Gatley Paper Co. building

The Gately Paper Company, who occupied the old Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad Company building at 33rd and Market streets in Galveston, closed in June.

Historic deal? An old island company has closed its doors and readers are buzzing about who’s buying the building it long occupied.

Gately Paper Co., which had for decades supplied businesses, restaurants and consumers with food packaging, cleaning supplies, small wares, office products and more, began a liquidation sale in late June and has since closed.

Those in the know say Galveston Historical Foundation is working to buy the venerable building, 3304 Market St., that Gately Paper Co. occupied. Neither side is commenting about the sale of the 33,000-square-foot building.

Louis Gately, however, was willing to talk about closing of the family’s business. His father, Robert Gately, had died years back. His mother, Ann, is 81. “There were multiple factors that led to us wrapping it up,” Louis Gately said. “We had three people leading different lives.”

Gately Paper Co. began in 1956 as a grocery store and later added commercial distribution. In 1971, Robert and Ann Gately bought out the commercial distribution side of the company and Louis Gately’s uncles kept the grocery business.

The Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad Company initially occupied the building, constructed in 1904 as a freight depot, Louis Gately said. Cotton collected in the countryside was delivered to the warehouse in horse-drawn carts and taken to sailing ships, he said.

It’s important to Ann Gately that the building be preserved, Louis Gately said. “My mom particularly didn’t want it sold to someone who would smash it and put up a parking lot.”

A fond arrivederci: Meanwhile, there are more changes to the island’s business scene. Longtime Italian restaurant DiBella’s, 1902 31st St., is closed as owner Charley DiBella deals with health issues. DiBella’s, a cozy neighborhood restaurant that has survived storms and fires since it opened in 1989, last week posted a message on Facebook thanking patrons.

“We were blessed to have so many loyal customers, who then became like family to us. You let us take care of your weddings, graduations, birthdays and so many more of your family events.

“Sometimes, you came in just to spend time with friends, and maybe share a bottle of wine, or sit at the bar and visit with Charley, Frankie, or any of us, while you waited for a to-go order. There are so many memories. They will forever stay in our hearts.”

Hurricane Ike, which struck in 2008, pushed 4 feet of storm surge into DiBella’s. Not long after the restaurant reopened, it was damaged by a fire. But the DiBellas were determined to return. The DiBellas last week couldn’t be reached for comment. DiBella’s has for some time been for sale. Tom Schwenk of The House Company has the listing. Stay tuned.

Grill gossip: As one restaurant closes, another is planning a downtown island debut. The Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission has posted a sign on the door at 1827 Strand notifying the public that Coastal Grill Inc. has applied for a mixed beverage permit. Rumor has it that an upscale restaurant will open at the site. Stay tuned.

Boutique buzz: In other downtown news, Blu A Boutique by the Beach has opened at 2118 Postoffice St. between Hey Mikey’s and The Witchery.

Michelle Robach owns the shop, which carries home accessories, fashion apparel, beach bags, jewelry, bath lines and more. Her daughter Emma manages the shop. The boutique celebrated its grand opening Thursday. The family moved to the island from Austin, but has for years been spending weekends here. Michelle and her husband, Robert, own property on the island, including short-term rentals. Emma Robach is attending Galveston College, where she plans to earn a business degree. Michelle and Robert’s son Maxwell graduated from Texas A&M University at Galveston and is an engineer.

Batter up: Cupcake competition is headed this way. Smallcakes: A Cupcakery and Creamery is preheating for a Friendswood franchise at 3141 E. FM 528.

Jeff Martin is the creator of the fast-growing franchise concept. Smallcakes, which serves gourmet cupcakes and ice cream, has appeared on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” three times and on daytime talk show “The View.” No word on an opening date. Stay tuned.

On the burner: Meanwhile, look next week for spicy buzz about Friendswood’s Rancho Mexican Restaurant.

Back in business: Two years after a fire destroyed the Hampton Inn in Seabrook, the hotel has reopened, reports owner Sal Bhakta. The 70-room hotel, 3000 NASA Road 1, pays homage to its community with NASA artwork and photographs. “We are back and better than ever,” Bhakta said. “We can’t wait to get back into the community.”

The cause of the fire was never determined, Bhakta said.

Sears survival: Troubled Sears continues to shed stores, including the one at Baybrook Mall, which is conducting a liquidation sale. The Baybrook Mall store survived an earlier round of closures, but appeared on the list June 22 with another Houston-area store.

Sears at Mall of the Mainland in Texas City has so far survived the Illinois-based chain’s dreaded list.

Before the June announcement of more closures, Sears Holdings in January had announced a combined total of 245 closings. Sears shook up the retail scene earlier this year when it made a stunning disclosure to the Securities and Exchange Commission it had “substantial doubt” about its ability to continue operations unless it could increase its borrowing and tap cash from assets, according to reports.

Through the grapevine: A toast is in order. Santa Fe-based Haak Vineyards and Winery, 6310 Ave. T, won a Double Gold for its 2015 Tempranillo at the 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition. It also won Gold for its 2016 Semi-Dry Blanc Du Bois. The awards help bring attention to Texas’ growing wine industry.

“I’m so excited for Texas’ wine industry and the opportunity to follow and expand the path laid before me by the pioneers of our local industry,” said Tiffany Farrell, a winemaker at Haak Vineyards and Winery. “I extend much gratitude to our wine growers; they are paramount in our success.”

Laura Elder: 409-683-5248;

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