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After 16 years in downtown Salt Lake City, the Metropolitan restaurant is closing.
On its last night, Friday, the restaurant known for its new American cuisine and stylish cocktails will offer a menu that includes dishes from each year of its history, said managing partner Karen Olsen.
She acknowledged that the past few years amid the economic downturn have been a struggle but said that this year business had been picking up. She was considering changing the restaurant's concept and remodeling "we had the blueprints and everything" but has decided to leave the business to pursue goals she had been putting off.
"I just have other interests that I have put on the sideline for the past few years that I want to pursue. It's just that simple."
Olsen, who has a master's in clinical psychology and worked in California as a therapist, wants to pursue a career in Utah as a life coach. "After 15 years running a restaurant, I've learned a lot about people and consulting. I'd like to head back in that direction."
Olsen's impact on downtown and the restaurant scene has been enormous since she arrived in 1995, said Jason Mathis, executive director of the Salt Lake Downtown Alliance.
"Karen is a pioneer. That section of downtown [300 South at 200 West] was desolate. But with her energy she was able to change it into something vibrant." Brokers for three new restaurants are interested in the location, he said.
The venue "and the quality of design work in the building make it a hot commodity," he said. "It won't be on the market long."
Olsen and her partners own the building at 173 W. Broadway (300 South), and both the business and the building are up for sale as a unit or separately, she said.
"The restaurant has been officially on the market since [Monday], and the phone hasn't stopped ringing."
Many in the food community say Olsen will be missed for her work to market Salt Lake's dining scene through innovative menus and events such as the fall Dine O'Round, which encouraged people to dine out at downtown restaurants by offering special menus and prices.
"Karen was the founder of Dine-O'Round. It grew from her desire to do something great for downtown," said Mathis. "She's definitely a force of nature."
Metropolitan's last meal's a doozy
Friday night, Metropolitan's menu will include 16 dishes (representing the 16 years it has been open) for $75.