French Laundry will close temporarily for expansion

Thomas Keller plans pop-up eatery
2014-04-07T17:09:00Z 2014-04-08T15:20:35Z French Laundry will close temporarily for expansionL. PIERCE CARSON Napa Valley Register
April 07, 2014 5:09 pm  • 

Thomas Keller’s iconic Yountville restaurant, the French Laundry, is planning to close down during a renovation, but the chef is working on a deal to set up elsewhere on a temporary basis.

As part of his 20th anniversary celebration, chef/restaurateur Keller is planning major renovations at the world-famous French Laundry. In order to facilitate his planned remodel, Keller will temporarily close his Yountville dining room for an undetermined period, likely later this year.

Keller is negotiating with management of Silverado Resort and Spa to open a “pop-up” restaurant in the space that has housed the Royal Oak Restaurant for decades, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Details are scarce since involved parties aren’t saying much at the moment about the upcoming modifications.

David Ciabattari, CFO for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, issued a statement Monday night. “Until our plans are completed and approved by the Town of Yountville and the various other regulatory agencies, we cannot finalize a construction schedule.”

This project is part of a planned property redrawing and expansion approved by the Yountville Town Council in mid-February.

Yountville Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Saucerman said she had been warned that the restaurant could be closed up to five months during the work.

“I knew it would be closed down for a little bit, and it might impact us a little bit” in terms of tourism, she said.

But because the wait times for reservations at the French Laundry are so long, relatively few tourists arrive in town without a reservation in hand. That means few people should be caught by surprise by the closure or deterred from visiting Yountville.

“A lot of people just want to know where it is, to see it, to get their pictures taken in front,” she said.

The changes to Keller’s Yountville property include the rezoning to commercial of a 7,738-square-foot lot on Washington Street that abuts the restaurant, occupied by two small single-family homes.

Thomas Keller Restaurant Group intends to remove at least one of the houses to make room for an expanded kitchen and garden, new office space and a rearranged parking lot. The dining room’s 62-seat capacity would not change.

Town officials said the expansion plan would involve demolishing a detached office, storage and restroom buildings outside the existing restaurant at 6640 Washington St. Replacements would be built on the current home site, requiring the razing of one and likely both houses, according to planning director Sandra Smith.

This story has been updated with information from the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group. The original posting incorrectly stated that the closure dates for The French Laundry had been determined.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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