I had suspected this for a while now, but I was still very saddened to hear confirmation that Metropolitan restaurant will close this week, permanently. "I went to Michigan to meet with my family and we decided to sell the restaurant," said owner-operator Karen Olson. Metropolitan was opened in 1995 by her brother Christophe. "We thought about rebranding and trying some new concepts, but finally decided to sell," Karen said.
Through the years, Metropolitan has set the standard here for innovative, contemporary American cuisine. Unfortunately, a revolving door of chefs and culinary teams -- Metropolitan has employed some 600 people through the years, according to Olson -- may have contributed to a perceived lack of stability in the kitchen. Personally, I always found the cuisine exciting.
I think a bigger problem is that Metropolitan got stuck very early on with the "big splurge" badge. It recent years, Metro has offered low-priced lunches, inexpensive bar snacks (they introduced sliders to the Utah dining scene), and value-priced dinners. Still, the place got labeled as a spot to splurge, a label that couldn't be shaken. That, combined with a trend in the restaurant biz towards more casual dining, probably sealed Metropolitan's fate.
Karen Olson isn't mourning, though. She's looking forward to a time of change and she wants people to come in and enjoy Metropolitan's last week in operation. The restaurant will be open to the public through Friday, and will host a private party on Saturday.
I'm never happy to see a restaurant close, because it usually means the end of somebody's dream. The Olson family dreamed BIG when they opened Metropolitan -- in 1995, it was unlike anything we'd ever seen in Utah. I'm happy that, over the years, I was able to walk through that big dream a bit. And, any restaurant that lasts for 16 years can only be considered a success. That is quite a run and it was sure fun while it lasted.
I will miss Metropolitan dearly, and I wish Karen, Christophe and the Olson family all the best, wherever their new ventures take them.