The homemade, fresh-out-of-the-oven yeast rolls that welcomed you to Isabella's are no more. Owner, Donnie Catrabone made the difficult decision to close Isabella's after a three-year run.
"We had a small but very loyal customer base at Isabella's but could not expand it enough to remain profitable," Catrobone said. "After making reductions in staff, operational hours and menu changes we simply could not drive the numbers to be successful."
Catrabone is best known for building the local Video Warehouse chain. In its heyday the chain had 15 stores and was notably an industry leader. There are currently only two Video Warehouse's in operation.
"We knew that changes in technology and streaming video services, like Netflix, would greatly impact our business model," Catrobone said. " In building the Video Ware-house brand, we acquired some great real estate locations. In looking for a way to blend my passion for cooking, inherited from my Italian grandfather Robert Catrabone, with existing real estate the Isabella's concept was created."
Not ready to give up on his passion for food, Catrabone has evaluated the demographics within a close proximity of his location. His research led him to his newest concept which he has named "Buns."
You guessed it: everything will be served on a bun. The most expensive item on the menu, a double cheeseburger is $5.50. Many of the menu items will be just over $1. Catrabone said he wants to create a family-friendly concept that also rewards students with incentives for staying in school.
(For those of you, who grew up in the Boro, think "the Burger Barn.")
Buns will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and closed on Sunday. The hamburger (scaled back a bit) and the meatballs are the only two holdovers from Isabella's.
One of Catrabone's inspiration's for Buns comes from his college days. While playing baseball for Georgia Southwestern in Americus, he discovered Monroe's Hotdogs, which is a landmark in southwest Georgia.
Monroe's has many unique qualities, but they are most known for their steamed buns, homemade chili and cole slaw. Catrabone said Monroe's allowed him inside their operation and have mentored him. Of course, they did not share all their secrets, but from he did learn, he will replicate many of the things that made Monroe's successful, including the steamed buns.
With the Monroe's mentorship and being located close to Statesboro High, I think we can expect great things from Buns. Catrabone is planning a soft opening around March 19 and the grand opening is set for March 31. Buns is located beside the Video Warehouse mall area at the intersection of Northside Drive and East Main Street.
The following are quick hit items of note going on in Statesboro and Bulloch County that are of interest. In some cases, we will do followup stories.
• Councilman Will Britt has purchased the "Norris Hotel" downtown. He said he plans a complete renovation creating executive apartments using green and energy efficient products.
• South and Vine Public House began opening for lunch last week. They will be open from 11 to 2 Tuesday through Saturday for lunch in addition to their regular dinner hours.
• Edward Jones has relocated to 1211 Merchant Way, Suite 301
• Ag Career Fair will be at Ogeechee Technical College Tuesday, March 11, 2-6 p.m
• Manack Signature Properties welcomes Jason Lanier as a realtor after a banking career of 15 years. Jason is married to Lea Lanier and they have two sons.
Please email DeWayne at email@example.com or give him a call at (912) 489-9499.