Recently, I was emailed and asked what was going on at Izola's Restaurant 522 E 79th Street, as individuals saw the legendary pictures come off the wall. So I decided to go and take a look and I saw what most of my neighbors have been seeing. The empty walls were a surprise. The pictures of politicians such as former Mayor Eugene Sawyer, Richard Daley, and current Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. There were pictures of politicians, entertainers and everyday people spanning several decades.
I have written several post regarding Izola's and the closing of other restaurants in Chatham. This past summer after a long illness Mrs. Izola White came out to enjoy the 6th ward picnic. This is what I wrote at that time
While the rain put a damper on most events August 20th in Chatham. When the rain stopped and the sun came out a Chatham legend came out as well. Mrs. Izola White, owner of Izola's restaurant, came out and graced us all at the 6th Ward Back to School picnic. Mrs. White was vibrant and in good spirits as she greeted customers and well wishers.
Contrary to rumors she is in good spirits and still lives in her home. She has had some financial setbacks but wants to reopen Izola's restaurant. A number of her supporters are planning a fundraiser on September 9, 2011 and are hoping to raise $35,000 to pay off past debts and be able to reopen the restaurant.
The friends and family had several fundraisers but have made a decision not to reopen the restaurant. I was notified by a spokesman that the restaurant was sold. A check with the Alderman's office reveal no permits have been pulled at this point, but they were notified that a new operator was planning to remodel.
I hope that they make the decision NOT to reopen under the Izola's banner because that is a formula for failure as with other soul food restaurants who have tried(i.e Glady's Army & Lou's), you can never meet or exceed the expectations of the patrons who dined at the original. Secondly, I hope that our local culinary institute Washburne Culinary Institute use this as an opportunity to start fresh and attempt to work with the new restaurant owners in the community by soliciting internships and permanent placements of graduates. Also, the Illinois Restaurant Association needs to support restaurant owners on the Southside. Lastly, the owners understand they have BIG shoes to fill and anything less than their best will be deemed unacceptable.