The number of businesses in downtown LaBelle increased on October 14, 2016 when Belle’s Ice Cream Bar opened. It was a sweet treat for LaBelle. The Marra family owns Belle’s Ice Cream Bar. Lisa and Rugger Marra founded it in October 2016.
The family wanted to open a restaurant for years. Since there were already several bars and pubs in LaBelle they wanted to do something different.
“We wanted to do something abnormal and unique,” said Rugger Marra, co-owner and founder of Belle’s Ice Cream Bar. “We had the idea of opening a classic sweet shop.”
“My mom is originally from Vermont and grew up around Ben and Jerrys,” said Rugger, “We wanted to give that our own twist.”
One of the things the family would love to do is make their own ice cream that is from local ingredients using their milk from their own cows and sugar from Clewiston.
“Making our own ice cream is about two years out,” said Rugger.
“My sister, Brooke and I were always involved with the restaurant businesses and always working for someone else,” said Marra, “My mom is a nurse practitioner. I went to school for Mechanical Engineering, but felt isolated and wanted more socialization. Brooke went to school for art. Most of the paintings you see at the shop are painted by Brooke Marra.”
“Brooke and I run the business,” said Rugger.
Belle’s Ice Cream bar aims to be warm and welcoming, have an excellent product, and be somewhere people want to be. They want to be somewhere people enjoy spending time at, not just a place where people come for Ice Cream.
“Being located on Fort Thompson Avenue and not being right off 29 and being on a backroad has been our biggest challenge,” said Rugger.
“Running a business is a learning curve,” said Marra, “The community has been warm and welcoming. I feel like we are building together.”
The best experiences have been First Friday events hosted by LRDC and Swamp Cabbage.
“During Swamp Cabbage we were open for 14 hours and expected the car show to be out front. Someone was standing at the car show handing out flyers and directing people to the store,” said Rugger, “it was funny because we weren’t prepared. We closed off parts of the restaurant and directed customer flow. They were a lot of new people coming in and our regulars came”
“LaBelle has potential to be an up and coming area,” said Marra, “and businesses should just bite the bullet and go for it. Being in a town with small shops and not have to deal with chains. Variety is a plus.”
The thing that has helped them the most in the first year is the LaBelle Downtown Revitalization Corporation (LDRC) and the Chamber of Commerce. The LDRC has helped a lot because of its goal to help downtown LaBelle.
“We want to add more variety to the menu,” said Marra, “Food and smoothies. We would like to add more seating and room for customers and have a sitting bar.”
The bar has pumpkin flavors for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Potentially an apple pie flavor in November. New sundaes, a brownie sundae. Maple Walnut and Rum Raisin are just a few of the flavors
Belle’s will be participating in Halloween Downtown hosted by the LDRC on Saturday, October 28 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
“We plan to give out coupons and candy,” said Rugger, “Our happy hour shots are now permanently on the menu. Pints are buy 2 get 1 ½ off.”
“As a kid, I always loved Mint Chocolate Chip and it is still my go to, said Rugger, “I am one of the creative ones so I mix stuff. I really like Espresso Chip with Mint Chocolate Chip milkshakes.”
The most popular flavors in Belle’s Ice Cream Bar are Salted Carmel and Butter Pecan.
“I’m in Belle’s Ice Cream Bar all the time,” said Kristin Pack, “the thing I like the most about it is it is owned locally. It is close by my house so I ride here in a golf cart. My favorite flavors are Chocolate Brownie, Mint Chocolate Chip and Birthday Cake. The Banana split is amazing and so is the Perka app.”
The Perka app grants points to customers when they check in on Facebook at Belle’s Ice Cream Bar and acts as a 10 percent off discount.
Belle’s Ice Cream Bar is located at 31 Fort Thompson Ave, LaBelle, Florida 33935. Their phone number is (239) 471-0462. You can find them on Facebook at Belle’s Ice Cream Bar-LaBelle. Belle’s Ice Cream Bar updates their Facebook Page with daily specials. They are open 12 -9:30 p.m. Monday thru Saturday and 12- 8 p.m. on Sunday.