No more Nonna Bella

By Bob McDonnell
The Surveyor

Photo by Amber McIvey-Traywick
Jim Dawe is the new owner of the building where Nonna Bella was located on Mountain Ave.

There has been quite a buzz around Berthoud since Nonna Bella Country Italian Restaurant closed its doors. Tom Agnew and Sue Laser had a successful six-and-a-half year run at the Berthoud eatery before deciding to retire. Agnew says many people came in for their final meal at the restaurant and shared a few tears and memories about their experiences over the years.
The owners of Nonna Bella had a couple of false starts trying to find someone to continue using the space at 335 Mountain Ave. as a restaurant.
After looking far and wide, they came to an agreement on the sale of the building with Berthoud resident Jim Dawe. Dawe lives within walking distance to downtown, near Fickel Park, in an old refurbished home.
Dawe may live in Berthoud, but his roots are far from the town, or Colorado. He grew up in Australia, where his primary job was as a geophysicist working for mining companies in the outback.
In 1999 he was offered a contract to play rugby in Aspen, Colo. Dawe says he was 25 years old and had never seen snow. “Aspen called, so I jumped on a plane,” he said. “I forgot to go home,” he joked.
Dawe’s older brother Rob went to Cornell University in New York and eventually moved to Denver, where he has five restaurants scattered throughout the Denver area. Jim has worked with his brother for years in the restaurant business, and the two will be partners in the Berthoud venture, as well.
Most of these five existing restaurants are Irish-themed. This led to a scuttlebutt around Berthoud that the Nonna Bella replacement would be the same. Not so according to Dawe. He is envisioning a family-oriented restaurant where he can take his three children or meet friends to watch a sporting event on television. His plan is for what he calls an American bistro concept. “Good burgers, good steaks, and a good kid’s menu,” is how Dawe sees the new venture. Plans also call for adding a smoker near the patio area for some barbeque items. The now-nameless restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner.
Dawe has what he estimates to be a three- to four-month restoration of the interior and exterior of the building ahead of him. “The building needs some TLC,” he said, tactfully.
His plans call for taking the wooden floors back to their original look and exposing some of the brick walls. Dawe likes what his neighboring business, City Star Brewing, did to give their storefront a retro look. He wants to attempt to find old pictures of his building to see the original colors and look.
The upstairs of the 335 Mountain Ave. property also belongs to Dawe. He owns a distillery called Hale and Bradford, located in Fort Collins. Long-term, the upper level that used to be the Odd Fellows hall, could serve as a tasting room for this distillery. This would occupy the front or street side of the building, with the back half being a meeting space for groups, families and businesses. But that part of the plan is for some time in the future.

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