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Washington Avenue small plates and salsa restaurant closes with plans for new concept

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Solea Cafe Houston exterior night with neon sign
Solea promised to bring a mix of small plates and salsa to the Washington Corridor, but it never quite jelled. Now the owners are reconcepting. Solea/Facebook
Solea Cafe Houston interior with candles and artwork
Despite an interior pitched to be a spot for celebrations, Solea couldn't attract enough diners to sample its Latin/Middle Eastern fusion cuisne. Solea/Facebook
Solea Cafe Houston exterior night with neon sign
Solea Cafe Houston interior with candles and artwork

Solea announced on Facebook Monday night that it is closing to change its concept. When it opened 14 months ago, the restaurant intended to bring a more adult vibe to the Washington Avenue scene by mixing sharable plates, wines by the glass and live music. While Washington is certainly changing as the party scene shifts to Midtown, Solea never quite come together in a way that resonated with diners.  

The restaurant's farewell message gives a hint to its problems:

We have decided to redirect our path. The Solea brand has been a great experience for us here at 1500 Shepherd. We want to thank all of you, our loyal customers, for giving us
the opportunity to serve you. After this break we are planning to come back bigger and stronger with a new name and new image. We are raising our standard for customer service and our quality of food. We will keep you posted on all of the changes and we look forward to serving you very soon.

In other words, the owners plan to change the name, the menu and the service style. About the only thing that's likely to be true when Solea reopens is that a restaurant will still occupy the space at 1500 Shepherd Dr. 

The message implied by the Facebook post matches what CultureMap found in a review last year. The menu had dishes with Cajun, Middle Eastern and Latin influences. Not surprisingly, none of it was particularly good.  In a city where the best restaurants typically reflect either the chef or owner's very specific interests, a muddled concept probably isn't going to work. 

In the meantime, hopefully co-owner Amin Safari can find a new outlet for his flamenco guitar playing. That was always worth seeing.  

Any thoughts about what should replace Solea? Sound off in the comments. 

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