Bella Boutique has added Bar Bella, a cocktail lounge and event space.

Bella Boutique has expanded its business model with the addition of Bar Bella, a cocktail lounge and event space.

Elizabeth “Liz” Eckert purchased Bella Boutique, 2805 W. White Oaks Dr., shortly before the pandemic. She was no stranger to the business, having worked at Bella Boutique since she was 18 years old, first under the original owner, Regina Santarelli, and later for Natalie Allan.

The previous owner had already eliminated formal dresses from the store’s inventory before Eckert took over, and with proms and other events canceled due to COVID, that turned out to be a good business decision.

“My husband had the idea of turning the back part of the store where our prom dresses used to be into a bar,” Eckert told SBJ in April 2021 when she first announced plans for Bar Bella. The concept required a zoning change as well as a liquor license, and “construction definitely took longer than expected,” she said.

However, Eckert said that the venue, which opened Sept. 1, was “totally worth the wait.” She has live music acts booked for weekends through October. “Unfortunately, patio season is limited here,” Eckert noted, but said she plans to utilize the indoor area year-round and has already had numerous inquiries from people who want to have events such as baby showers, bridal showers or work happy hours.

“We have a seasonal cocktail menu, and we do have a retailer’s license, so some people are buying wine to take with them,” Eckert said. “It’s got a great costal vibe, and it’s a fun happy hour before you go down the road to have dinner.”

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