Fans of Dolce Vita may want to contemplate visiting the Montrose pizzeria sooner than later. The restaurant may not be open much longer.
Chef-owner Marco Wiles has listed the property at 500 Westheimer Rd. for sale, according to a posting on the commercial real estate website LoopNet. Reached by CultureMap for comment, Wiles confirmed the property — but not the Dolce Vita concept — has been put on the market. The restaurant will remain open for business until the sale has been finalized, which could be awhile. Wiles says he isn't in a hurry to sell, but the move is part of an overall strategy to slow down a bit.
"It's the beginning of an exit plan," Wiles says. "We decided to cash in some of our chips."
Specifically, Wiles, who also owns legendary fine-dining restaurant Da Marco and the casual, wine-driven Poscol, is contemplating retirement. At 60 years old, he says he wants to shed some of his day-to-day responsibilities while he's "still healthy and can enjoy life."
Wiles notes that he's fortunate to own all three buildings his restaurants' occupy. Those savvy investments have allowed him to build a nest egg. While he plans to keep Da Marco and Poscol for the time being, he says the time seems right to sell the Dolce Vita property.
"I don't feel like opening anything else. I've exceeded my expectations at [Dolce Vita]," he says. "Da Marco still kills it, and Poscol does well."
Still, the potential loss of the restaurant will likely surprise diners. When it opened in 2005, Dolce Vita helped bring traditional, Neapolitan-style pizza to Houston. Its vegetable-driven small plates (shaved Brussels sprouts with peccorino!), fried items, and pastas helped make the restaurant a hit even with those who didn't want a pie.
Wiles adds that he isn't interested in selling the Dolce Vita concept, describing that as a "different conversation" than the real estate transaction he's contemplating. Instead, Wiles says his preference is to wait for his son, Marco Jr., to graduate from college; if Marco Jr. wants to reopen Dolce Vita in a new location, Wiles says he'd "help him out" financially.
With a spacious patio, two stories of seating, and a private dining room, the property should appeal to lots of potential new owners. The listing price is only available to serious bidders.
That new operator will enter the market at a time of transition for Montrose restaurants. Older establishments such as Canopy and The Pass & Provisions have closed, and Indika is about to give way to a new concept. At the same time, prominent out-of-town restaurants, such as Voodoo Doughnuts and the Washington, D.C.-based salad restaurant Sweetgreen, have announced plans to open on Westheimer.