Stella Sola Rides Off into the Sunset

Are they still gonna serve crepes in the parking lot? Co-owner Bryan Caswell cites the departure of chef Adam Dorris along with the possible impending sale of the wild-western-style mixed-use building his restaurant is housed in as the reasons he shut down Stella Sola over the weekend. “For me to go out and try to recruit a chef would have been the wrong thing to do — to convince a young chef to get excited about something we couldn’t guarantee,” Caswell tells Chronicle food reporter Greg Morago. Stella Sola moved into the restaurant space at the corner of Studewood and 10th St. in late 2009 as a replacement for Bedford, which had opened with the building the previous year.

Photo: Stella Sola

29 Comment

  • Oh well, that place didn’t feel very “Heights” anyway. I would love to see a casual but quality pizza joint go in that spot. Pitchers of cheap beer would be nice too….

  • Crud. I really liked Stella Sola a lot. Very creative food and good quality. I do not understand how the landlord would let this happen unless there is a potential buyer out their with a tenant restaurant already lined up. Not many people out there want to lease a space with a specially made giant wine fridge and salumi case.

  • Raised Cottage: That would be a bitchin’ spot for a Collina’s.

  • “Not many people out there want to lease a space with a specially made giant wine fridge and salumi case.”

    Are you kidding? There is a long list of current/potential restauranteurs who would LOVE to find a space like this they didn’t have to retrofit themselves. I predict another cool meat-centric bistro.

  • I’m not going to try to parse “didn’t feel very Heights” because I’m afraid it’ll come down to being designed for 4-year-olds or having the word “Creek” in the name.

    Very sad to see it close.

  • I blame the Heights Wal-Mart and its sit-down-only golden arches for driving away another neighborhood institution.

    But you can’t blame Chef Dorris. He was wise to make a graceful exit rather than engaging in a hopeless throw-down against Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets. He saw the writing on the wall and knew the game was over.

  • Heights still needs good sushi and indian

  • sushi or the pizza joint mentioned above is my vote

  • What a shame. The place was pretty good. I agree the building is not readily suitable for the typical, casual Heights restaurant. I just hope it doesn’t become part of the Fertita empire. I don’t think a Brenners or Oceanaire Seafood Room belong in the Heights.

  • steaks would be a good fit. there is a lot of competition for dining dollars in the heights right now. whoever the new operator ends up being they will need to execute from day one.

    dream

  • Shame, that was a good place. I recently met some cooks from there and I dont think they had any clue that this was coming at all.

  • Barnaby’s! Come to the Heights!

  • I thought the layout of the building presented problems from the jump for both restaurants (Bedford and Stella Sola), but loved the food at Stella Sola. I completely disagree with Raised Cottage about Stella Sola’s appropriateness in the Heights. And Colinas? – no thanks. It would be better if Poscol moved there from its current location on Westheimer.

  • Drats.I like Stella Sola. The food was delish.But was it rich. Could only have it in small portions. Too bad it closed. But that IS the restaurant business. Bryan did what he and Bill Floyd had to do. I wouldn’t wan to race to the bottom and try to compete with lesser establishments.

  • Typo correction: WANT to…

  • “I blame the Heights Wal-Mart and its sit-down-only golden arches for driving away another neighborhood institution.”

    This had no more to do with Wal-Mart than the man in the moon. Gawd some of you people just floor me. Get real.

  • @ CK: The Heights anti-Wal-Mart activists argued that Wal-Mart would put local establishments such as Urban Soles out of business. And hey, if that’s true then surely Mickey D’s could put down Stella Sola. I’m just trying to extend to the RUDH crowd all of the credence that they deserve…

    (Current Events + Insanity) * Joke –> Laughter –> Sanity

  • Not to mention the food was not good, the service was bad, and the staff was pretentious

  • Maybe this is just the spot Randy Rucker has been looking for?

    There are a lot of casual restaurants in the Heights (yeah, including a Collina’s). We need something that is similar to Stella Sola to replace it— someplace where Heights area people can take out of towners and clients for a nice dinner, and someplace where people from other parts of town come to drop some coin.

  • @Mies, you’ll get Poscol over my dead body! ;) Sad to see Stella Sola go – delicious food, bold flavors. Oh well, I should know in Houston never to grow too attached to anything.

  • Sounds like a excuse to me unless there is already a new owner with a new tenant lined up. The value of the building for a new owner is that it has a successful sitting tenant in it, not always a given with restaurant space. Either that or I blame Chick-fil-a.

  • Blame the loss of their chef, sale of the building. Otherwise you’re all way off base, and the anti walmart crap is so 2010.

  • Too bad I really enjoyed dodging valet parking crew. They will be missed. Perhaps a starbucks will move in.

  • TheNiche, if it’s any comfort, I got what you were going for.

  • Glass Wall has been there 6 or 7 years and Shade even longer. Glass Wall crew could take over next door and I could finally get a seat in the bar on a Friday night! (:

  • I’m sure the employees of this place really enjoyed being told not to clock in tomorrow, we’re closing down for good tonight.
    The story Caswell is putting out there doesn’t make lots of sense to me on the business side of things. If the building sells, in most cases the new owner would have to honor the existing lease. Now maybe the lease comes up in 30 days, but otherwise, I think this story line is fishy. Also, Caswell owns a couple other places. Could you not take one of your talented sous chefs from Reef or Little Bigs and train her or him how to prep Stella Sola’s menu? Maybe Caswell is behind in payments to suppliers and wouldn’t have much to sell Tuesday without a check? I think there’s a back story to this sudden closure that will come out at a later date.

  • Buyer takes the property subject to the existing lease unless it is a foreclosure. Caswell bought the Bedford and turned it into Stella Sola. He probably has been operating on the Bedford’s original lease, which was more likely than not a 5 year lease. Bedford moved in to the new building in 2008. So, if it was a 5 year lease, it would be up soon.
    Frankly, I think Caswell just made a business decision to avoid the risk of a downturn in business when a new chef comes in and the risk of seeing his rent get boosted at the same time. Stella Sola’s menu did have some seasonal variations and interesting specials that would not be something you would expect a talented sous chef to be able to walk into without a hitch. Also, when Bedford moved in, the dining scene in the Heights was nothing like what it is today (D’Amico’s, Liberty Kitchen, Zelko Bistro, Sale Sucre soon, Sonoma soon). Rent for that space is surely going to go up in light of all the new dining traffic in the neighborhood. Sometimes just gotta know when to fold ‘em.

  • Shadyheister – NAILED it. Caswell’s restaurants are ok they aren’t spectacular. I’m assuming 98% of the people who post on this have never ran a business,much less a restaurant. Go back to the office and make your $90k (if that) and quit acting like you know how businesses run.
    Bottom line – If you are so gifted, leave your cubicle job and try it on your own for minimum 3 months. These yupsters/hipsters need to stop acting like acting their opinions mean something. GO BACK TO THE OFFICE and stay there and stop commenting on where and when which businesses shpuld be going somewhere. Now go back to doing cubicle work and leave the risk-takers to make the moves.

  • @Ben – you can’t have an opinion about the restaurants you eat in unless you’ve run a business? WTF?

    PS – I’ve run a business.

    Happy Friday to you. Try to relax.