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EDWARDSVILLE - Bella Milano is officially marking 20 years of serving the Metro East region and beyond at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19 with a rededication and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the restaurant. The event kicks off a series of parties and promotions going until November to celebrate Bella Milano’s two decades in business.

Tom Guarino & Craig Kalogerou with Bella Milano discussed the restaurant and its past 20 years on an episode of Our Daily Show! on Riverbender.com.

“I tell people all the time I’ve got the best job in the world - I host a party every night,” Guarino said. “We’re eating good food, we’re drinking some libations, and it’s just fun. It’s a fun atmosphere, and it’s family-friendly fun, too.”

Guarino said the rededication and ribbon-cutting ceremony next Tuesday will feature free beer, wine, and appetizers. Customers who stay for dinner after the event will receive 20% off their meals to celebrate the restaurant’s 20 years in business, and all online orders are also 20% off for the entire month of September. Bella Milano is also offering “Retro Dishes,” which bring former favorite dishes back to the menu for a limited time.

Guarino added that the Bella Milano E-Club is free to join and offers monthly specials, including some particularly good deals for the restaurant’s 20th anniversary. $20 chicken entrées, 20% off entire checks, and free desserts are just a few of the benefits available to E-Club members. Every Tuesday this October, members can also enjoy a free entree with the purchase of another entree at regular price. E-Club benefits continue year-round with free entrees up to $20 on members’ birthdays and anniversaries.

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Bella Milano will also host parties for its Buffalo Trace Single Barrel Bourbon where guests can try samples and buy bottles of the bourbon. The Edwardsville party is set for Oct. 26 and the O’Fallon party is on Nov. 2 - each party will have three time slots of 5-6 p.m., 6-7 p.m, and 7-8 p.m. Kalogerou said the Bella Milano website will soon have a link where tickets can be purchased through EventBrite. Each ticket comes with a bottle of Buffalo Trace, an Old Fashioned cocktail, Bella Milano appetizers, and more, but Kalogerou said they’re only selling 25 tickets per time slot, so those interested should act fast once the ticket link is up.

The festivities cap off with a 20th anniversary party on Friday, Nov. 10 from 5-10 p.m. in the Leclaire Room on the Lewis and Clark N.O. Nelson Campus, located at 600 Troy Road in Edwardsville. Live music from the Robert Parry Band, giveaways, and appetizers and bar service from Bella Catering will be on hand for the celebration of the restaurant’s 20 years in business.

Kalogerou said he, Guarino, and Guarino’s late father Sam, decided 20 years ago to open Bella Milano in Edwardsville, and noted the growth the area has seen since they opened there.

“We decided, ‘Hey, Edwardsville needs a nice Italian restaurant to have dinner at, and that’s what it all started from. When we first went out there, there was nobody in that area,” Kalogerou said. “Since that time … where we’re located at, on 157 there, that area’s exploded.”

Guarino said the community responded strongly when the restaurant opened and has continued to support them for the past 20 years, even through the pandemic.

“When we started this restaurant, we didn’t know if we were even going to make it a year,” he said. “The community has responded to us - even more during COVID, they really embraced the restaurants and … tipped with the servers even more. They knew everybody was struggling and it was really a great thing to see.”

The community will have plenty of opportunities to show their continued support for Bella Milano at the rededication and ribbon-cutting on Tuesday, Sept. 19, and for the next two months until the final anniversary party in November. For more information about Bella Milano, visit bellamilanos.com.

The full interview with Guarino and Kalogerou is available at the top of this story or on Riverbender.com/video.

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