Solera, a trendy fixture in downtown Minneapolis’ theater district for more than a decade, has closed.
“With hundreds of new dining options in town, most offering small plates, the Spanish food and wine niche seems too small for a 220-seat restaurant, two floors of event space and a popular rooftop bar,” said general manager Jay Viskocil in a statement. “The building owners are looking for a more accessible concept and have a number of interested parties.”
Solera was the influential brainchild of La Belle Vie owners Tim McKee and Josh Thoma. The ambitious project revived the former Backstage at Bravo, sprawling across a building adjacent to the Orpheum Theatre on Hennepin Avenue S. and 9th Street in Minneapolis.
On the food-and-drink side, Solera was a major trendsetter, with a menu that emphasized a huge array of Spanish tapas; the bar stocked dozens of sherries. Solera earned a four-star review from the Star Tribune; later that year, McKee and Thoma were named the Star Tribune’s Restaurateurs of the Year, a precursor to the newspaper’s annual Restaurant of the Year award.
McKee and Thoma parted ways in 2010 and sold Solera to a subsidiary of the Hennepin Avenue Opportunity Fund, which turned the facility over to Graves Hospitality Corp. Longtime chef Jorge Guzman departed in mid-2014 to create the dining side of Surly Brewing Company’s just-opened $34 million complex in southeast Minneapolis.
Graves has another Minneapolis project in the works. Its Bradstreet Craftshouse, formerly a first-floor anchor of the Graves 601 Hotel (which the company sold to Loews Hotels & Resorts last summer), is moving into the former Rye Deli and re-christening itself Bradstreet Neighborhood Craftshouse. Construction is underway.