Bar Lola Closing/Owners Launching New Restaurant

Owners Guy and Stella Hernandez will be closing down Bar Lola as of November 16, and will be redirecting all their energies to launching a new restaurant in Portland. They’re close to securing a space for the as-yet unnamed restaurant and hope to open sometime in February 2014.

In explaining their motivation to launch a new venture, chef/owner Guy Hernandez explains,

We want to loosen our ties and make the process of cooking and dining out more transparent and less precious. A lot of places don’t give their customers the option to dine in a way they feel most comfortable – they’re either too rigid, have too many menu restrictions, or are too formal. And in most cases, food just magically appears from a distant kitchen. We want to change that paradigm and give the dining public a place in which they can feel that they are part of the action as an array of wonderful ingredients are transformed into dishes on the menu.

The plan is for the restaurant to be open 11am straight through to closing 6 days a week. They describe the new dining experience this way,

…from the moment you enter you’ll immediately be surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of the visible ingredients, coupled with real, accessible cooking, all anchored by a custom-made, wood-fired grill. It will be warm and welcoming, and will inspire customers to stop in at any time of the day to get a carefully crafted snack and glass of wine from an extensive by-the-glass list, supported by a deeper, by-the-bottle cellar. Or, customers can choose to compose a full meal from what’s on hand that day from the restaurant’s purveyors.

I’m a big fan of Bar Lola will be sorry to see it go but am very excited to see what Guy and Stella have in store for us next.

12 comments on “Bar Lola Closing/Owners Launching New Restaurant

  1. That IS sad news. Wonder what will become of the space and why the need to move elsewhere vs. a rehab.

  2. Sad to see BL close it’s doors. Munjoy Hill will not be the same. Look forward to seeing Guy and Stella somewhere new in Feb. Sayonara.

  3. I have to say I agree with the reason for the change, but Bar Lola had moved from an accessible restaurant to being “too precious” itself. That said, these two are smart and always have a decent dining concept…lets not forget they were part of the original team that brought decent food to South Portland. Loved eating at 158 when it had their dinner menu. In fact, it was easily one of the best restaurants in Portland then. Unassuming and brilliant, and something a single parent with a young kid could afford for a rare night out.

  4. Loved eating there many many times, until a month ago I thought the waitress made a huge error. My wife and I had two glasses of wine, and decided to split one more. I was charged for 5-glasses of wine, instead of a bottle which was a little cheaper. This really bothered me. I was surprised that the waitress did not discuss this with the owner and charged for a bottle instead of 5-separate glasses.

  5. Hopefully the new place will be good. While it’s totally their choice to change their concept or try to follow the latest trend, the description of the new concept makes me very worried. The claim that Portland is filled with “rigid,” formal restaurants is nonsense. There hasn’t been a new, formal fine dining restaurant opening in Portland in several years. The closing of Bar Lola will be leaving a much larger hole in the Portland dining scene than the niche they claim they will try to fill with their new restaurant. Open kitchens, fresh, local ingredients, wood-fired grills, “real cooking” (whatever that means) … these have all become nothing more than marketing terms copied from a playbook with well-worn pages. I for one am disappointed to see Bar Lola go only to be replaced by yet another Chez Panisse knock-off.

  6. I agree with Jay – it seems like every restaurant likes to use the typical buzz words and phrases, “open concept kitchen, fresh, local, etc”. These terms are overused, and already most places are adopting the “open kitchen concept” for better or for worse (i.e. Hugo’s…I miss their old layout with more seating).

    I applaud Guy and Stella for their success at BL and wish them future success – I only hope that they don’t fall in to the maze of trying to be the catch all of the latest buzz phrases.

  7. Good choice … Bad choice… Who knows Bar Lola better then the owners…Nobody..Take it easy Portland things will be great in our small city. And I an not sure any of you would close a place while doing well to take a risk… I would bet not

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