For more than 20 years, Conrad and Sandy Villarreal have owned the building at 496 N. Sunset Strip in Kenedy which has housed a variety of businesses, including the Bella Sera Italian restaurant currently on site.
However, the building often sat unused in the morning, something that is about to change. From 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday, breakfast will be served at Bella, a longtime goal for Conrad.
“He has wanted to offer breakfast here for the longest time,” Sandy said. “Finally, he asked the waitresses if they knew anyone who loved to cook.”
One of the waitresses’ mothers fit the bill, and was the missing piece of the puzzle. The Villarreals hired Cassie Tucker as breakfast director for the restaurant, and recently invited several guests for a trial run.
“I worked at Mattie’s Bakery on the square in Goliad where I learned the breakfast end of it, and I’ve cooked for friends,” Tucker said.
The Villarreals came up with a breakfast menu to complement the afternoon and evening meals served, so local residents and visitors have a new option for early morning dining.
“Conrad wanted to be able to serve a big breakfast in a mom and pop shop where people can get together and enjoy a nice friendly, family atmosphere,” Sandy said.
“We want a place where people can come and get their bellies full,” Conrad said. “We have a lot of oilfield workers in the area and we want to make sure they get enough food. So the plan is to serve a big breakfast.”
Bella Sera was originally opened by a family from Sicily that had other restaurants in Texas as well. They would open the establishments and then sell them.
Since the Villarreals have owned the building, it has housed a gift shop, phone store and multiple restaurants. The Villarreals’ son and daughter-in-law are also in the restaurant business, as owners of the historic Broadway in Nordheim.
The Villarreals moved to Karnes County from Laredo in 1993 and have lived in Runge since 2008.
Conrad said he had been approached by someone else who was interested in buying the property and turning it into a breakfast restaurant.
“I didn’t want to sell because I want to take care of my employees, and I knew we could offer a nice breakfast that people can enjoy,” he said. “This is a family place where people can come and feel comfortable. We’re happy to give people with another option for early morning dining.”