The Villa Nova restaurant, a local waterfront institution that has fed Orange County's well-heeled for 25 years, has filed for federal bankruptcy protection but plans to remain in business.
"We felt it was time to reorganize our financial picture," said Charlotte Dale, who with her late husband, Allen, moved the Italian restaurant to Newport Beach in 1967 after 34 years in Hollywood. "The restaurant will not change."
The filing is the latest sign of the economic distress being felt by upscale restaurants in the county during the recession. The ritzy Rex restaurant in Newport Beach closed in January, and Italianate Zeppa in Fashion Island closed in June, 1991.
Allen Dale Inc., the corporation that ran the Villa Nova on West Coast Highway, filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana. Under such a filing, the company is protected from creditors' claims while it attempts to reorganize its finances.
The petition lists assets of less than $500,000 and liabilities of less than $1 million.
Charlotte Dale said the bankruptcy filing will give her time to plan for the restaurant's future. "I have a lot of children who have to decide whether they want to be in the restaurant business," said Dale, who is 67.
At the Villa Nova, diners often need two reservations--one for their table and one for dock space when they pull up in their boats. It is one of the few restaurants along Newport Bay's Lido Channel that offers cruise-up service.
The restaurant also gained fame for its lively piano bar and rustic Italian-style architecture. The owners have rewarded local do-gooders with a monthly Villa Nova Outstanding Citizen Award.