(Chef Zack Close. Photo courtesy of Glass Light Hotel.)

By Jeff Maisey

Zack Close, who spent a decade in New York City and worked with Daniel Boulud at his Michelin- starred restaurant, Café Boulud, before returning to his hometown of Norfolk to become the Executive Chef at the Glass Light Hotel Restaurant in 2023, is branching out on his own this summer. The spot: the former Voila restaurant in the historic Freemason District in Norfolk. 

To lear more about Zack’s big plans, I caught up with him for a quick Q&A. 

What will you name the new restaurant?

The restaurant will be called “ILO Bistro” (pronounced eye-low). It comes from a nickname that some of my parents’ friends have for my mom.


What is your menu focus regarding entrees and appetizers?

The restaurant will be a neighborhood bistro with modern French and Mediterranean influences (a mix between my mostly French training and my Greek heritage). A changing seasonal menu with focus on local products as much as possible. A few snack type bites, small shareable plates, pastas and then entrees. Overall, on the more casual/approachable side of things but still offering quality ingredients prepared with creativity and skill.


What sort of wine, cocktails, and beer philosophy are you to offer to pair with the menu?

For the beverage program, we want to focus on smaller wine producers who practice more biodynamic/organic growing and production. Craft cocktails as well as zero-proof beverages and a beer selection that is also more in the craft realm (but you might also still find a PBR, Modelo or Budweiser floating around in there somewhere).


How will you change the interior decor — furniture, lighting, wall colors, and the bar?

We will be freshening up the entire space. The layout will all stay exactly the same but will be getting new furniture and lighting. Repainting the walls a lighter color. My parents (Monticello Antique Shop) are going to be building a new back bar display and there will be an accent wall covered in wall paper behind the bar area. We really want to make sure that it still has the feel of the Freemason neighborhood and that history.

What is your projected opening date? I hear “sometime” this summer.

For the opening date, we are shooting for July (fingers crossed).

How many seats at tables + bar?

There will be roughly 40 seats total depending on configuration. 30 or so on the floor and about 8 at the bar.

What will be your days/hours of operation?

It will be dinner only and will start with Tuesday – Saturday and then hopefully adding in Monday night soon after (closed Sundays). Bar will open at 4pm with snacks and then dinner at 5pm. Will stop seating at 9pm during the week and 10pm on the weekends (Fri + Sat).

Any additional thoughts?

Mainly  we are just very excited about taking over this space/location as it’s always been my dream to open my own restaurant since returning from NYC. We’ve always loved the Freemason neighborhood and look forward to hopefully bringing another good restaurant to the area.