This time we mean it: Alana Shock's moving on, possibly to Belize

Erin Edwards

Chef Alana Shock, who for years has been one of Columbus' most prized and inventive chefs, says she and her husband/co-owner Kevin Bertschi have put Alana's Food and Wine (2333 N. High St.) up for sale after 18 years.

"I have a great business here. People love this place, but I have been literally standing in my kitchen for 32 years now," Shock says. It's time for a change. So, what does the future hold?

"It's rather refreshing to not know," Shock says. She does, however, have options. One is a job offer in Belize. Her former college roommate's friends are planning to open an eco lodge in the Central American home of Mayan ruins, dense forests and the Caribbean Ocean. Shock was asked to travel down over her birthday in September to discuss the opportunity.

But while she's looking south, her husband has plans north. Bertschi signed a lease on a retail wine shop in downtown Sandusky, his hometown, after he and Shock stumbled upon the building recently. She says Bertschi plans to open a retail wine shop in late October or early November in the Lake Erie town.

Did the death of fine dining-an assertion Shock has made several times in the past-have anything to do with their decision to move on?

"Absolutely. I do think the whole formality of the dinner service is an art that's being lost and times have changed," she says. "What people want has changed."

Inside Alana's Food and Wine. Better grab a seat while you still can.(Tessa Berg)

Last summer, Shock entertained the idea of switching to a more casual menu and moving into a smaller space. Then this spring she announced that Alana's was sticking around for another two years.

For now Alana's will be open during its regular hours "until someone wants this place," Shock says, noting that ever since the news broke "it's been reservations central."

"People will call up the restaurant and say, 'Do you remember 16 years ago, you made me and my wife this dish and can you make it for us?' " Since Alana's menu changes daily based on the season and the market's offerings-that's a tall order.

"I don't even remember what Saturday's menu was," she says, laughing. "Hopefully I can make their dreams come true with a dish I don't remember from 16 years ago."

Shock says she hopes someday to open her own little seasonal market in Sandusky "unless the Belize thing turns out to be a home-run hit." For now, she's just looking forward to that birthday trip.