DON SHIER, SOLERA COCINA DE ESPANA
Title: Director of sales and marketing
Small plates featuring local ingredients and 1,000-seat event space helped bring new sales and marketing director Don Shier to Solera, the Spanish-style restaurant and event center in downtown Minneapolis' theater district.
Local ownership also appealed to Shier, who called this a new day for Solera, with a relatively new chef, management, menus and a renewed drive to customize weddings, receptions and other events to meet guests' needs.
"Solera has kind of reinvented itself," Shier said. "The event center here, the number of guests we can accommodate is way greater than any other restaurant. When you get up to parties for 500 or so, you're looking for hotel space. We can do 200 or 300 on one floor and 300 to 400 on another."
Both the restaurant and the event center feature fresh, local ingredients, whether guests are sharing tapas, or small plates, or dining on traditional fare, said Shier, who is responsible for overseeing and booking the event center, connecting with business, hospitality and tourism organizations and heading up various events and marketing initiatives.
Shier has held similar sales and marketing positions at other downtown restaurants, including Rosa Mexicano, the Capital Grille and McCormick & Schmick's. Shier has a degree in organizational development from Bethel University.
Before making the transition to hospitality and restaurants, Shier worked for 20 years as a director of music and liturgy. A professional musician and trained singer, he sang in opera companies and musical theater and directs a small choir in Anoka.
Q How is the downtown restaurant scene recovering from the Great Recession?
A It is coming back. When you compare restaurants to the event side of it, the restaurants took a much bigger hit. Entertaining is coming back. We see it with some of the wedding receptions -- they're not as cautious. It's a slow process but this is turning around.
Q Do you see more corporate events and entertaining now?
A I would say it's growing, not only in numbers of events but also what they're willing to do. When the market first hit the dust, the companies that had been in year after year to do an elaborate Christmas dinner were doing more of a happy hour-style reception, just scaling back. Now people are more comfortable going back to the more elaborate entertaining.
Q How did you make the transition from music to marketing?
A I realized I'm still doing the same job. I'm still creating a program that I want to be really good, that attracts people to be part of it and where you take good care of them. I still consider myself to be in the hospitality industry as I did back then, only instead of a steeple, I'm under a roof.