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The Great Connector

Alissa Carnazzo knows style, and just about everyone in town too.
PUBLISHED ON
November 11, 2023

Cover photo by Kelsey Wisdom

You could call her the Kevin Bacon of Carmel. Though there’s usually far fewer than six degrees separating Alissa Carnazzo from anyone else around town.

A natural connector, it’s no surprise that Alissa’s in the business of bringing people together through her luxe stationery line, Alissa Bell, as well as her family-run neighborhood restaurant, Stationæry. The through line? Modern style built on relationships.  

Her papeterie is a clean, minimalist collection of letterpress paper goods and accessories that emphasize the art and emotion of the handwritten. Its Signature Envelope is the perfect encapsulation of Alissa’s style, with its simple yet statement-making asymmetric silhouette—the brand’s aesthetic has captured the attention of high-profile collaborators (more on that below) and national media outlets such as Goop, New York Magazine and Martha Stewart for its timeless-yet-modern appeal. 

But if snail-mail isn’t your forte, you can also find Alissa in person at Stationæry, the beloved Carmel eatery she co-owns with her husband Anthony. Known for its equally sleek design and its locally-sourced menu, the restaurant is as welcoming as it is delicious. Expect to see familiar faces who drop in for favorites like the potato pancake and chilaquiles, as well as the familial vibe that Alissa and Anthony always bring to the table. 

We caught up with the mom of three to talk about new launches, new (dinner!) hours at Stationæry and how she stays connected through it all.

- Angela Salazar

Photo Courtesy of Alissa Bell Press; Video by Grant Kinsey

Q&A

You have some exciting collaborations for your stationery line in the works. Tell us about what’s in store for summer.

For summer, ceramicist Rachel Saunders is creating a coffee vessel with us in sort of a Yves Saint Laurent blue and cream—a nod to the fact that my other day job is running a restaurant. Also to the idea of taking time for your rituals, and we’re incorporating letter writing with that and making a really cool tonal blue card with a script message that says “Out of the Blue,” which I think is really fun. It’s a lovely sentiment because it tells people, ‘this is your permission to write a note without having a reason.’

Do the brands you collaborate with attract a similar customer? 

One of the things Instagram analytics helped me figured out is who my customer is. I get a lot of Southerners and people who work in Washington DC and New York. The type of person whose sensibility is sophisticated and layered, who appreciates handwritten notes and still takes the time to do those things.

In addition to collaborations, you also manage to keep your core Alissa Bell collection fresh with new colorways and offerings.

I keep tinkering with my collection and expanding on it. It's mostly custom stationery. I have my Signature Envelope and I still offer a classic envelope, which is a slightly more price-approachable option. The other big part of my collection is the memo box. I created it because I think a lot of people get stationery, and then they put it in their desk drawer and never use it. I want it out on your desk so you don't feel shameful putting your social list or your daily to-do list on it. It's also nice enough that if you need a last-minute birthday card, you can use it. 

Supporting women and forging connections, particularly for fellow entrepreneurs, is something that's fundamental for you. Tell us about how that passion developed.

When I was living in Los Angeles, I participated in a women’s group that really got me in the practice of meeting in a weekly ritual sense and being each other's support—breaking bread together, having meals, and just doing life together. When I moved home to the Monterey Peninsula in 2018, I was craving that. I approached my friend, Stephanie Faddis, and I just said, ‘Hey, I really want to create this group. Would you be interested in doing it with me?’ 

It was meant to be for women who are either entrepreneurial-minded or entrepreneurial adjacent, just because oftentimes you don't have coworkers to bounce ideas off of, but it wasn't exclusively that. I think it allowed me to grow deeper in relationships with people that maybe lived here, but I didn't know well. I see them out in the community now and all these women who were part of the group are still friends and supporting each other and lifting each other's businesses up. 

Connection seems to be key to everything you do. After years of living above your restaurant and being involved in every aspect, tell us about your role now and how it’s evolved.  

My role at the restaurant is more background these days. Now, when I get to go be at service, it's more fun. It's just like popping around, saying ‘hi’ to people. I'm an introvert. Anthony's the extrovert of our couple, but I think I'm an extroverted introvert. I love visiting with people. It's really heartwarming to make connections with people in the room. I like that part.

What is coming up for the restaurant this summer? 

We started dinner service again in May. We stopped doing it at the end of 2021 because the world was so weird. The labor market is definitely a much more friendly place now, and we also don't have a newborn baby anymore. I just feel it's time. I think Anthony's vision has always been that we're the neighborhood joint where you can come for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It feels really exciting that we can get back to that. We're starting with three days a week, and soon we're hoping to be back at five days a week for dinner. 

How does the dinner menu differ from your other offerings? 

There are just six items on the menu. It changes every week to keep it interesting for our staff, our chef, and for the customers. Part of keeping good people is you also want to keep them creatively challenged. Everyone is really excited. I also love that, during dinner, we get to focus on wines and do an optional pairing every night. I think wine selection is my favorite part of my job. 

 In terms of summer events, what are you planning? 

We’re doing a dinner at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley. It's a working ranch. They grow grapes out there for their wine label and they have this beautiful, historic building. I'm excited about it, not only because it's going to be beautiful and fun, but it'll also be a neat opportunity for locals because you can't go there unless you're invited to an event. They have this really cool courtyard, which is where we'll do the dinner and, in summer, all of its roses will be in bloom. We've been talking about doing some other events too. (Editor’s Note: Follow Stationæry on Instagram for the latest event updates).

How has being a mom of three changed your approach to work and family life?

I think the best thing for me about parenting is it helps me realize that nothing is too serious. I think in my pre-kid life, I was more of a perfectionist. With the third child, it's just fun. It's like putting hot sauce on everything. Everything's better with hot sauce. <img src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/6457f19f1c1e1601e2c9c3f6/6487a9355b63a6818c705cea_CC-Icon--20.svg"alt="CC"height="20" width="20">

Photos courtesy of Alissa Bell Press

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CC moments

Alissa Carnazzo

01

I always start my day with

A cafe au lait (made by Anthony and our youngest, Massimo).

02

Every summer I look forward to

Bonfires on the beach with other local families, and all the kids running around.

03

The best place to shop for home design is

HUNT in Carmel Valley. And for gifts, House of Cardoon and Bee Bark & Moss in Carmel.

04

Foxy Couture can take all my money. It’s that good because

The owner Susan’s collection of vintage designer goods is unparalleled.

05

The best place to stay if you’re looking for a couple’s retreat is

Villa Mara and soon Le Petit Pali!

06

No trip to Carmel is complete without

Brunch at Stationæry ;)

07

CC moments

Alissa Carnazzo

01

I always start my day with

A cafe au lait (made by Anthony and our youngest, Massimo).

02

Every summer I look forward to

Bonfires on the beach with other local families, and all the kids running around.

03

The best place to shop for home design is

HUNT in Carmel Valley. And for gifts, House of Cardoon and Bee Bark & Moss in Carmel.

04

Foxy Couture can take all my money. It’s that good because

The owner Susan’s collection of vintage designer goods is unparalleled.

05

The best place to stay if you’re looking for a couple’s retreat is

Villa Mara and soon Le Petit Pali!

06

No trip to Carmel is complete without

Brunch at Stationæry ;)

07

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