BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Capitol Grocery has been around for over 100 years, and now it is looking for a rebirth in the hands of LSU graduate Kristen Guarisco.

The grocery store at 701 Spanish Town Road first opened in 1914. It was closed earlier this year, and Guarisco decided to jump in and lease the downstairs.

She decided to rename the grocery “Belli.”

“Belly was the original name, and it came from a desire to fill people’s belly with good nutritious food,” Guarisco said. Exchanging the Y for an I represents her Italian heritage. Belli means “beautiful” in Italian.

Guarisco graduated from LSU in December 2017 and returned to Spanish Town a year ago. She brings work experience to Belli, including running her own meal prep business in Houma.

So what can people expect to see when the renovated grocery opens back up? Guarisco said the rollout will be done in two phases.

Phase 1 will include:

  • fresh produce and meats,
  • a breakfast sandwich,
  • coffee,
  • beignets,
  • a breakfast bowl,
  • healthy snacks,
  • smoothies and
  • lunch specials.

Guarisco said she plans to host lunch-and-learns for corporate offices to learn about meditation while having a healthy meal. She plans to host events such as a jazz brunch, movie night, cook-offs, poetry slams and karaoke.

The next phase will include a full menu, according to Guarisco. A lot of the foods that she plans to sell will come from recipes that have been passed down from her family.

Along with the healthy food, Guarisco said she plans to sell soul food, “because at the end of the day, even if you eat all the healthy foods and drink water, along with exercise, you still end up in the grave.”

She also would like to release a line of crockpot meals. In the meantime, Guarisco and her dog, Ollie are hard at work getting the store ready for the opening. According to the Belli Facebook page, the grocery store is forecasted to open in the middle of May.

When asked why she is opening Belli, Guarisco said, it is “a labor of love and way to give back to the community.”