John Coscarelli always knew he wanted to go into the restaurant business. His parents, Norma and Mike, both moved to the U.S. in search for a better life. With them they brought recipes of pasta, pizza and other Italian specials, to bring a little bit of home with them. John believed the recipes were to good not to share with the community. So they decided to open a restaurant.
In 1996, Relli’s Italian restaurant opened. Located in the heart of downtown DeWitt, Relli’s brings a taste of Italy to mid-Michigan, while also providing an exciting atmosphere for sports fans.
Norma or “Mama Relli” as she likes to go by, still comes in everyday and prepares the pasta sauce from scratch, giving DeWitt a true authentic and unique Italian restaurant.
Johns Italian background and interest in Michigan State athletics influenced his decision to make it both a sports bar and a place to go for real Italian food.
“Being the only sports bar in town, I try to bring a Lansing and East Lansing flair,” Owner John Coscarelli said. “From the patio to the garage doors and all the televisions, I want to give it that big city feel. All while at the same time giving the community a place to go with family and friends.”
Super Bowl Sunday is one of the busiest times of the year. From large parties, to individuals just looking for a drink with friends, Relli’s was full of new and returning customers ready to watch the big game.
With specials on food and drinks throughout the night, there is never a spare moment. But no matter how busy they may be, John still made time to connect with the customers making sure that he keeps his relationship strong being in such a small close community.
“The relationship with the customers is a friendship. We really want to treat everyone like family,” Coscarelli said. “We want to provide an environment thats family friendly for everyone, whether you are from DeWitt or just passing through. You come into Rellis and feel at home.”
Coscarelli credits his employees with helping him run and maintain the restaurant on days such as the Super Bowl. Sarah Benjamin is a waitress and has only been at Relli’s for six months has seen first hand the type of community Relli’s provides.
“The people are great. The regulars who come in a lot treat me like family and create a great atmosphere,” Benjamin said. “It’s not only the customers. The employees are great, we have a lot of fun after we close, laughing and joking around listening to music. I really enjoy working here.”
J.R. Young who has been coming to Relli’s since its opening, has never been to a sports bar as family friendly as Relli’s.
“The employees know who I am and everyone is friendly,” Young said. “It’s more of a family bar, because you see kids running around. It’s not only a sports bar, but place you can bring your family to and enjoy a nice meal.”