ST. JOSEPH - A popular Italian restaurant in downtown St. Joseph is expanding. Bello Cucina, in the Mill Stream Shops development, is taking over the space previously occupied by the 'On A Lark' retail store.

Owner Jason Mueller says they are expanding their bar area.

One of those being a tasting room like you often find in different wineries that you visit.  A big part of our business is wine, and we hope to open this space and educate the public a little more.  As well as make the space a little more comfortable.  When there are events here in St. Joseph it does get a little crowded.

Mueller says they're adding about 1,300 square feet of space. Currently the restaurant has over 3,200 square feet.

The remodeling process is already underway and Mueller says he hopes to have the new space open by New Year's Eve.

Bello Cucina opened in St. Joseph in the spring of 2012.

During Monday night's St. Joseph City Council meeting, the council had to vote to remove a percentage stipulation on the Mill stream Shops for the project to move forward. It required the development be 25 percent restaurant, 25 percent office, and 50 retail. Now, while it still has to be a mixed use facility, there's no set percentage requirement.