With the old blue and maroon tile stripped off the front and a new entrance under construction, the former Fagiani’s bar in downtown Napa is embracing its earliest history and it prepares to compete in the 21st century.
For several months workers have been renovating the inside of the Main Street landmark. Now the exterior at 813 Main St. is being transformed.
A more authentic look – and a design with more light, air and connection to a now-thriving downtown – is needed to give a future restaurant a fighting chance, a project spokesman said in 2017. In recent years, two restaurants had failed at this location, in part because the street facade hid what was within, he argued.
“We feel privileged to own the building and it’s been a delight to bring it back to life,” said Jim Blumling, vice president of operations for Copper Cane Wines and Provisions.
Joe Wagner, member of a longtime Napa wine family and the owner of Copper Cane Wines and Provisions, bought the Main Street building from previous owner Steve Hasty for $3.7 million in February 2016.
Fagiani’s operated as a bar from the 1940s until the mid-70s. It closed soon after its co-owner, Anita Andrews, was found murdered inside.
The long-dormant storefront finally reopened in August 2012 as The Thomas restaurant, with a bar named Fagiani’s at The Thomas.
AvroKO, the hospitality group, closed The Thomas and replaced it with a new eatery, Ninebark. Ninebark, too, was short-lived, closing in July 2016.
Since then, Wagner received permission from the city to remove the old tile frontage, which was an artifact of the 1940s, and take the building back to what it looked like in the early 1900s.
The building will again become a restaurant, said Blumling, but he’s not ready announce the restaurant name or style yet.
“We’ve been working this project for a good portion of last year,” he said. “We did a complete remodel. We’ve redesigned the place top to bottom; first floor all the way up to the third floor.”
Wagner is designing “something that he feels makes sense for the space. And to deliver something interesting for the Napa Valley,” Blumling said in a phone interview.
“There’s lots of work to still do,” he said, but it should be completed “well before BottleRock,” which runs May 24–26.
“It’s got a great location and a cool vibe,” Bumling said of the building. With the downtown location and the river views, “we really have high expectations that it’s going to do great.”
Wagner’s back-to-the-past makeover required a certificate of appropriateness from the city because of the building’s historic significance. The city had previously resisted removing the tile cladding and taking the facade back to its original form.
Meanwhile, as the work at 813 Main St. continues, the city has blocked off that section of Main Street to widen the sidewalks and level the roadway.