With new cases still coming up, COVID-19’s influence has yet to fade from our society. Unfortunately, because of the danger associated with public spaces, businesses, especially restaurants, have suffered heavy losses. That was also the case for Enoteca Emilia, an Italian restaurant in downtown Loveland. After some brainstorming, owner Margaret Ranalli decided to open a fried chicken restaurant in its place, called LoveBird.
LoveBird is a new restaurant that opened earlier this month, specializing in Southern comfort food staples, such as fried chicken, biscuits, meatloaf, pies, and more. Lovebird is located at 110 South Second Street in Downtown Loveland in the Loveland Station Building (in the same building as Graeter’s) and is open from 4:00 to 10:00 on Wednesday through Saturday and 4:00 to 9:00 on Sunday. But why did the owner pivot from Italian food to fried chicken?
After finding it difficult to staff at the caliber she and everyone else would have wanted, Margaret Ranalli made the difficult decision to close down Enoteca Emilia’s in March earlier this year. Upon closing, she announced that the restaurant would experience a rebirth of sorts, with an entirely new concept and menu, which would become LoveBird. Ranalli has explained that she chose fried chicken because it’s a good outdoor food that is easily transportable, which fits with Loveland’s expansive array of outdoor, recreational areas. “‘With Loveland being such an outdoor- and adventure-based area, I wanted something that was transportable, whether it be by DoorDash or on the back of your bike,’ Ranalli said” (The Enquirer). On top of this, there was no other fried chicken restaurant in downtown Loveland at the time, so Ranalli took to filling the gap.
There’s also a bit of personal significance to this choice, as well. Emilia’s was originally open in O’Bryonville before it had to close in 2016 due to supposed real estate drama. After this closing, Ranalli suddenly found herself unemployed, and so started on a national job search. She was eventually hired by the Midtown Republic restaurant group of Charleston, South Carolina. While there, Ranalli fell in love with Charleston’s food scene. “‘I was really inspired by the level of what they were doing with Southern food,’ she says, pointing to the James Beard Award-winning Rodney Scott’s BBQ as an example of excellence in traditional cooking” (Cincinnati Magazine). The restaurateur has said that she wanted to recreate a reflection of her time in Charleston, which is why she opened the new restaurant with a Southern comfort food theme. After about three years of living in Charleston, Ranalli decided to reopen Enoteca Emilia’s in late October of 2019. Unfortunately, this new location was only open for a few months before COVID-19 hit the world hard in 2020. After managing to keep Emilia’s running for a few years, Ranalli had to make the tough decision to close the restaurant in early March of 2022, revealing the new concept for the restaurant later that month.
Despite the many challenges that the restaurateur has faced over the past couple of years, she remains incredibly grateful to the people of Loveland for their support. Ranalli states on the Enoteca Emilia website, “It is our sincere privilege to serve this community and exist as part of fabric of the Village of Loveland.”