Vancouver city dwellers are probably familiar with the sight of long lineups outside the corner of Fairmont Pacific Rim, especially during the summer season.
Bella Gelateria (1001 West Cordova Street) is the renowned gelato shop that occupies the high traffic location in downtown Vancouver, and it is one of the three locations that are currently being listed for sale through Pacific M&A and Business Brokers Ltd.
The gelato business operates another storefront and pizzeria in Yaletown (1089 Marinaside Crescent). It has also secured a lease for a third location in Olympic Village (D01001A False Creek Village), which is waiting for a new owner to complete renovations and make it operational.
James Coleridge is the face of the company—he is a gelato-maker and shareholder of Bella Gelateria. His estranged ex-partner, Anna Coleridge, became the sole director of the company at the end of last year. The gelato maestro claims he was kept in the dark about the sale of his company, and found out about the news this morning.
“I’ve received numerous phone calls from people wondering what is going on, and I’m completely caught off guard with the company being listed for sale,” James explained to the Straight in a phone interview. “I’m a shareholder, but I’m not the director. The director has applied to the B.C. Supreme Court, and has since removed me from being involved with social media and gelato development.”
The complications of the business arose in December 2016, when the director of Bella Gelateria filed for bankruptcy protection. In a bid to save the frozen-treats shop from shutting down, James had to make a decision.
“It was two days before the Christmas pay cheques, and [Anna] is the person in charge of finances. She told me we couldn’t pay [our employees] and had to let them go,” said James. “We were going to tell them we couldn’t get the pay cheques, and shut the place down. The alternative was that her family would invest money conditional upon me resigning as the director.”
“So I made a choice that the staff got paid, and I resigned as a director,” he added. “I have a lot of single moms and a lot of people who depended on paycheques, so it was more important to take care of them.”
The Straight reached out to Anna Coleridge to ask why the frozen-treats business is being put up for sale, despite the information included on the listing that the two Bella Gelateria locations generate $3.7 million in combined revenue.
“No comment at this point, all the information is on the business broker site,” Anna said to the Straight by phone.
Bids for the gelato business are being taken until August 28 at 5 p.m. The sale includes three storefronts, including assets such as the brand, trade-names and marks, furnishings, equipment, machinery, recipes, social media access, and more.
“I no longer have access to Twitter, Instagram, or the accounts of the company, and I’ve also been removed from the responsibilities of developing flavours and ingredients,” said James. ”I’m still president and CEO, but I’m slowly being removed.”