The Parasole story
Parasole Restaurant Holdings was founded in 1977 by Twin Cities entrepreneurs Phil Roberts and Pete Mihajlov. A third partner, long-time business associate and investor Kevin Kuester, joined the team in 2003.
Together they oversee operation of Parasole Restaurant Holdings, the Parasole Bakery, and idein, llc, a consulting service for restaurant and retail clients nationwide.
Few companies in the restaurant industry can match Parasole’s record of innovation and long-term, multi-concept success. And fewer still were founded almost on a lark.
As a commercial designer in the 1970’s, Phil Roberts traveled extensively and ate at many of America’s top restaurants. One thing he noticed: Minnesota had none of them.
The idea: a small European-style bistro
The university neighborhood was quaint. And the landlord was hungry. Six months later, Phil and Pete opened Muffuletta and gave it the tagline, “Just Different Enough.”
A menu highlighted by Quiche Lorraine, Fettucine Alfredo and chicken salad in a hollowed-out pineapple won raves, even if the restaurant’s namesake sandwich, with its Italian cold cuts and marinated olives, was a little spicy.
One restaurant was enough*
The partners formed Parasole with the intention of owning and operating a single restaurant. The residents of St. Anthony Park in St. Paul embraced it, and Minneapolitans even crossed the Mississippi to try it.
Within a few years, however, Phil was hankering for more – and Twin Cities diners remained woefully underserved.
"In 1981, Roberts opened Pronto Ristorante, a sleek, trend-forward Northern Italian restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. Figlio followed in 1985 and was promptly named one of America’s Top Ten bistros by Metropolitan Home magazine. A few years later, Parasole took over the Good Earth restaurants in Edina and Roseville, Minnesota. And a year after that, Manny’s Steakhouse debuted in downtown Minneapolis, winning local and national raves.
Turned off by cookie-cutter chain restaurants, in 1993 Phil created the “unchained chain” restaurant: Buca Little Italy, serving family-style southern Italian cuisine in an environment that looted its décor from Italian immigrants’ basements. Five years later, after it had become a bona fide national phenomenon, Parasole spun it off and Buca became Buca di Beppo, a publicly traded company with its own management structure. Around the same time, Phil created the Oceanaire Seafood Room, the nation’s first “power seafood” concept. Parasole spun that off as well, and today Oceanaire and Buca di Beppo are separate entities from their former parent company.
New century, new directions
Chino Latino was Parasole’s millennial baby – born in 2000 and destined to become one of the Twin Cities’ top-grossing restaurants. Five years later, Phil and Parasole’s team of creative and operational partners he dubbed his “kitchen table” created Salut Bar-Américain in Edina, Minnesota, followed by Pittsburgh Blue Steakhouse in Maple Grove, Minnesota.
At the same time Parasole was developing new concepts for itself, the company tapped into its deep well of talent and began offering consulting services to clients nationwide under the auspices of Idein Consulting.
The momentum has only increased
In 2008, Parasole Restaurant Holdings welcomed guests to a second Salut location in St. Paul; brought Manny’s Steakhouse to the W Minneapolis–The Foshay; and also opened the hotel’s Living Room and Prohibition lounges. Burger Jones restaurant made its debut in May, 2009.
Some thirty years after its founding, Parasole has become one of the nation’s premier restaurant concept generators, operators and developers. The “kitchen table” is larger than ever, the team’s appetite for innovation is keener than ever, and Parasole’s reputation for creating and operating restaurants with enduring appeal grows stronger by the day.
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Parasole Restaurant Holdings
5032 France Avenue South
Edina, MN 55410
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