Chef Goose Sorensen has been the heart and soul of Solera Restaurant & Wine Bar (5410 East Colfax Avenue) since the restaurant opened in 2002; he eventually bought the building and became the sole owner and proprietor, adding a welcome taste of upscale Spanish/Mediterranean cuisine to a stretch of Colfax that was at that time more than a little rough around the edges.
But the chef has decided that sixteen years is enough, and he's closing Solera in March. Here's the complete letter Sorensen sent to his customers on Friday to announce the decision:
Dear Denver… It is with a happy heart and a clear mind that I would like to announce that, after 16 amazing years, I have inked a deal to sell Solera and will be closing down the restaurant in March, to make way for a new place that will be opening in the spring.
First and foremost, I want to thank all of our very loyal customers that have supported us through these incredible 16 years. I also want to thank my peers, and especially all my chef homies, that have had my back and have made me a better person and a better cook! I also want to thank the people that were there for me through the great times and the difficult ones. Most importantly, I want to thank my brother Seth Sorensen, and my late father Rob Sorensen. Without them, I would never have survived all of the obstacles that were put in front of me. I also want to give a special thanks to Mel Master and Scott Bolling for always being there for me and for helping me, and always steering me in the right direction.
There are so many of you that listened when I need to vent, loaned me money and did things on trade when I was short on cash, washed dishes and helped when things broke, cheered me on at chef events, and came in on cold snowy nights and supported me. I’m truly humbled by all the love and support that lifted me up these past 16 years and for the lessons that I have learned! Cooking at the James Beard House and trips to Napa and Europe I never thought I would get to do those things, but I did and it was awesome! Aspen Food and Wine and all the other summer chef festivals, What a blast! I am truly a very lucky person.
I would also like to thank my past and present employees for always caring and believing in my vision for Solera. I am truly in your debt for all of your patience, hard work and dedication. I Thank you! You are all family!
All the food and wine reps, food critics, repair folks, neighborhood business owners, that I have become friends with and will stay friends with, I thank you too. And to Mae, who has been washing the windows in that space for over 20 years, thanks you for always making my day with your smile and your amazing fashion sense!
I was on my way to cook in NYC when 9/11 happened. Then as my father used to say, I had to “change horses in the middle of the river.” So I came back and opened a restaurant on Colfax, everyone thought I was crazy.
Maybe I was! But now I have so many great stories of floods, bank robberies, hookers in the dining room, power going out in the middle of service, late night soft rock of the '70s nights, kicking ass with my chef brothers and growing up in an amazing time in the Denver restaurant scene, that I can happily look back knowing that every second was worth it. I will cherish these memories for the rest of my life. People have always said that I should write a book, and maybe someday, I will. But for now, it’s time for a much-needed break, lots of fishing, and some quality family time.
A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase the building, and I am very excited for the new restaurant that will be opening soon. The neighborhood will truly love it. Denver is my home. It always will be. It’s so exciting to see all of the new places opening and the new talent that has arrived here.
Looking back, I am proud of what I was able to accomplish; the food, the service, and the experience that I was able to provide to so many people for so many years. The restaurant business is challenging, but the people make it fun and exciting. But as rewarding as the past 16 years have been, it’s time for a new chapter. I will be restoring an old cabin and building a new outhouse this summer, on our family property in Wyoming. Just having that on my to do list, sounds amazing!
I would love to see everyone that has enjoyed drinking and dining with us before we close over the next few weeks and we will be bringing back all of the old favorite menu items and hope to share a glass with all of you! It’s been a wonderful amazing ride Denver and I truly thank all of you from the bottom of my heart and know I will still be around and participating in the many charities that I have become a part of, between fishing trips of course!
Cheers and again, I thank all of you who have shared my vision with me and I wish all of my colleagues well in all of their ventures! Thank you customers, family and friends, thank you employees, and thank you Denver for these last 16 years.
Much Love! G
"The biggest factor is that I own the building," Sorensen notes, so he'll be the landlord for the new restaurant tenant.
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Solera has been a destination for wine lovers (especially on Wednesdays, when happy hour offers tasting flights and small plates for a great price) and neighbors seeking quality food in an inviting space, with a tree-shaded patio that has been among the best outdoor dining areas in Denver for years. The restaurant was the Westword readers' choice for Best Restaurant on Colfax last year and has won several other Best of Denver awards over the years.
You can still grab dinner and drinks at Solera — and raise a toast to Sorensen's next adventure — for the next few weeks, until it closes on Saturday, March 31 — "and then I'll throw a wing-dinger of a party that Sunday the First [of April]," Sorensen adds.
For now, the restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m. Call 303-388-8429 or visit Solera's website for details and reservations.
This story was updated at 11 a.m. on February 19, 2018.