By Dana MacDonald
First opening their Regent Street location in 2016, MoCo offers Italian food made lovingly from scratch and their latest venture, Bella MoCo To Go, is no exception. Billed as Fredericton’s first walk-up takeout window, Head Chef and General Manager (respectively) Brian and Shawna Foster launched the restaurant’s new section as a response to COVID-19’s restrictions. Shawna Foster spoke to us about Bella MoCo To Go’s conception and adjusting to running a business in a pandemic.
An idea “100% COVID-driven”, the Bella To Go window has attracted a range of patrons. Foster says of their customers, “We’ve been seeing a good mix. A lot of office workers during the day, and in the evenings, we see people come by for date nights and family meals”. Putting their idea into action proved challenging: “We had to physically change the location of our office and allow for social distancing in the kitchen—a lot of minor renovations. We also ran into red tape trying to put seating on the sidewalk and we ended up having to make a full patio”. Despite its hurdles, the Bella window has revealed new options and benefits for MoCo: “We’re able to offer a menu we hadn’t done before, and without opening the dining room—which is higher maintenance—it helped to reduce costs” Foster tells me.
Life in a post-COVID world often requires creative solutions. Foster tells me, “We’re really lucky. We have Snooty Fox practically in our backyard and we make sure each respective business isn’t going without”. This, she says, has instilled a sense of comradery between downtown businesses.
Opening their takeout window has allowed MoCo to accommodate for health restrictions while still doing what they love. Not only does their system make for easier social distancing, but they are also able to offer their unique blend of comfort food and Italian cooking in a format suited to even the shortest of lunch breaks, thanks to their pre-ordering option. For Frederictonians with a hankering for local cold treats, MoCo also serves sorbet and gelato supplied by Queen Street Creamery.