DERRY —Amy LaBelle recalls growing up as a little girl and creating playtime restaurants for her parents to enjoy.
Those early memories led to a lifetime dream of serving others.
Together with her husband Cesar Arboleda, LaBelle is opening the new LaBelle Winery in Derry, combining wine, food, a marketplace, golf, and event space in the couple's latest expansion effort.
LaBelle and Arboleda, also co-owners of businesses in Amherst and Portsmouth, purchased the former Brookstone property on Route 111 and are making it their newest vision for the region.
At an official ribbon-cutting June 2, regional chambers of commerce officials, town and state representatives, and other supporters welcomed the newest LaBelle business, citing its economic development role in the region, and honoring the business for taking a chance on Derry during many challenges over the past year.
"I'm impressed with what you've done here during challenging economic times," said Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce President Donna Morris, adding business is alive and well and the new LaBelle will be part of ongoing success.
Expansion was always in the mix.
That led to the town of Derry reaching out with an opportunity for LaBelle and Arboleda to acquire the Brookstone property.
"You are the epitome of the American dream," said Derry Town Council Chairman Jim Morgan. "Derry is privileged and honored."
LaBelle's plans for Brookstone included renovating the property to give it more of an artisan village feel, changing the event center's facade and interior with steel and wood tones, and giving the building a modern, yet classic look.
The "village" will be home to several indoor and outdoor gathering areas, including a nine-hole, par-three golf course, open to the public as well as offering memberships, along with a miniature golf course.
A three-acre vineyard with adjoining performance space and areas for weddings and other events also makes up the plan.
Add in a restaurant named Americus, that's a tribute to what the LaBelle philosophy is all about.
Arboleda told those attending the ribbon-cutting that a year ago, he and his wife looked at each other, wondering where their business would land as the pandemic raged on.
"This past year was a big test for all of us," he said, emphasizing his family's strong faith that kept them going, while trying to re-invent what the LaBelle name stood for.
That lead to innovative ways to serve the community, including a family meal program at LaBelle's flagship location in Amherst that supported those in need.
Arboleda also gave credit to his wife, who stood by him flanked by the couple's two sons and the LaBelle team.
"She pushes all of us every day to do more, and we are all better because of you," he said. "This is the fabric of hard work. This is the LaBelle team. We are here to stay."
For LaBelle, the new location is a tribute to the American dream, when things can be possible through hard work, commitment and faith in what you do.
And remembering her childhood makeshift eatery in her home's basement still makes her recall her original dream.
"I still feel the same joy I felt back then," LaBelle said. "I have a passion for the hospitality industry. "And in America, dreams do come true."