With events like Flabingo, new Spanish Town market to ‘be everything for this neighborhood’

With events like Flabingo, new Spanish Town market to 'be everything for this neighborhood'
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Before Kristen Guarisco opened Belli, a small grocery store and restaurant in Spanish Town, she pressure-washed every inch of the outside of the building. 

She was literally and figuratively priming the space for a rebirth. 

Now, after the July 15 grand opening, she’s settling into the groove of running the business. 

“When it gets slower, I’m able to really have conversations with people,” Guarisco said. “It’s just magical. I love humans. Having those moments of connection has been the greatest.” 

She also noted that working with individuals who are helping to build the business from the ground up has been just as magical. 

Patricia Leonard, a counter clerk, said she likes working at Belli because of the positive work environment and Guarisco’s vision for the space. 

“I love seeing customers enjoying the great food and conversation,” Leonard said, “knowing they have found a slice of peace.” 

Belli Grocery located on Spanish Town Road in downtown Baton Rouge features grab and go items, lunch specials, coffee, sweets including beignets as well as some convenience items.

At Belli, customers are invited to lounge in the colorful seating area, play the piano, browse the convenience items and produce, or order food from the bar. The menu boasts lunch specials such as carnitas tacos, pot roast and shrimp étouffée, as well as coffee, burgers, a roast beef po-boy, chocolate zucchini bread, bread pudding, smoothies, homemade scones, biscuits and a Fruity Pebbles sugar cookie.

“Which is nuts, but we can’t keep it in the case,” Guarisco says of the Fruity Pebbles creation. “People love it.” 

Community members have been delighted about the space, Guarisco says, which took about three years to come together from ideation to opening. 


Belli Grocery located on Spanish Town Road in downtown Baton Rouge features grab and go items, lunch specials, coffee and sweets including beignets as well as some convenience items.

In 2020, Guarisco moved to Spanish Town and the previous business, Capitol Grocery, was closed. She always pictured herself working in the area, particularly running a food business, as she studied nutrition and dietetics at LSU. 

She put the idea on the back burner. When Hurricane Ida hit, she moved to Houma to help with recovery efforts there. When she returned to Baton Rouge, Capitol Grocery was open for a small stint, then closed again.

After contacting the landlord and expressing interest, Guarisco formed a business plan on the spot. 

“I live in the neighborhood and somebody had to do it,” she said. “I knew I could.” 


Ace DuBois plays a little music outside Belli Grocery Saturday July 22, 2023, outside the Spanish Town café.

Guarisco said that opening Belli is a combination of every job and accomplishment she’s had, including storm recovery in Houma, which helped her learn about construction. She opened a meal prep business after college, has served as a private chef in Florida and worked front- and back-of-house tasks in several cafes. 

However, all of this stems from her mom, who taught her how to cook. 

“My mom was a phenomenal chef,” she said. “When I got to college, I was too spoiled on good food to eat ramen, so I decided to learn how to cook cost-effectively.”


Belli Grocery owned by Kristen Guarisco located on Spanish Town Road in downtown Baton Rouge. The café has opened in the old Capitol Grocery store space in Spanish Town.

Guarisco hopes that Belli will serve as a space for fellowship within the community. Likewise, Leonard hopes that the business will serve as a reminder that all people can harmoniously come together to enjoy each other, the food, music and art.

On Tuesday nights, Belli hosts “Flabingo” — a riff on the flamingo theme of Spanish Town — from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. with $5 smash burgers and bingo. In the future, Guarisco wants to host card nights, networking events and a book club.

She also wants to stock the store with enough items so that it will serve as a neighborhood hub for go-to produce like chicken stock, bell peppers and more. She’ll also put out a notebook for customers to request items. 

“I want the space to be filled with people from the neighborhood and have them meet and greet, collaborate and get creative,” Guarisco said. “I hate to say that I want to be everything for everybody, but I want to be everything for this neighborhood.”


About Mary Weyand 11096 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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