WALLINGFORD — John Massella wasn’t looking for a full-service restaurant when he set off in search of a new home to open Bagelicious’s third family-owned establishment.
But after meeting owner Joseph Gouveia and touring the former Wells Fargo bank on North Main Street, he discovered a new opportunity.
Massella saw that the drive-thru in the back of the old mansion-turned-bank wouldn’t meet his restaurant’s needs. However, he learned that the nearby Library Wine Bar & Bistro, also owned by Gouveia, was up for sale.
“My family fell in love with the building,” Massella said. “It’s nice.”
After seven years in the food industry, Massella purchased The Library Wine Bar & Bistro business. He intends to maintain the same operation, retain head chef Jonathan Harris and other employees, and honor existing gift cards and future reservations.
“Why would we change something that is so successful? said Masselle. “It’s very professional, very good.”
Massella, his wife Donna and their two children operate a Bagelicious in Cheshire and another in North Haven. They had hoped to open a third in Wallingford when the library opportunity presented itself.
Neither party would disclose a sale price, but Gouveia retains ownership of the building at 60 N. Main St. After renovating Wallingford’s former public library into a restaurant and wine bar in 2015, Gouveia and her family want to spend more time together and with their other business interests, such as Gouveia Vineyards on Whirlwind Hill Road and in the former Wells Fargo bank building. , which Gouveia bought for $1.2 million about six months ago.
“We welcome the Massella family of North Haven, as new owners of the library,” the Gouveia family posted on the library’s Facebook page. “Their family is very happy to be part of downtown Wallingford and to meet the community we talk about so much. We can proudly say that the Library is running the best way it has ever run and we are proud of the team that has supported us throughout our journey through the pandemic. We know there is a great future ahead of us and we wish the Massella family and The Library team only success, health and happiness.
Gouveia has big plans for the Wells Fargo bank building which is north of the library.
The property is the original site of Moses Y. Beach’s summer residence, which was built in 1850 and stood for more than a century. Inventor and newspaper publisher, the native of Wallingford founded the Associated Press, an international press service.
The mansion was converted in 1920 to St. George’s Inn, operated by Choate Rosemary Hall for parents and visitors.
In 1958, the New Haven Trust Co. demolished the structure and used the foundation to construct a new bank building, designed to mimic the original structure and completed in 1960.
The ornate cast iron door in front is original to the beach mansion.
Gouveia has four apartments on the upper floors and plans for commercial uses on the first floor. He is currently in talks with a Cheshire gift shop owner to occupy one of the spaces and possibly a breakfast and lunch venue in another space. The lower level which opens onto the rear car park is planned for another possible restaurant.
“Something simpler,” Gouveia said.
New commercial uses in historic buildings extend the town center beyond Simpson Court. The city’s economic development specialist, Tim Ryan, praised Gouveia for “bringing vision, energy and capital” to his successful businesses in the city.
“I think it’s just good community economic development,” Ryan said of the sale. “One conversation leads to another. John Massella is a solid guy in the restaurant business. He has an established track record and under Joe’s tutelage I think he will do very well.
Journalist Mary Ellen Godin can be reached at [email protected]