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Zias in Summerland celebrates 25 years at iconic stone restaurant

Zias Stonehouse Restaurant in Summerland.
Zias Stonehouse Restaurant in Summerland.

Zias Stonehouse Restaurant in Summerland has a rock-solid foundation.

As a local heritage building, it's naturally full of history. The decor includes hundreds of portraits of long-time guests over the past 25 years. But long before it became Zias, the thick, stone frame was finished in 1916 by Alfredo Biagioni, whose grandchildren and great-grandchildren are now regulars at the restaurant.

Owners Shannon and Claude Ferlizza offer a menu that's largely influenced by European flavours. Their first chef was from France and many of his plates have become fan favourites, like the Chicken Champignon.

Shannon spent years working at Theos in Penticton which inspired some Greek options. “‘Theo’ means ‘uncle’ in Greek and Zia means ‘aunt’ in Italian, so it was kind of a homage to Theo (Theodosakis, previous owner) who was a mentor of mine back in the day,” she said.

And dishes like the Sicilian Linguine reflect Claude’s Italian heritage. After the building was purchased, the Ferlizzas learned that the Biagioni family lived relatively close to Claud’s family in Italy many generations earlier. That explained why a wine cellar was part of the century-old basement – “Italians love their wine,” Shannon said.

The Ferlizza’s children also work at Zias, and Shannon said the secret to the restaurant's success is making the food with love, and treating all of their staff like family. Some employees have been there since opening day in 1998.

The outdoor area also offers a large play space for young children. There's a large flower garden that’s maintained by two local volunteers. And part of their patio is covered by grape vines, which are nearly 80 years old.

“But we made wine from there one time it was horrible,” she said.

And the Ferlizzas also helped make the Sunflower Cafe possible, as they sponsored the Ukrainian refugees who own it.

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