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Hawaiian Standby Sola Closing in April to Give Way to New Concept

Chef/Owner Carol Wallack plans retirement, but wants to launch a wholesale business.

Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

After nine years, the Sola diners have come to know is no more.

Chef/Owner Carol Wallack sold Sola earlier this year, as she plans on retiring from the restaurant business. She told staff of her decision six months ago, but her last day in the kitchen was last week.

"I'm kind of approaching the age to be retired," Wallack said. "I'm not a 30-year-old, up and coming person anyhow, it's time."

Wallack will remain in a consultant's role until April when the new ownership will close Sola for a new concept. The transition period gives her staff of about 30 a chance to find new work.

"I didn't want to be that person to screw my staff over," she said.

Sola celebrated nine years of serving up Hawaiian food in January. That's a nod to how Wallack grew up in California, as she describes herself as a beach girl. She got her start in Chicago at Deleece in Wrigleyville.

A confidentiality agreement binds Wallack from discussing the new owners' plans, she said. She wouldn't name the new owners, unsure if the agreement barred her from that, too.

Wallack's passion for the job waned, as she said her personal assistant embezzled "a lot of money." Wallack's mother also died two years ago.

"They said don't do anything for about year, don't do anything rash," Wallack said.

For the future, Wallack will spend more time in Hawaii where she has a home and can host dinner parties to "scratch the itch" of preparing food for groups. She also plans on launching a wholesale food line, though she wasn't ready to talk about that in detail.

Wallack's proud of Sola run of superior service and quality food. Through those nine years, she's seen Chicago's food scene transform. Some of those changes were positive. Some not so much.

"The part that really doesn't thrill me is this whole celebrate thing, I think it's moved a little bit away from food to some degree," she said. "Stephanie Izard, she's done very, very well. She can also cook well, but there's a lot of the people who can't."


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