Solera 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.”
When it opened in 2003, 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 Av. and 9th St. in downtown 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 to a subsidiary of the Hennepin Avenue Opportunity Fund, which turned over management of the facility to Graves Hospitality Corp. Longtime chef Jorge Guzman departed earlier this year to create the dining side of Surly Brewing Co.’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.