Bella Vista Beer Distributors
Bella Vista Beer and Soda founders Olympia and Mario Fetfatzes got their start in the beverage business running pushcarts around Philadelphia. Most pushcart vendors were ordering soda directly from the beverage wholesalers but when Mario went to a South Philly distributor at Sixth and Moore one day to pick up cases of soda, he fell in love with the idea of having a store of his own. The couple traded in their sidewalk for a storefront and sold off five pushcarts in 1984.
Fast-forward 24 years and now their sons Chris and Jordan are the face of the family business. The brothers have gained citywide recognition for brands like Sprecher, Ballast Point, Lakefront, Voodoo and Ace Cider. They've consulted for Stephen Starr's Jones. Their tap handles have even made it to the towers at Brasserie Perrier.
But Mario and Olympia still clock in every day. Mario is relentless. When a reporter interviews Jordan, Mario cuts it short. He's timed him. "Four minutes," he laughs. "Then back to work."
It's a busy time. Bella Vista Beer and Soda is moving to the east side of 11th Street and will open its doors to both draft and bottle lovers on Oct. 5. Their new home will look more like a supermarket, with more than 125 different beers for customers to grab from the doors themselves. They've formed a partnership with George Hummel of Home Sweet Homebrew to sell homebrew kits and will also be selling breweriana and glassware.
Beer will be organized by country of origin with shelf talkers offering tasting notes, proper glassware and, of course, pricing. The closest you get to something this ambitious is Shangy's in Easton, Pa.
While touring the new store, 26-year-old Chris refers to the pallets of cases as a museum--albeit one filled with a brewer's art. In America's best beer-drinking city, he's sure to get a lot of traffic.
The Fetfatzes have built up quite a business over the years. Olympia makes sure I know they've worked hard every day and they've never compromised their values. She tells me she could talk for hours but Mario won't allow that. She leaves me with, "If you're good it pays, and if you're not good, you pay."
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