MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – One of the most notable restaurants in Minnesota is closing. La Belle Vie executive chef and owner Tim McKee announced Thursday he will close the restaurant after nearly 18 years in operation.

“I had the best food experiences of my life at La Belle Vie,” said food critic Jason DeRusha.

It’s the sort of restaurant where people make and hold onto memories.

“I made a lot of friends there, I met my wife there,” said Monello and Constantine Executive Chef Mike DeCamp.

In two weeks, staff will serve its last supper at the fine-dining icon in Minneapolis.

“We were surprised,” said Doug Martin from Minneapolis. “We made the reservation a week ago, and I’m glad we did. I’m sure it will be tough to get in.”

Chef and owner Tim McKee expressed deep sadness in a phone interview, and he wasn’t alone.

“When you close a restaurant it’s the worst,” DeRusha said. “It’s personal. It hurts. There are so many things that are going on that it’s impossible to finger one factor why a place closes.”

McKee told Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl of MSP Magazine that many factors contributed to the decision to close, including an increase in minimum wage and fewer customers coming through the door.

“It’s never the people’s fault that a restaurant shuts down,” DeRusha said. “It’s a business. If you’re not providing what the people want, it will shut down.”

Social media was buzzing with reaction to the closing of an institution and a breeding ground for some of Minnesota’s top chefs.

“We all owe a lot of thanks to Tim and to La Belle Vie just for being and teaching us all,” DeCamp said.

Before it closes its doors, there are sure to be many flocking to the French restaurant to make one last memory.

“Maybe it’s just that after 18 years of this premiere, incredible dining experience, it was over,” DeRusha said. “It’s over.”

La Belle Vie is located near Loring Park in Minneapolis and will close Oct. 24.

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