British Columbia

Bella Gelateria locations in Vancouver sold in bidding war

The company's three locations were listed for sale last month.

Marinaside location closed, Coal Harbour shop to be run by new owner

What used to be Bella Gelateria's marinaside location has been sold to a Vancouver restaurateur. The owner said it will be renovated into a new pizzeria by the end of the month. (David Horemans/CBC)

A world-class Vancouver gelato business rocked by a family feud has sold two of its locations, one of which will be rebranded — despite the sole director recently saying there was "no intention" of shutting down.

Bella Gelateria, a $3-million-a-year venture, had three locations: one in Coal Harbour, one in Yaletown and another in the Olympic Village.

Last week, the former two were sold in a bidding war in B.C. Supreme Court — Coal Harbour for $1.6 million and Yaletown for $428,000, according to one of the new owners.

The company's assets, including three storefronts, were listed for sale last month amid bankruptcy proceedings. The gelateria was marketed as 16 parts, including the brand name, locations and leases.

Bella Gelateria's gelato won international accolades, including gold medals in Italy for 'World's Best Gelato.' (CBC)

At the time, sole director Anna Coleridge said there was "no intention to shut down," adding that the listing was only to attract "new investment."

On Friday, she said selling was the only way to salvage some of the business.

"If Bella Gelateria did not bring on new investment ... it would likely have ceased to operate and become bankrupt," she wrote in an email.

The sale of the Coal Harbour location, which went to Feng Wang, included the operating assets, the Bella Gelateria brand and recipes — meaning the business could continue to run as usual under its new owner.

The Yaletown location was purchased by the owners of the Bellagio cafés in Vancouver. Emil Malak said the old gelateria is going to come "under their umbrella" and be renovated into a new retaurant called Baggio.

Emil Malak bought the former Bella Gelateria location in Yaletown on Sept. 18. He said he's going to build a new restauarant, Baggio, in its place but maintain the gelato aspect of the original business. (CBC)

He said it would be more of a pizzeria but with notes from the old gelateria.

"They just overspent ... but we're going to try to do our best to keep that same style," said Malak, who is a friend of the Bella's master gelatier, James Coleridge. "I'm not going to change that part."

The Coleridges both say they have been separated for years and each held half the shares of the company.

James said the business ran into trouble as he and Anna feuded. She took over as sole director last year and James claims he was cut out of the business after that.

Bella Gelateria has won more than two dozen awards since it was opened in 2009, both local and international. 

With files from Yvette Brend