Solo Bistro, a fine-dining restaurant in downtown Bath, will serve its last meal Sept. 2 after 12 years in business.

“We’re ready to move on,” said Will Neilson, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Pia.

The Neilsons are selling both the restaurant and the building it’s in on Front Street. The building is listed for $825,000.

Neilson, a corporate lawyer-turned-restaurateur, said the property has been on the market only 10 days and he already has a lot of interest, including potential buyers from New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

The Neilsons moved to Maine from New York in 2000 and bought an investment property on Front Street. The building already had a restaurant, but it failed about a year later. The couple thought Bath had room for a high-end restaurant, and sought one in their building to add value to their investment. They spent a year trying to persuade someone to open another restaurant there, with no luck.

In June 2005, they opened their own, although neither had any restaurant experience.

“We said, ‘How hard can it be?’ ” Neilson recalled, “and we had a chance to find out. It was pretty hard.”

Solo Bistro serves a contemporary menu of small and large plates, using local, organic ingredients and serving such dishes as fisherman’s stew and lamb ragout. Neilson said now that Bath “seems to be blossoming a little bit with restaurants” – Salt Pine Social just down the street from Solo Bistro is the latest – it seemed a good time to move on.

“What that means for us is the winters become more difficult to survive with more competition, but at the same time, because those other places are opening, Bath is becoming a more attractive place to live and invest. So it’s a good moment for us to cash in our investment, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Another factor: The Neilsons live in Arrowsic and just saw their youngest child graduate from college, so they are now empty-nesters. Neilson said he’s likely to continue his involvement in local politics – he ran unsuccessfully for the state Legislature last year – but he wants to start taking it easy.

“I’d be happy to be done with the building and the restaurant,” he said, “and retire to my house and bake bread and eat with my wife and friends.”

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MeredithGoad

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