K-J taking over Shimo

Wine Pairing at Kendall Jackson Wine Center

A K-J cafe? Jackson Family Wines will take over the former Shimo Modern Steak location in Healdsburg. The 241 Healdsburg Avenue space is slated to become a “culinary cafe” showcasing orchestrated food and wine pairings, a menu of small bites and a curated selection of locally made products including cheeses, breads, charcuterie and chocolate.

This ain’t no stale pretzel and mustard set-up. K-J Executive Chef Justin Wangler has an all-star chef team lined up for the new property that includes Tracey Shepos (cheese) and Robert Nieto (chocolate, pastries). He’ll tap into K-J’s expansive culinary garden, expanding line of house made goodies and network of top purveyors throughout Wine Country. The cafe will also be a retail outlet for a line of grape seed oils, flours and cookies from sister company, WholeVine–a project of JFW chairman Barbara Banke and former Chalk Hill Estate co-owner Peggy Furth to both minimize winery waste (grape seeds, skins) and create a healthy food product.

Wangler has already decamped to the Shimo kitchen, having moved his operations (temporarily) to Healdsburg several weeks ago while the Santa Rosa Wine Center kitchens undergo major upgrades and renovations slated to last through next fall. There’s no word on when the cafe will open yet, but it seems reasonable to expect sometime next year.

A sample cafe menu submitted to city planners includes  Drakes Bay Oysters with Kendall-Jackson verjus mignonette; Liberty Duck rillettes, Potato leek tortas with chardonnay grape seed oil and lemon aioli; Bellwether Farms Carmody Fondue with crostini; red and white fries with cabernet ketchup; WholeVine Grape skin flour pretzel bites, a Devil’s Gulch porchetta sandwich with pickled farm vegetables; Mama Frisschkorn’s caramel corn and lime Madeleines. And we should probably mention they’ll be serving wine with all this food.

Meanwhile, winemaker Pete Seghesio’s proposal for a meat and salumi cafe and store on the site of the former Post Office is cooling its heels for another month. Healdsburg City Planners will consider the “Healdsburg Meat Co.” at its next meeting in July. Sehgesio’s cafe and store also includes–you guessed it–a wood-fired pizza oven and wine tasting by-the-glass wines. In case you’re keeping track, that’s the third wood-fired cafe concept in Healdsburg in the last month.

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, BiteClubEats.com is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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10 Comments

  1. What the heck is a “culinary” cafe? As opposed to what? A “carpentry” cafe?

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  2. I have to agree with Bite Club’s well-crafted reply re Healdsburg’s culinary growth. We used to love stopping at 40 Carats on the square for diner food in the late ’80s, and when Ralph Tingle opened his fabulous Bistro Ralph in that space in ’92, almost 20 years ago exactly, some folks already were complaining, “There goes the neighborhood.” Sonoma County will never become Napa because of its topography and the presence of Santa Rosa whose 168,000 residents help ensure a healthy, diverse county population and a constant infusion of great ethnic food [See Windsor's successful ethnic cafes and watch for the arrival of the new Vietnamese Cafe in Coddingtown.]. The market and the economy, as ever, will dictate how much wood will be burned in how many kitchens and for how long; I’m just glad to be around to help with the research.

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  3. Seriously…enough whining already. As mentioned already, there are a quite a few delicious, medium priced, food options available as well as your over the top stuff. The market will dictate what is sustainable. I live in Healdsburg an LOVE the amount of food options we have in this city, in all price ranges. Tourism dollars are what help sustain Healdsburg as a city. There isn’t another industry that is going to bring the same amount of tax dollars to our small city. Be thankful for what we have. If you want something less “touristy”, Cloverdale is a short drive North.

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    • Dar,

      It’s great that Healdsburg still has all price ranges. Hopefully, it will stay that way.

      Mine was a thoughtful observation, not whining. This board is for all opinions, not just yours.

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  4. The very same thing happened to the Napa Valley. I moved to Yountville in 1980. Domaine Chandon had just opened, the Diner was thriving, Mama Nina’s also very good and the original owners of the French Laundry, so elegant and gracious, were part of the community. You didn’t go to Chandon or French Laundry every night, but there was still a sense of community. Have you been to Yountville lately?

    To me, it’s vapid and ridiculous. Yes, there are some very nice places for the tourists, but what made it such a charming town in the first place is gone. I still know people who live there (with a decent income) and they can barely afford to have dinner in their own town. More importantly, it’s not their town anymore.

    Tourism is an important part of our community, but let’s be more thoughtful and realize balance is far more interesting.

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  5. How many more ‘cafes, small plate menu, charcuterie, wood-fired pizza places’ can possibly exsist in one small town? I have lived in Healdsburg for over 30 years, raised my family here, supported the small shops and still work here. I can’t afford to eat at any of these places. It’s actually getting to be a bit much to see place after place open up that are all similar in style. I know that this comment won’t change anything, but I’m really disillusioned with the Healdsburg Planning Commission at this time.

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    • I totally agree with Cindy. Having lived in Healdsburg for 28+ years, I have been happy to see the town up their game, food wise, but the pendulum has swung way too far. Locals are here year round to support our town merchants, but if they continue like this, catering to tourists, what will happen when winter comes?? Can we not find some balance so that everyone can find a decent eatery with locally produced products that doesn’t require spending way more than any of us should spend???

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      • The market finds the balance on it’s own. It it becomes saturated, some will close. No need to fret, having great restaurants is a good thing! You could be living in a city struggling to survive or near collapse, like Stockton.

    • I get it, but I also don’t. I hear a lot of folks complain that much of Sonoma County is getting to expensive for people who actually live here. That can be true, but I also see that having higher-end destination-worthy places brings in tourism, increases property values and creates jobs and opportunities for small businesses. I also feel like people get overly sensitive about some of the restaurant prices. Yes, no one is suggesting any of us can afford to eat at Dry Creek Kitchen or Cyrus every night. But most of the cafes are in line with mid-priced cafes elsewhere around the county and in line with the chains. Food is getting more expensive in general. I am not suggesting that there aren’t some ridiculous prices for things around the square (mostly aimed at tourists) but when I’m just being a “local” (ie: not eating for work) I love Healdsburger, the farm market, the Wurst, HBG, the taquerias, Big John’s and in a pinch, Safeway. I do feel like maybe we are hitting a saturation point with the charcuterie/wood-fired thing and tasting rooms in Hburg. but the market will decide what people want. What impresses me about someone like Justin at K-J is that he is a local and pushes really hard to use and popularize local products. That creates a demand for produce and products from our region. That’s a good thing for all of us.

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