Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Business Review August 2006.
Mike Bolen Fine Art
By Craig Smith
Mike Bolen, owner of Mike Bolen Fine Art at 1000 Main Street, first came to Napa Valley two years ago as a tourist. Like many others, he fell in love with the Valley, and decided he wanted to move here. However, as a husband, father and successful business owner living in St. Louis, it wasn’t as easy as that. He needed to first learn the area thoroughly while still maintaining his life, so he sent a research assistant to Napa Valley to check things out.
“I seem to approach most things as a business decision,” Bolen said, smiling, “It’s my nature. I rented a house on Division Street for six weeks, and sent one of my guys out to check out the Valley thoroughly. He reported back to me everyday. I analyzed all the data and decided hands down to live in Napa and locate my business downtown.”
Bolen’s business savvy has helped make him a successful man. He was selling restaurant furniture and supplies fresh out of college, and one of his clients, the International House of Pancakes (IHOP), had just begun an aggressive expansion campaign. Bolen switched gears and started a business opening IHOPs, offering them everything from site selection to ordering napkins. Over the next four-plus years, he opened 104 IHOPs. He was successful, but Bolen wasn’t completely sure what he wanted to do next. He took a year off and considered construction, development, investments and real estate. He ultimately decided on real estate, and to launch that business in Napa Valley.
Bolen moved to here in August 2005, and started his search in earnest for a business to acquire. Six months later he opened Intero Real Estate Services in an office on First Street, just off of Main. When the space adjoining his became vacant, he recognized a once in a lifetime opportunity. “At First & Main Streets, we’re ensconced at the epicenter of the most central location in downtown Napa,” he said. He knew it was the perfect location to pair two of his greatest passions: art and real estate. On July 1, he opened Mike Bolen Fine Arts (MBFA).
MBFA is unique to downtown, as it is the quintessential Chelsea gallery. The gallery features museum quality artists from New York, considered by many to be the hub of the art world. The studio opened with two world famous artists, Olive Ayhens and Guy Stanley Philoche, whose works are currently on display. Bolen sees MBFA as a compliment to the other galleries in the Valley, offering something extraordinarily.
Bolen and his wife Jody are parents of three children: Maxwell (5), George (4), and Beverly (1). The kids are enrolled at St. John’s Catholic School. Bolden is a member of the Men’s Club there, and was just elected to the school board. He and Jody are extremely social people. “I’ll accept just about any invitation, at least once,” laughed the easygoing Bolen. The two also enjoy an occasional weekend get-away in San Francisco. They moved here thinking they could always move back to St. Louis if they had to. After almost a year here their decision is final – Bolen just put his St. Louis home on the market. They join others who came here for a vacation, and found a personal paradise.
MBFA is open seven days a week, and can be reached at 255-6232 or http://www.MikeBolen.com. The gallery is also available to rent for private affairs.