The Boxcar closes after dispute with landlord

Musician-restaurateur Johnny Solomon hit a rough patch lately, between a recent hospitalization and subsequent eviction from his home and business, the Boxcar, in Prescott, Wisconsin. The Hot Dish caught up with the Communist Daughter front man by phone as he was recouping from the events by playing pinball at Alary's bar in Lowertown, St. Paul, an area where he hopes to relocate.

Solomon says that a dispute with his landlord, Mark McGraw, former chef-owner of Confluence restaurant, which previously occupied the Boxcar's space, escalated last Sunday when McGraw locked Solomon and his staff out of the space as they tried to move out. Cops and sheriffs showed up in a scene straight out of a "wild west" movie, Solomon says. The popular restaurant is now closed, and Solomon says much of his equipment and possessions are being held ("He's got my cookbooks and my recipes"). Lawyers are getting involved.

Solomon was already considering opening a second restaurant in Lowertown, so he and business partner Nik Anderson are looking at new locations in the area, hoping to reopen the Boxcar with a similar menu of ribs and pulled pork and other Southern specialties. While Solomon says he likes food-music venues like the 331, he probably won't pursue that with the Boxcar 2.0. ("It'd be like a restaurant critic opening a restaurant," he says.) Solomon plans to tour with his band over the next few months but has his sights set on a spring reopening.

Will he be writing a song about the Boxcar's closure and his police escort out of Prescott? "It's a little too fresh of a wound at the moment," he says.

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