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Bell’s Has Been Sold; The Varsity Eyes Oconee Location

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Bell’s Food Stores, a small grocery chain with five locations in and around Athens, has been sold to another small Georgia grocery store company.

B&T’s Food Fresh Market bought Bell’s last week, according to a report in The Oconee Enterprise. B&T’s has four stores located in rural Middle and South Georgia towns and one in South Carolina.

“They are small, independent and family owned,” said Ralph J. Costa Jr., Bell’s corporate secretary and director of operations. “They are family oriented, just like the Bell family, and they do business the same we do.” 

Costa told the Enterprise that the two companies use the same wholesaler, so the product line will not change. Stores will keep the Bell’s name through the end of the year.

At the Hawthorne Avenue Bell’s last weekend, the beer and wine section was roped off with a sign stating that alcohol sales had been suspended pending new ownership.

The Enterprise also reported that there are two potential locations for a new Athens-area outpost of The Varsity, the famed fast-food chain that shuttered its Milledge Avenue restaurant in 2021. The Varsity previously announced that it would open a new restaurant on Parkway Boulevard in Oconee County, but now has also purchased a vacant former Burger King on Hog Mountain Road.