As everything was shut down in the middle of the pandemic, Yella Grille owners Danielle and Carlo Berdahn took advantage of the slowdown to redecorate their restaurant.
They started a collaboration with Boston-based interior designer Taniya Nayak, best known for her work on HGTV and the Food Network, after the Merrimack Valley gas disaster in late 2018.
However, the couple didn’t have the time to implement the design plan, which Nayak worked on pro bono, until the pandemic.
With the slow down in business due to COVID-19, the restaurant owners were finally able to redo the space.
Now the restaurant's walls are white instead of purple. An employee’s art fills one wall, and plants hang on the other.
“I wanted it to be white but not cold,” Danielle said, explaining the new decor.
Danielle had followed Nayak’s career on television.
The interior designer, who also owns multiple restaurants in Boston, has appeared on "Designed to Sell," "Billion Dollar Block," "House Hunters on Vacation" and "Urban Oasis."
Danielle reached out to Nayak for help redesigning the Andover restaurant after the gas disaster. Danielle said they went “back and forth and she was cheering us on.”
“When you see her on TV she’s gracious and kind. And she’s even more gracious and kind in person,” Danielle said.
Nayak helped most with finding Yella's new furniture, Danielle added.
Finishing the renovation in the middle of the pandemic also forced the couple to ensure changes were more sterile. Instead of tables being covered with a cloth, they are now bare for easier cleaning, Danielle said.
The pandemic has brought many other changes to the restaurant and the couple's lives.
The Berdahns were forced to stay in the United States and not travel to see Carlo’s family in Lebanon. They usually visit to buy spices, try new foods and bring back ideas to their Massachusetts restaurants, Danielle said.
She looks forward to “being around the table with my husband’s family and reconnecting.”
Another big change is the way the Berdahns interact with customers. Danielle misses seeing the laughter and love from family gatherings and date nights, Danielle said.
“All of that is missing when people are walking in and picking up their food,” Danielle said. “Hopefully as they bring it home we are there with them.”
“We are the background music to these events and there’s a void without it,” Danielle said. “We are looking forward to being part of that again.”