Solera Sold, Graves Takes Over Operations

The restaurant, which is owned by Tim McKee and Josh Thoma, has had financial difficulties due to a decrease in sales and corporate events.

Solera, a Spanish-style restaurant located in downtown Minneapolis' theater district, has been sold to a subsidiary of the Hennepin Avenue Opportunity Fund and will now be operated by Graves Hospitality Corporation.

Tim McKee, who owns the restaurant with Josh Thoma, said Solera has faced a difficult time financially due to a decrease in sales and events. The restaurant has 20,000 square feet that can accommodate up to 1,200 for corporate and private events, but it's had a hard time filling that space in recent months.

The sale, the terms of which were not disclosed, will be finalized Sunday. Graves Hospitality Corporation will assume operations beginning Monday.

McKee said that Graves-which also operates Graves 601 Hotel and its two restaurants, Bradstreet Craftshouse and Cosmos-plans to keep all of Solera's employees and maintain the restaurant's concept.

“From the public's perception, there shouldn't be a noticeable change,” he said. “Graves has much more resources to devote towards building sales and events.”

In addition to Solera, McKee and Thoma have partnered on other projects, including La Belle Vie in Minneapolis and Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque in Stillwater. McKee said that Thoma left gave up his ownership stake in La Belle Vie earlier this year citing “an internal decision” as the reason for Thoma's departure.

The two still jointly own Smalley's, but McKee said they are “going in different directions,” but wouldn't provide additional details about what that means.

McKee said that he is still involved with the culinary aspects of Sea Change-a seafood restaurant at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis-and Il Gatto, an Italian restaurant in Uptown. He is also working on a new restaurant called Masu Sushi Robata, which will open next spring in Northeast Minneapolis.

Thursday morning phone calls to Thoma and Graves Hospitality President Benjamin Graves were not immediately returned.