"When we first started, we were never really striving to be the best restaurant in the state. We meant to be a neighborhood bistro where people would go maybe a couple of times a week and have some beer and wine. The change came because the people who were coming in thought we were the best," said the James Beard Award winning chef Tim McKee on the eve of his restaurant's ten year anniversary. Now, just two short years later, the restaurant that has been the pinnacle of fine dining, the proving ground for our next generation of chef and bar talent and the most elegant room around has announced that they will be closing.
Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl of Mpls./St. Paul Magazine spoke with McKee this morning before he had the awful task of breaking the news to his staff. He explained that there were several factors that have led to the restaurant's demise including high staffing costs, razor thin margins, road construction and the specter of the current Minneapolis mayor's so-called "fair scheduling" proposal. In the end, it costs too much to keep the doors open.
The importance of La Belle Vie to the Twin Cities dining culture cannot be over-stated. Tim McKee has raised the bar for all restaurants with ambiance, decor and second-to-none service. The talent that has poured forth from this venerable institution includes Mike DeCamp, Diane Yang, Jim Christiansen, Adam Eaton, Jack Riebel, Jamie Malone and those are just the chefs that have opened or are opening new restaurants in the last year. Johnny Michaels pioneered craft cocktails in Minneapolis, all the while adding an edge and undeniable rock n' roll cool to the sleek lounge. Bill Summerville expanding wine horizons. It has become a national dining destination and one of the few places Andrew Zimmern makes time to stop at when he isn't circling the globe.
Now where will we go when the best is gone?
The restaurant's final service will be October 24.