Pandemic almost forced popular Burnley cafe to close but owners promise to be back bigger and better than ever in May

The owners of a popular and award winning Burnley eaterie have revealed that being forced to closedown for months on end during the pandemic almost pushed them into retirement.
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Lynn Scibetta, who owns and runs Bellissimo with her chef husband John, said: "Yes, there were times when we did think about giving up but I looked at my husband John and thought, 'he is a fantastic chef, we have won awards so there is no way we are giving up.' "

The couple are now preparing to re-open the doors of the shop on May 17th for the first time since November.

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Lynn said: "We can't wait to get back up and running and welcome old and new customers back through the doors again."

Lynn and John Scibetta, who own and run Bellissimo in Burnley, have vowed they will be back with a new look and new menu in May.Lynn and John Scibetta, who own and run Bellissimo in Burnley, have vowed they will be back with a new look and new menu in May.
Lynn and John Scibetta, who own and run Bellissimo in Burnley, have vowed they will be back with a new look and new menu in May.

Describing how it felt like 'being thrown into a swimming pool at the deep end when you can't swim' when the Italian restaurant had to close at the start of the first lockdown, Lynn added: "It really was sink or swim.

"In the months that folllowed it was like being on a rollercoaster, all the different emotions and feelings you experience."

Established in Parker Lane nine years ago the family business, which also employs Lynn and John's youngest son Robert, closed in March at the start of the first lockdown before it was allowed to re-open for a short period in July before the second lockdown. Then came the third, and probably toughest lockdown, in November.

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Lynn said: "The shock of having no income but still having to pay bills at the shop and at home was a blow.

"You worry about so much, like where do we go from here? How will we manage? What if we catch the virus?

"We also worried about the shop and our customers too."

Lynn added that, like many independent, family run concerns they faced real fears for the future, particularly when many high street giants, such as Debenhams and Dorothy Perkins, became victims of the pandemic.

She said: "We thought that all the big names would be ok and they would get through the pandemic but when so many didn't we realised that no-one was safe from the effects of this pandemic."

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The holder of the best cafe title for 2015 and 2017 in the prestigious English Italian food awards, John had the honour of being asked to cook for Italy’s answer to Gordon Ramsey, respected Neopolitan pizza chef Gianfranco Lervolino.

Bellissimo has also been supported by celebrity Italian chef Aldo Zilli, the founder of the English Italian awards who asked the Scibettas personally to take part in the awards.

The couple have praised Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham for the help and advice he gave them regarding different grants they could access.

Lynn said: "We couldn't have done it without him.

"The help both Antony and his office staff gave was a lifeline for us, invaluable. He is working hard for Burnley and people need to realise that."

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Lynn also thanked Burnley Council for the help and support it has given to businesses in the town as being 'helpful and positive.'

The Scibettas decided to use the grant money to totally revamp the shop which they are keeping under wraps until the grand re-opening.

Lynn said: "We have used every penny very wisely.

"It's the start of a new era for us with a new look restaurant and new menu, we can't wait to welcome customers back old and new."