Minnesota's paragon of fine dining, La Belle Vie is closing

La Belle Vie's pitch-perfect lights will go dark for good after October 24th.

La Belle Vie's pitch-perfect lights will go dark for good after October 24th.

It was in a class all by itself, and now there will be none of its kind. La Belle Vie, the Twin Cities' fine dining powerhouse, is shuttering its doors after its final dinner on October 24. 

The Star Tribune has reported that Tim McKee's biggest, glitteringest claim to fame is closing for the most mundane reasons— changing tastes, road construction, not enough consumer demand, changes to the industry such as the minimum wage hike. The closing is proof positive that one can be doing everything right, and sometimes it simply isn't enough. The restaurant industry be a cruel mistress, indeed. 

That said, it lasted more than a lifetime in restaurant years— seven and a half at their flagship location in Stillwater, and a decade in its current location at 510 Groveland. 

The passing is as depressing as that of Nye's, or Peter's Grill or any other Grande Dame that held us in its thrall for so long. As has been reported elsewhere, the establishment sprouted countless great talents, and is arguably responsible for up to a third of the important chefs, restaurateurs, and talent we currently call our own. 

But it's no accident why there aren't many restaurants like La Belle Vie. People don't really dine this way anymore, preferring fine food in more casual settings at lower price points. McKee was quoted in the Star Tribune as saying that the restaurant is ultimately closing, along with the other factors, is because of its status as a special occasion destination.

“The problem is, people don’t have enough special occasions,” he said. “The underlying message of all this is, if there’s a restaurant that means something to you and you really think is important, it’s your responsibility to keep them busy.”

La Belle Vie’s final dinner will be served on Oct. 24, one day shy of the 10th anniversary of the restaurant’s debut at 510 Groveland.

Over 40 people will be losing their jobs along with the closing, many of whom have been with McKee since the beginning. 

McKee is also partner and vice president of culinary development for Parasole Restaurant Holdings and owner of Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque in Stillwater and is a consultant for several other local restaurant properties.