.
“These are all family recipes that he brings to the table, and that we already have. This is not Friday’s. This is wholesome, good food and there’s a big difference,” said Pavlis.
In addition to serving more patrons in the larger space as COVID-19 restrictions continue, Bobby is thrilled to offer wine pairings and hand-picked wine flights – something he couldn’t do at the BYOB Bristol restaurant, where he didn’t have a liquor license. He’s also excited that guests will have activities to do before and/or after they eat, including hitting golf balls, having a drink at the bar, watching a football game, and viewing an antique mirror retrieved from the sunken Titanic.
“For me, it was a win-win situation. Annabella’s was on Radcliffe Street in Bristol for 17 and a half years, but I was always limited as to what I could do. And when you don’t have alcohol to sell, you’re limited as far as your income is concerned,” Bobby said. “Now, I can be a little bit more creative than I was at my restaurant. Not that I wasn’t creative, but there’s more I can do now. I’m looking forward to wine-tasting dinners. I’m looking forward to Italian Night getting bigger. Our Italian Night before was max, 40 to 45 people.”
It was a win-win for Pavlis, as well, who isn’t worried about these “trying times.”
“We’re worried about taking care of customers, making people happy. And we believe this combination is going to be very positive,” he said. “The ultimate thing is the customer.”
Reservations are strongly encouraged. Visit fishersbensalem.com/restaurant for more information and to view the menu.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com