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

Thanksgiving Food Drive returns to Port Alberni

Volunteers will go door-to-door to collect non-perishable items

Tyee Club celebrates 80 years in Port Alberni

James Clark wins Fisherman of the Year award

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs rally for the win with five goals in third period

Port Alberni team has won two games in a row at home

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Takaya, B.C.’s intriguing lone wolf, seen eating seal and howling away on Discovery Island

Fun facts about Takaya the wolf, like his a 36-hour tour around Chatham, Discovery Islands

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

Most Read