Adios to tapas
The year's first restaurant casualty is a big one: 11-year-old Solera pulled the plug on Jan. 2.
The sprawling Spanish restaurant and event center started out with a bang when it opened in 2003 at 9th and Hennepin in downtown Minneapolis, an exciting four-star turn into the world of tapas and sherries by Tim McKee and Josh Thoma of La Belle Vie.
When the McKee-Thoma partnership split in 2010, the restaurant was taken over by a subsidiary of the building's ownership, the Hennepin Avenue Opportunity Fund, and its management was turned over to Graves Hospitality Corp.
Graves exited in early 2014 and general manager Jay Viskocil stepped in. Chef Jorge Guzman left midyear to run the just-opened Surly Brewing Co. mega-complex (520 Malcolm Av. SE., Mpls., www.surlybrewing .com).
Hennepin Avenue Opportunity Fund plans to sell the building. Here's hoping the space doesn't stay empty as long as the nearby former home of Chevy's Fresh Mex (701 Hennepin Av. S.), which has been dark since mid-2007.
Two more closings: Pracna on Main, which sparked the revival of SE. Main Street in Minneapolis when it opened in 1973, launching a thousand fern bars (relive its history at Startribune.com/tabletalk), and the Uptown branch of Wuollet Bakery (2447 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.).
Brown on Bryant
Steven Brown is opening a second restaurant. Sing hallelujah.
The chef/co-owner of Tilia (2423 E. 43rd St., Mpls., www.tilia.com) has taken over the former Lynn on Bryant (5004 Bryant Av. S., Mpls.) and is creating a casual French restaurant he's calling Saint Genevieve.
"I'm sort of enamored by the thought of the buvette [a French tavern or taproom]," he said. "Years and years ago I was in Paris and I stumbled across a couple of places, just by accident, and they were curious and interesting. It'll be a place where you can come in with your girlfriend for lunch, and then bring the family back for a meal."
No substantial menu details yet, other than the restaurant will serve lunch and dinner. And "I'm sure brunch on weekends," Brown said.
Plans are to make fixes in the space, including consolidating two kitchens into one, freeing square footage for a (wine and beer) bar.
"I love when you walk into a place and it gives you a respite from the working world," said Brown. "Those are the kinds of places that are most attractive to me."
Opening date? "Oh god, I don't know, that's a loaded question," Brown said with a laugh. "Hopefully before summer. Let's just say, 'sometime in 2015.' "
Bagels in the new year
Here's some happy news for bagel lovers: Although their post at the Fulton Farmers Market is covered in snow for the next few months, Rise Bagel Co. (www.risebagel.com) co-owners (and siblings) Kate and Jen Lloyd continue to keep their boiling-and-baking routine.
They're popping up on Saturday at Dogwood Coffee Co. (4021 E. Lake St., Mpls., www.dog woodcoffee.com). From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the sisters will be selling their extraordinary bagels, along with whipped cream cheeses, including plain, chive, toasted walnut/honey.
From Friday through Jan. 18, chef Ryan Stechschulte at the Nicollet Island Inn (95 Merriam St., Mpls., www.nicolletisland inn.com) is going all-out with lobster, offering a four-course dinner (lobster chowder, lobster-leek terrine and lobster Newberg) for $65 per person. Reservations, 612-331-1800.