Siblings Gianni, Susi and Ivo Solda celebrate the 50th anniversary of the restaurant their parents opened in 1969. Sonja Drinkwater photo

Solda’s Family Restaurant celebrates 50 years in Port Alberni

Restaurant is currently up for sale to “the right buyer”



Solda’s Family Restaurant recently celebrated 50 years—an amazing feat for any restaurant and nearly unheard of for a family-owned business.

Anna (Mama) and Giovanni Solda came to Canada to give their family a better life, starting in Tahsis where Giovanni worked at the mill. But it was Mama, who loved to cook and feed the millworks, who had the dream to open their own restaurant. When Betty’s Deep Fry came up for sale on Third Avenue (where Bread of Life is now), the family bought it.

It was 1969 and Susi Solda was just 10 years old when the restaurant opened. She and her brothers Gianni (12) and Ivo (17) worked alongside their parents. Younger sisters Lori and Rosa would join in when they were older.

“My father told us, be nice to the customers, treat them like family,” says Susi. That’s been the mission of the restaurant since the start: treat everyone like family. “The atmosphere, the family dynamics, it makes a difference to the customers.”

The restaurant expanded next door to become the Spaghetti House and it was the first restaurant in town to offer fresh-made pizza and a Sunday smorgasbord.

When the Alberni Mall was ready to open, the mall owner asked the Soldas to move to the mall. It took some convincing, said Susi. “We were good, we were happy where we were.”

But Solda’s did open in the mall. “We were the first business in and the last ones to leave (when the mall closed),” said Susi.

At the mall, Lori Solda came in to her own as front of house.

“The restaurant at the mall would never have been the same without Lori,” said Susi of her sister. “People just loved her.” Because Lori died a few years ago, she never worked at the current location on Beaver Creek Road.

The family also owned a restaurant in Parksville, but the family was just getting spread too thin and it was closed.

After the mall closed, Solda’s moved twice before settling at their current location on Beaver Creek Road. It had been a Chinese restaurant, so Ivo (who is owner now) renovated, expanded and added a patio. He continues to make improvements every year. Gianni and his wife Cindy still work with Ivo at the restaurant. Giovanni’s wife Patty does the books. Susi works at Schill Insurance, but still shows up on Sundays to help with the smorgasbord crowd – a role she started when she was just 13.

“I have never been unemployed,” laughs Susi.

As it is a family business, the grandchildren and now the great-grandchildren have worked at the restaurant, learning the skills Giovanni and Anna taught their children.

“I think we flourished because our parents instilled in us a strong work ethic,” says Susi. “We are all very grateful and thankful for our parents and that they crossed that water to come to Canada.”

When the family celebrated 50 years earlier this month, many former staff and customers came back to the restaurant, but some very important people were not there. Giovanni and Anna did not live to see the half century mark of the business they started.

“The community has embraced our family and our restaurant,” says Susi. “We know all our customers and we treat them like family. We get a lot of hugs from our customers.”

Unfortunately, none of the next generation of Soldas is interested in running the business and so it is for sale to the right buyer.

“It has to be a special person who takes over this restaurant,” said Susi.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

VIDEO: Man found dead near Alberni teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18

Soapbox derby a success in uptown Port Alberni

Organizers say an adult racing category is coming for 2020

Alberni teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

Two Port Alberni teens are missing after their vehicle was found on… Continue reading

Watch the museum come to life with Our Town in Port Alberni

July 23 event takes place at Gyro Recreation Park

Alberni drag racers travel to Port McNeill for event on airport runway

More than 20 drag racers from the Alberni Valley travelled to Port… Continue reading

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Police ask for help locating missing men last seen in South Surrey

Jeep that Richard Scurr and Ryan Provencher were in has been located unoccupied in Logan Lake: RCMP

Islanders have new cancer screening option with $6.5 M diagnostic suite in Victoria

The Gordon Heys Family PET/CT Suite was unveiled at the BC Cancer Centre-Victoria

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted of murdering Vancouver Island couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

B.C. Ferries crew member’s medical emergency causes cancellations on Nanaimo route

One sailing from West Vancouver and one sailing from Nanaimo cancelled Monday

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Most Read