Vella Farms, demolished by road wideners in northwest Modesto, has sprouted anew a few hundred feet away.
Owner Janice Vella reopened her bakery, delicatessen and gift shop at Vintage Gardens, an event center at Dale Road and Bangs Avenue.
She plans to revive fruit sales in the spring, when the 2010 crops start to ripen in the orchards that she still owns near the old Kiernan Avenue store.
For Vella, the venture is a way to carry on the legacy of her husband, Ron Vella, who farmed in the area for more than 60 years before his death in February.
"It's been incredible — all these people who were our customers came back," she said Friday. "I didn't realize what an impact Vella Farms had made."
The new business, known as Vella's at Vintage Gardens, opened quietly in November and has had mainly word-of-mouth advertising, Vella said.
Vintage Gardens holds weddings and other events in a converted farmhouse and extensive outdoor space. Owner Bob Campana suggested to Vella that she revive her business there.
"I basically approached her and said, 'It was such a great thing, why don't we re-create that here?' " he said.
Vella Farms' roots go back to 1955, when Ron Vella bought the Kiernan Road land. He later built a small fruit stand, where he sold boysenberries, peaches and other produce he grew.
He and Janice were both widowed before they married in 1996. A year later, they completed a new building and stocked it with kitchenware, produce, nuts, cheeses, sauces and other items.
Vella Farms closed in 2007 to make way for the widening of Kiernan, disappointing people who had come there for food, gifts, Halloween hay rides and other attractions.
The new place has the same menu and types of gifts as did the old one. The pies are baked by Vella Farms veterans Randy Kerr and Dianna Martin, and Vintage Gardens executive chef Rigo De Alba makes the deli food.
Vella plans to bring back barbecues and live music on Friday evenings in summer, as well as the Halloween pumpkin patch. She expects to have a license within a month for beer and wine, which were not served at the former site.
Louis and Leona Early of Modesto, longtime patrons of Vella Farms, dropped in for clam chowder at the new place Friday.
"It's very nice," said Louis Early, who recalled buying berries from Ron Vella dec-ades ago. "We're so happy that she has reopened, because we've really missed it."
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2385.