The Dwell Hotel unveils new concept for dining space

The Dwell Hotel unveils new concept for dining space

The Solarium, a cafe and cocktail bar, will open March 7

March 4th, 2018 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Dwell Hotel restaurant and bar manager Nicole Jatho, left, stands beside owner and operator Seija Ojanpera and talks about new concoctions that will be available in the bar at The Solarium. (Staff photo by Tim Barber)

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Dwell Hotel owner and operator Seija Ojanpera feels the texture of the artificial grass on one of the walls in the Rainbow Room. (Staff photo by Tim Barber)

Dwell Hotel owner and operator Seija Ojanpera feels...

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Following a month of renovations, the dining space in the Dwell Hotel is reopening this week with the same retro look that hotel owner Seija Ojanpera brought to the 16-room inn she acquired four years ago.

The Terra Mae Appalachian Bistro that operated on the first floor of the former Stone Fort for the past three years has been remodeled and the menu and name changed to the Solarium.

The new 35-seat, garden-themed restaurant, which officially opens Wednesday, features a colorful decor, botanical touches and floor-to-ceiling windows along with limited outdoor seating to reflect feel of a retro sun room. The Solarium creates a contrast to the 25-seat Matilda Midnight, The Dwell's "starlit" cocktail bar.

"It's a fun, less formal atmosphere where we will offer a number of share-able small plates and unique cocktails that our patrons may enjoy either in the Solarium or in the Matilda Midnight," Ojanpera said. "While the dining options are the same for Matilda Midnight and the Solarium, the two spaces are completely different: guests can choose between The Solarium's bright, cafe-like atmosphere or Matilda's evening-inspired ambiance — no matter the time of day."

The Solarium is being managed by Nicole Jatho and will be open from 7 a.m. to midnight every day. Previously, Terra Mae was open only five nights a week.

A variety of vegan- and vegetarian-friendly options also have been added to the menu and, wherever possible, Ojanpera said the new eatery will try to source ingredients locally. Bakery items such as scones, muffins and toasts will come from Niedlov's Breadworks. Signal Mountain's Mayfly Coffee will be used for drip coffee, and Velo Coffee Roasters will provide espresso, making Matilda Midnight and The Solarium a destination for discerning coffee enthusiasts.

The Solarium will offer breakfast items such as Eggs Benedict and a variety of salads, sandwiches and cafe offerings on small share-able plates for lunch and dinner. Entrees include a sprout and edamame salad with carrot ginger dressing; a mojo pork sandwich on marble rye with arugula and gruyere; and a cauliflower steak, seasoned with porcini dust and served with orzo in a smoky tomato sauce.

Most plates will be priced from $8 to $15 each, and cocktails range in price from $9 to $14, Ojanpera said.

New cocktails play on the night-and-day theme of Matilda Midnight and The Solarium. They include "On the Cusp," a J.W. Kelly whiskey with jalapeno-infused plum wine, Averna, Peychaud's, and orange and angostura bitters; and the "Quite Contrary," a new take on the traditional Bloody Mary.

The Solarium reflects the style that Ojanpera has brought to the 113-year-old hotel building since she acquired the former Stone Fort Inn in 2014.

The luxury boutique hotel includes 16 unique rooms and valet parking at 120 East 10th Street, just across the street from the downtown federal building and less than a block from Chattanooga's City Hall.

"I have a passion for travel, and I make a point to seek out small, designer hotels because they all have something unique to offer — whether it's a cool setting, or a new spin on a favorite cocktail, or a dish I've never tried," Ojanpera said.

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 757-6340