Stella Sola Closed Its Doors on Sunday

Categories: Restaurant News

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Photos by Troy Fields
Stella Sola says "arrivederci, y'all."
Bryan Caswell announced today that Stella Sola, his Texan-Tuscan restaurant in the Heights along with partner Bill Floyd, closed its doors on Sunday. The announcement followed months of rumors that Stella Sola would soon be closing, a result of the building in which it was housed going up for sale.

"It wasn't an easy decision," said Caswell by phone. "But there's no reason to drag it out."

Caswell cited chef de cuisine Adam Dorris's departure and the uncertain fate of Stella Sola's building -- which he and Floyd leased, but did not own -- as the two main reasons for closing the popular restaurant, which opened in late 2009. Under its previous chef de cuisine, Justin Basye, Stella Sola pioneered the charcuterie movement in Houston and even netted Basye a James Beard semifinalist nod in 2010. Basye left Stella Sola a year ago to pursue other projects.

What made Stella Sola unique was -- as Caswell acknowledges -- the fact that it was "a way [for him] to run a chef-driven restaurant without being there every day." As such, talented chefs de cuisine like Dorris and Basye were vital to Stella Sola's success.

"The fact that Adam [Dorris] was splitting, it was kind of timely," said Caswell of the closure, as Dorris recently gave his two weeks' to Caswell and Floyd. "Adam had four days left on his notice."

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Gone are Stella Sola's dal giardino salad, XL meatballs and excellent wine program.
After Dorris's notice, Caswell and Floyd made the decision to close Stella Sola in conjunction with what he calls the "building's uncertain future."

"What do you do?" Caswell asked rhetorically. "There are plenty of restaurateurs who'd go out there with a big smile on their face and try to recruit some young guy and say that everything's fine. So we decided to close rather than rebuild on uncertain ground."

The employees, for the most part, will be reabsorbed into the Caswell-Floyd empire at places such as Reef, Little Bigs and El Real Tex-Mex Cafe. "Most everybody is coming into the team," said Caswell. "Things appear down because of Adam leaving, but almost everybody has a job in the other restaurants."

During its brief but bright run in the Heights, Stella Sola racked up raves from Texas Monthly to The New York Times, as well as across Houston.

"It was a beautiful restaurant and I loved it," said a sad-sounding Caswell. "I built it. It was a part of me and I miss it already."

"But we've got plenty to keep us busy."



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Location Info

Stella Sola - CLOSED

1001 Studewood, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Reef

2600 Travis St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Little Bigs

2703 Montrose, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

El Real Tex-Mex Cafe

1201 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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33 comments
Shepard Ross
Shepard Ross

I'd love to be my own next door neighbor!

Pissed off bride
Pissed off bride

My wedding was planned at this restaurant on May 26...thanks for the notice...jerks!

JB
JB

Heard from investors that Shepard from Glass Wall has a concept for that space. Viva la Heights!

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

I wish places like this would give notice prior to closing.  This place would have sold out if they had let folks know they were closing shop a couple weeks prior to doing so.

Guest
Guest

There's always Olive Garden.

Ron
Ron

Bryan go ahead and close Little Bigs too. Hopefully something lame like Little Woodrows doesnt take Stella's space 

Bill
Bill

I'd like to see the Revival Market guys do something with that space.  Some kind of extension of their work on Heights Blvd.

Just thinking out loud....

Pho Reel Dough
Pho Reel Dough

I hope they do something to rescue abysmal El Real. That restaurant is god awful. There should not be that much salt on Tex-Mex. I hope the next restaurant that opens at that location can make good food (not even extraordinary, just decent, non-vomit inducing food unlike El Real). El Real competes with Burger King for the worst restaurant on the Westheimer Strip.

I make better Tex-Mex than El Real if 3am drinking all day drunk. Did they purposefully create a menu to turn off foodies and Montrose in general?

iMidget
iMidget

While I enjoyed Stella Sola every now and then, it just wasn't one of those places that could be a neighborhood restaurant.  The menu didn't lend itself towards more frequent dining.

Jim Ayres
Jim Ayres

I had a very nervous feeling this was one of your blind items a while back. Maybe not... but I'll miss Stella Sola. My birthday dinner there last November was amazing. Never got to try that suckling pig!

GimletV
GimletV

Looking forward to the Mexican charcuterie and meatball tacos at El Real!

 

Kelli
Kelli

Oh god, not anothing Lance Fegan institution.

DLehmann
DLehmann

I wish brokerages and banks would give fair notice as well, before suddenly vanishing into thin air. We could inject money into them to help out and to celebrate the nostalgia after all.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I hear that one of the tenants who's looking to move into the space is someone else who deals heavily with meat. Someone who's very well-known for his steaks, in fact...

Ed T.
Ed T.

"Did they purposefully create a menu to turn off foodies and Montrose in general?"

Sure they did! The investors took a wad of cash (they are part of the "1%" obvs) and said "I know what we can do with this $$$$MONEY$$$$$ - let's build a restaurant that has a menu which will cause Montrosians in general (and foodies in particular) to projectile vomit like people who have been been 'drinking all day drunk'!"

~EdT.

Maggie_Mae
Maggie_Mae

White Oak is now lined with casual "neighborhood" restaurants.  Which are great, but sometimes you want more.  Stella Sola was a bit rich for my blood but I wish I'd dropped by more often for happy hour.

Oh, well.  I'll be sure to check out whatever takes its place....  

Luckydog
Luckydog

The suckling pig was beautiful and delicious

Guest
Guest

Not Lance, Shepard Ross. These two are no longer partners. Shepard does a great job at Glass Wall, friendly, knowledgeable, down to earth. He knows the heights like the back of his hand. If he has a concept for that space, here's betting it's a winner and will be a heights fav.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

 You obviously don't understand how money and the economy works, so I'll just have to call you stupid.

Jessica
Jessica

wow a killens there would be awesome.  didnt' he tweet awhile back he was looking to open a place in town.  

FrankSpeaks
FrankSpeaks

So basically, the whole "the building might be sold" excuse is a load of crap?  There's no reason Stella couldn't have stayed open if a new tenant or new restaurant is just going to move in when they're gone... it's more likely that the restaurant wasn't doing well and the loss of this chef put the nail in the coffin...  Most people know that the buyer of a building takes the space subject to the existing leases... This just seems like a convenient excuse.

Maggie_Mae
Maggie_Mae

But you are smart enough to sober up before posting here!

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

 As to what?  What could possibly happen to a restaurant doing this?  I guess I am ignorant, because I would certainly think that a restaurant should go out in style.  If the industry acts like rats on a sinking ship, then that is a shame. 

DLehmann
DLehmann

You obviously don't understand how restaurants work, so I'll just have to call you stupid.

propertyowner
propertyowner

Maybe Killen wants to BUY the space? And not rent? So maybe it isn't all crap...

Steve
Steve

Of course it's relevant. The "why" of restaurants opening and closing in Houston is completely germane to the conversation. For what it's worth, it looks like FrankSpeaks is right.

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