I wasn't here when Metropolitan opened, 16 years ago.

I am very sorry I'll be here when it closes.

Managing partner Karen Olsen told me today at Taste of the Nation that she will be shuttering her downtown restaurant in a week.

"We've been working on a major remodel," she said. "We have the blueprints and everything. But I kept feeling that this wasn't the kind of personal change I wanted and needed. It was all just a new coat of paint."

Instead, Karen decided to leave the restaurant business altogether, although she will stay in Salt Lake City.

When it opened in 1995, Metropolitan was a groundbreaking restaurant in Utah. And from its design to its ever-changing menu, it has continued to be the most forward restaurant on the scene, always first to try new things and more attuned to the national and international culinary scene than other Utah restaurants.

Metropolitan's changing nature has never changed; it has never settled into a dowdy middle age like most initially exciting restaurants do. Karen's love of gastronomy and Metropolitan's exciting approach to food and service will be hugely missed.

But even more, the food community in Salt Lake will miss Karen Olsen's positive energy, galvanizing spirit and constant effort to make this a great food town. "She is a great community citizen," said Jason Mathis, director of Downtown Alliance. "She practically started Dine O Round, Salt Lake's hugely popular downtown dining event. She had seen things like it in other cities and kept saying Salt Lake needed an event like that."

Virtual Sommelier owner James Santangelo, who started working at Metropolitan shortly after it opened, has remained a friend and supporter of the restaurant ever since, recently serving as its weekend bar manager. (Santangelo is now beverage director for Copper Onion, another independently owned downtown restaurant.)

Like others up at Solitude this afternoon, he seems slightly stunned by the news. "There's still nothing else quite like it," he said.

There isn't. So stop by this week to have a farewell nosh and lift a glass to one of Salt Lake's dining pioneers and most gracious ladies.

Thanks, Karen.