Bella Milano restaurant enjoys boost from St. Elizabeth’s traffic
The local owners of The Egg & I restaurant in O’Fallon are selling it to First Watch, the chain’s parent company, which will close it for a week in early September then reopen it as a First Watch restaurant location.
Both The Egg & I and First Watch restaurants serve only breakfast, brunch and lunch and close mid-afternoon.
“I’m retiring for the third time,” said Gary Mueller, 65, of O’Fallon, who owns The Egg & I franchise with his wife, Cathy. “Maybe this time it will stick.”
Mueller expects to close on the sale by the end of July. The restaurant will remain open the rest of the summer, he said, with some renovations taking place in the afternoons and evenings. Then it will close the first week of September so the kitchen can be gutted and replaced.
“I’m excited about First Watch taking over The Egg & I and completely remodeling it, inside and out,” said the mall’s owner, Terry Johnson.
A First Watch spokesman did not return multiple calls for comment.
According to the company’s website, its restaurants offer breakfast favorites such as omelets, Belgian waffles, French toast and eggs Benedict, as well as specialty items such as lemon ricotta pancakes, avocado toast, pesto chicken quinoa bowls and biscuits with turkey gravy. It also serves salads and sandwiches.
“We begin each morning at the crack of dawn, slicing fresh fruits and vegetables, baking muffins and whipping up our French toast batter from scratch,” the website states.
“Everything is made to order and freshness is never compromised. We don’t use heat lamps or deep fryers. We use only the finest ingredients possible for the freshest taste around. When you arrive, we welcome you with a pot — not just a cup — of our Project Sunrise coffee, along with complimentary newspapers and WiFi Internet access.”
Gary Mueller formerly served in the U.S. Air Force for 23 years, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. Then he worked 12 years as a military contractor before opening The Egg & I in 2012. Cathy’s background was in customer service.
Today, Gary Mueller is involved in a prison ministry and Habitat for Humanity, and he serves on a couple of boards.
“There are a lot of things we want to do, and we want to do them while we still can,” he said. “We’re going to do some traveling.”
The Muellers’ last day at The Egg & I is July 28.
“It’s been a great ride,” Gary Mueller said. “We’ve met a lot of people and made a lot of friends. We appreciate our customers and their dedication.”
First Watch was founded in 1983 in California and moved its headquarters to Florida four years later. The company bought the Arizona-based chain The Good Egg in 2014 and the Colorado-based chain The Egg and I in 2015 and converted many of those restaurants into First Watch locations.
The company now has more than 375 restaurants in 32 states, including more than 330 First Watch locations, 40 The Egg & I locations and one Sun & Fork restaurant, according to the website.
Bakery to open in downtown Belleville
A baking enthusiast who has been filling custom orders out of her home is opening a bakery on East Main Street in Belleville.
Rebecca Waterkotte makes cakes, cookies, pies, cheesecakes, breads, cinnamon rolls, macaroons and cupcakes. She operates under the name Sugar Fix Bakery.
“Pretty much anything with sugar in it, I can make it,” she said.
Waterkotte, 43, is the mother of four children, ages 14 to 18. She and her husband, Matthew, also own The Strike Zone indoor sports training facility in Belleville.
The Waterkottes are moving the bakery into 106 E. Main St., former location of Green Forest Vapor Shop, next door to Crafty Sugar Co.
“I’ve been baking forever, mainly for personal reasons and for my kids’ school, ” Rebecca Waterkotte said. “I come from a big family, and we all love to bake. I’ve always liked to try new things.”
The couple formerly owned a Harley-Davidson dealership in Mount Vernon. They moved to Belleville in 2015.
Rebecca Waterkotte created a Facebook page for Sugar Fix Bakery about two years ago and began filling custom orders. The business grew by word of mouth.
“It’s just got to the point where I need to free up some space in my home,” she said. “It’s kind of taken over.”
The Waterkottes now are adapting the storefront on East Main Street to meet their needs. They hope to open in mid- to late August, definitely before Belleville Oktoberfest on Sept. 20-21.
The bakery will have seating and serve coffee with its sweets.
“I’ll still do special orders, but I’ll also have stuff on hand for people to come in and buy,” Rebecca Waterkotte said.
Andria’s to reopen as Moussalli’s Prime
The former Andria’s Countryside Restaurant on the northeast edge of Edwardsville will become a new restaurant called “Moussalli’s Prime,” the Edwardsville Intelligencer has reported.
The building on five acres is co-owned by J.F. Electric Vice President Jonathan Fowler, his wife, Claire, the Moussalli twins Antoine and Christian and their younger brother, André. They’re doing a complete renovation and plan to open this fall.
“Moussalli’s Prime will be one of two area restaurants owned by the group,” the Intelligencer reported. “The other will be Moussalli’s on Main, on the site of the former Rusty’s restaurant. The building’s footprint at the former Andria’s site will not change; the layout will. It will be more open-concept after construction crews remove several interior walls.”
The owners will cultivate a farm-to-table” atmosphere; incorporate more international and California-inspired cuisine, as well as vegetarian and seafood options; and continue Andria’s tradition of suggesting wine pairings and serving steaks that are certified Angus beef.
Andria’s closed in May at 7415 Illinois 143 after 30 years in Edwardsville. There is an Andria’s Restaurant in O’Fallon, but the two weren’t affiliated.
At Moussalli’s Prime, customers will pass a window looking into the kitchen when they enter the restaurant, the Intelligencer reported. Other features will include an expanded bar, new chairs and equipment throughout, updated restrooms and revived outdoor gardens with herbs, mushrooms and a bee colony.
All three Moussalli brothers have extensive restaurant experience, all have been trained in culinary arts and all have worked at Andria’s at one time or another.