Their Reputation Precedes Them: Bruce and Laurie Stanton’s Venture, Stella

On the porch at Stella, a Kitchen and Bar.
On the porch at Stella, a Kitchen and Bar.

According to owner Bruce Stanton, “Stella is a lot of things. Stella means star. We want to be a shining star here in Lakewood. Laurie {Mrs. Stanton} and I love New Orleans and Charleston, S.C. We love the food, the music, the culture. We are drawn to restaurants with girl’s names.” The brand image for Stella is an innocent young woman’s face which makes one wonder “what’s her story?”

New Orleans is where Tennessee Williams wrote “A Streetcar Named Desire”. Stella Kowalski is the steady, emotional center of the play. We know her story, what’s this Stella’s story?

The full name of the venture is Stella, a kitchen and bar, located at 60 Chautauqua Ave., Lakewood, N.Y. When you enter Stella, you immediately feel like you are going to have a good experience. The Stanton’s years in the hospitality business and love of fine dining are evident in the clean, uncluttered yet whimsical décor. The main dining room is open, airy, and beautifully decorated. The large, attached porch is the busiest dining area. It gives one the feeling of dining on a New Orleans second floor porch complete with flowers and wrought iron.

Stella has a full bar offering southern inspired specialty drinks that compliment the casual fine dining menu. The menu is based on locally available fresh ingredients. Bruce said, “We make fresh ricotta every day. This morning Laurie was baking chocolate pies. Everything is made in house. We are at a point now where we can offer nightly specials based on what is available locally this week.”
When asked about the opening, he added, “It has been a rollercoaster, we were supposed to open in April but could not, then we opened 3 weeks ago with lots of trepidation. So far, it has been the best it can be. We are very surprised and blessed at the support the community has shown us.” Bruce and Laurie Stanton’s network of friends, colleagues and acquaintances has spread Stella’s opening across the region. “We have had guests from Chautauqua that knew us from there, we’ve had guests from Buffalo who heard about us from social media and decided to visit beautiful Chautauqua County. We are consistently serving 60 meals a night. We are ironing out the start up bumps right now and eventually we will be open longer dinner hours, adding breakfast and lunch time meeting options and limited catering.”

Bruce and Laurie Stanton, Stella Owner Operators
Bruce and Laurie Stanton, Stella Owner Operators

Decades of Tourism Promotion

Stanton said, “Laurie and I understand the importance of tourism in the region. We want to promote the Southern Tier’s activities, local businesses and new opportunities. New York State has so much to offer, no matter where you are. We have been in the tourism business for many years. I started in the restaurant business when I was 16 years old.” Bruce oversaw food service and hospitality at the Chautauqua Institution’s Athenaeum Hotel along with the hotel’s general manager’s responsibilities for 25 years, and most recently was the General Manager at Moonbrook Country Club. Laurie has been a fixture at Chautauqua Institution managing group tours and events. Currently she works part-time for the National Comedy Center as director of group sales.

Stella’s is open Wednesday through Saturday for dinners, and Sunday for brunch. The restaurant does not offer takeout yet. “We want to get our table service perfect and then we will add takeout,” Bruce said.

The Menu

The menu offers a variety of seafood, fish, chicken, and beef. From homemade Crespelle Lasagna Bolognaise to New Bedford Sea Scallops over spaghetti squash with tangerine beurre blanc to a Bijou Filet Mignon. Soups and burgers are also on the menu. The appetizers and salads are fresh and will delight your sweet and savory taste buds. The prices are very reasonable. According to Bruce, the menu will be seasonal and change as locally available produce is available.

Give the new Stella, a kitchen and bar, a try, I think you will be back frequently.

Reservations are requested and can be made on the Open Table app and by phoning (716) 526-1124. Information can be found on the Stella Facebook page @stellaakitchenandbarllc and the restaurant’s website,