Cella Bistro regulars say goodbye as eatery closes

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By Kristin Schultz

Gazette Reporter

SCHENECTADY — For more than a decade, Cella Bistro has served up simple, thoughtful, seasonal food. On Nov. 18, the Rosa Road eatery was to close for good.

Co-owner Julia Cella said the restaurant was being closed for a variety of reasons, chief among them the health of her husband, Michael. He is also Cella Bistro’s chef, and for the past few years, he has suffered from lymphedema, a shutting down of the lymphatic system that causes swelling. It is a condition most often found in breast cancer patients.

“There’s no reason he should have it,” Julia said. “But we’ve gotten a lot of really good care locally. We’re lucky to have Sunnyview [Rehabilitation Hospital] in our backyard.”

The Cellas announced the closure to employees earlier this month They told workers that, if they could secure another job before Cella Bistro’s final day, they should go — no hard feelings.

“All of them committed to stay,” Julia said.

On Nov. 14, Julia spent the hours before the restaurant opened returning more than 60 phone calls from diners hoping to get reservations for one last dinner before the restaurant switched off the ovens.

“We’re packed,” Julia said. “It’s cathartic to sit down with people, have a couple of laughs and say goodbye.”

Among the regulars she expected to see were a couple of gentlemen and golf buddies who frequent the bistro every week. They’ve been coming every Tuesday for six years.

Julia, Michael and Michael’s parents own the building at 2015 Rosa Road, and Julia expects they will eventually put it up for sale, but no firm plans have been made.

“We have had a really great time,” Julia said. “We love it. We’ve loved doing it. We’ve loved being here, and if there was a different way around it, we would have done it.”