Was it a curse that closed yet another Minneapolis restaurant? Owner says no



Can fine dining be a little too fine? In Minneapolis, where yet another hot restaurant has been shuttered, the answer might be "yes."

The sudden closure of Parella on Monday follows the highly publicized (and surprising) shutterings of other fine-dining restaurants like Brasserie Zentral, and perhaps most famously, Le Belle Vie, which closed late last year despite having once been called the most important restaurant in Minneapolis.

Parella, which opened in July and specialized in rustic Italian, got plenty of enthusiastic reviews, including one from Mpls.St.Paul Magazine in which the author exclaims, "they’re doing (Italian) the right way!” City Pages called it "superb" and predicted it would be Uptown's "new hotspot."

So what went wrong?

Some have described the spot it was in – Calhoun Square, where popular Italian eatery Figlio once reigned – as "cursed" because of the revolving door of restaurants that have failed to survive there since 2009.

There is also a lot of culinary competition in Uptown and the Twin Cities in general. Even City Pages conceded the restaurant never seemed to reach its potential "because too many similar concepts were cropping up all at once."

But owner Michael Larson says he knows what really happened: "Parella's failure was me not delivering on what the area wanted," he told BringMeTheNews in an email, emphasizing the closure wasn't because of other restaurants or the "so-called curse."

"Parella delivered too high of a dining experience and that is not what Uptown wanted in the end," he explained. "If a restaurant does not capture the neighborhood, it will not survive."

He went on to say the eatery just couldn't attract enough diners during the week, adding, "you can't run a restaurant based on Friday and Saturday sales alone."

The owner of La Belle Vie made similar observations about fine dining when his restaurant closed, saying consumer tastes were changing. 

Parella's final month was also filled with change. The noted chef who helped launch it, Todd MacDonald, made an "abrupt departure" from Parella to work for burger joint Red Cow, Minneapolis Eater reported.

Additionally, Larson very recently revamped the bar menu to attract the happy hour set in a bid to make the restaurant more "approachable and fun," he told the Pioneer Press.

Larson says he has a new restaurant concept in the works.

Is it true what they say about new restaurants?

You've probably heard it before: the "mortality rate" for new restaurants is outrageously high, and most close within their first year in business.

But according to Restaurant Startup & Growth magazine, that's probably a lot of hogwash. They commissioned a study that found there was a 23 percent failure rate of first-year restaurants.

That's probably not low enough to help new restaurateurs sleep at night, but it's a long way off from the conception that getting into the dining business is riskier than other ventures, the publication says.

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