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European brothers working to open Italian restaurant in Mason City (video)

MASON CITY – Pasta Bella.

Kelmendi brothers work on the exterior of the building at 1303 South Federal Avenue
Kelmendi brothers work on the exterior of the building at 1303 South Federal Avenue

That’s the name of a new Italian restaurant that is coming to Mason City. Two European brothers are toiling in a familiar south side storefront in preparation for an opening in the coming weeks.

The Kelmendi borthers found their way to Mason City from Texas through a mutual friend who insisted they come here and open a restaurant. The pair  – originally form Kosovo – came to America first in New York, then to Texas, now they are here, opening their first restaurant.

“We are cooks, so this is not what we are used to,” said Ricky Kelmenda Sunday afternoon. Ricky and his brother were outside on a gorgeous afternoon, spraying orange paint on the brick exterior at 1303 South Federal Avenue.  “We would rather be in the kitchen.”

Ricky said that they have received a warm welcome so far in Mason City.  Local realtor Tim Latham has given them advice, and hooked them up with contractors to complete needed electrical, plumbing and carpentry work.  They do not know many people in town yet, and are hoping their food will help make them lots of friends.

“We will serve veal, steaks, pasta of course, pizza, everything Italian,” Ricky said.  “It’s going to be the best food in town.”

In the meantime, a lot of work is needed inside the restaurant.  The floor is a puzzle they need to solve.  Ceiling tiles need replacing, some walls will be added, drop-down lighting over all the in-coming booths.  Already Monday, a Blazek Electric truck was in the parking lot, and men were coming and going.

The building was originally a Burger King restaurant, for years, before that closed.  It then became the Happy Wok restaurant, and then most recently the Lantern Japanese and Chinese restaurant, which closed last fall.

Exterior work
The Kelmedi’s work on the exterior of the building.  Paint, landscaping, and more are underway.
Interior work just getting underway
Interior work just getting underway.  Electricians, plumbers, carpenters are on the way this week.



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These people are Albanians, what’s with the European name tag? Are they embarrassed to be Albanians? There are no Italians in that kitchen.

Where is Vic’s Pizza when you need em?

Good luck guys!! I know u for long time and I know u guys going to do very good!!!! That’s what my brother giovani always wanted!!!! Hope I see u soon!!!!! Chuvi!

I think any restaurant serving really good food would be successful in Mason City, and that folks here would jump at the chance for something other than the chains.

My only doubt would be whether or not this town has the money to support that.

Most people wouldn’t know authentic Italian food from the microwave garbage you get from the Italian chains. If it’s real and good they should do great. Good luck and looking forward to trying it.

Just remember that places like Casey’s wouldn’t sell as much food if the other places were priced right, friendly, handy, provided faster/better service, etc.

I really thought Kum & Go would have come along and had more of a variety rather than just watching scorched wieners on a roller plate.

I feel for the guy at Whiskey Creek, a lot of competition has been thrown out his way. I always thought that location would have made a great Country Kitchen.

Welcome to town.

The major problem with restaurants in MC is that they are all terrible, not super-bad but still not good enough to go to more than once or twice.

Whiskey Creek – food tasted like it fell in a campfire.

Pancheros – No ‘El Gordo’ no business from me.

NW Steakhouse – I prefer my steaks grilled, not soaked in butter flavored grease.

Mexican Places – all the same food, some worse (like the one by Menards)

Chinese – Meh, although the new one has some excellent chicken items.

good Italian food is hard to find, if they have a good product, they will do just fine here. This is really good news!

Will there be Gluten Free on the menu?

I wish them luck because they are going to need it. Competition in that business in Mason City is tough. Most restaurants like that do not make it very long. I was in Whiskey Creek the other day (which is a fine restaurant with excellent service) and I think it is struggling somewhat. To many competitors.

Ditto LVS. I’ve been told by a supply company that there are close to 150 establishments in Mason City and Clear Lake that sell food. That’s counting motels that serve breakfast and places like Casey’s where you can buy a slice of pizza or dozens of businesses where you can drop in and get a sandwich and beverage.

@Otis-I am afraid they will be around for awhile until the newnest wears off and people go somewhere else. I hope they make it but they will have a tough time of it.

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