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New restaurant, grocer and caterer moving into Skyhawk Village

Author: | posted 07/19/13 | Print This Post Print This Post |
Amy and Chris Ludwick of Grapevine Catering winners of Harvest Fair professional food competition. PD File / Jeff Kan Lee

Amy and Chris Ludwick of Grapevine Catering winners of Harvest Fair professional food competition. PD File / Jeff Kan Lee

A local catering company with plans for a restaurant and specialty food store have taken over the former Fresh! by Lisa Hemenway in Skyhawk Village. 

Sound familiar? It is, and it isn’t, according to Grapevine Catering co-owner Amy Ludwick, who moved her 11-year-old company into the space this week. The cavernous 7,800 square-foot property has been subdivided into several smaller spaces, including a 3,500 square-foot catering kitchen for her growing catering biz, a commissary kitchen which will be rented out to start up food purveyors, a casual restaurant space and retail store. 

“Think Oakville Grocery or Dean and Deluca,” said Ludwick.

Ludwick and husband, Christopher (who is the operation’s executive chef), relocated their business from West County due to space constrains and increasing demand from wedding and winery clients. “We’ve been growing 15 to 20 percent each year,” said Amy, noting that the existing business will help fund the new ventures.

The forthcoming restaurant, Earth’s Bounty Kitchen and Winebar is slated to open this fall-the first of their public ventures. “It’s a farm-to-table concept,” she said, focused on wood-fired dishes utilizing the existing oven and family-friendly fare. The retail store, anticipated for later in the fall, will focus on the couple’s line of Earth’s Bounty jams, sauces and nuts, along with small-batch artisan foods and other products inspired by Wine Country.

Offering commercial kitchen space for fledgling producers, however, remains close to the couple’s heart. “In the North Bay, it’s hard to find a good commissary ktichen that isn’t packed to the gills with other people,” said Ludwick. “We want to give back,” she said. Their first tenant will be Alexis Clark of True Love Cheesecakes, with plans for several more specialty producers to sign onto their lease. “We are definitely looking for small batch producers that are just getting started and need a shared kitchen to launch their new concept,” she said.

22 Responses

  1. Don Prial September 4, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Always enjoy your interaction with readers, Heather, and hope the new enterprise will prove be that better mousetrap for folks seeking another food option around Skyhawk. Speaking of better mousetraps, have you been to Sweet T’s on Stagecoach lately? The place is packed and the food is excellent. Kid friendly too; how many times does one find that combo around Sonoma County. Keep up the good work.

    • Heather September 4, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

      I need to go back. It wasn’t awesome the first few times I webt

  2. Joe August 23, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    Please bring back Shobu Sushi.

    • Valerie September 1, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

      YES! Bring back Shobu Sushi!!!!!!!!

  3. Melissa July 23, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    Sounds great. Best of luck. One point of great interest and possible help might be checking out the amazing success of the Oakmont Deli. Been here for years offering daily fresh meals, soups, sandwiches, etc. Bicyclists stop in daily, outside tables and chairs, great coffee and desserts/snacks. Come see what their secret is…..

  4. matt July 20, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    I would like to recommend a budget priced (4 dollars or under) poor boy sandwich. This will get me in there to buy lunch, and I will probably buy coffee and water (crystal geyser, arrowhead is gross). too.
    Brad Pipal is one sock short of a pair I think

    • heather July 20, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

      That’s a nice idea, but i mean…if Subway can’t make a decent sandwich for $4 is that a realistic expectation?

      Sometimes folks fail to realize the true cost of food. Not only does that include the actual costs of perishable inventory, but the price of rent in Sonoma County, the strict state/county/city permitting requirements and what can amount to $100,000 or more to be compliant with accessibility issues. I mean, just for a start. That doesn’t include salaries, insurance, and a million other things.

      I’m not saying every sandwich needs to cost $12, but a $4 sandwich wouldn’t be profitable for most restaurants. They’d be losing money.

      And yes, we’ve been Pipal-ed. If you spend anytime on the PD, you’ll see he’s, uh, prolific.

  5. Jeff2 July 20, 2013 at 7:45 am #

    Thats almost exactly what Fresh was in the same spot. It failed.

    • johng July 20, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Did you read the piece? Half of the space will be used for a catering kitchen, and there will also be kitchen space for rent. The revenue stream from those may allow the new tenants to build their restaurant and take-out business slowly, which is a good thing. As Skyhawk Market found out, the doctors’ wives who live in the neighborhood are reluctant to pay more for a six-pack of Diet Coke than they pay at Safeway, and their kids are so used to eating Red Baron and/or RoundTable that they can’t handle a properly cooked pizza from a wood-fired oven.

      • heather July 20, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

        Silly man. Why read the article when they can shake their angry fists into the void?

        I asked Amy very pointedly why they think this concept will work when two others haven’t. It is a tough spot, granted. But yeah, that’s why they subdivided the space. Their catering operation will cover the rent (according to what she told me). The “specialty” sauces, etc. are something they’ve worked really hard to develop and they would like to have a small retail space to sell them. They’re also offering opportunities for other small businesses to grow, which I find noble.

        Why anyone would degrade someone attempting to open a business in Santa Rosa before they’ve opened (and frankly with so little information about the actual business plan) reflects the commenters’ own issues.

        Maybe the new business will succeed. Maybe it will fail. I just know I plan to be supportive of enterprising food businesses in the county, because that is what makes Sonoma County the place I love to live.

        • Pandora August 29, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

          “Pipal, Pipal who need Pipal….”

  6. brad pipal July 20, 2013 at 5:10 am #

    Think inaccessible location for many drivers due to high volume Hwy. 112……Only a cloverleaf roadway will improve this address……And three recent failures show history of new moves of high end business that require severe foot traffic…..Fountaingrove and loss of Traverso’s Deli from proven downtown site…..This high speed Hwy. 12 location from Hell is rejected by drivers with common sense…..

    • johng July 20, 2013 at 9:21 am #

      Cloverleaf roadway? ROTFLMAO. BTW, learn…. to ….. punctuate… or… make…. more….. sense….

    • Western Union July 23, 2013 at 7:53 am #

      Brad….we here at Western Union….want to thank you for keeping up the gold standard of ending a thought ….with multiple periods as we did in the old days with telegrams …..by the way….Daisy had puppies …..Ethyl sends her love …hopefully soon the Great War will end and your father can afford to send you back to school to learn how to get the words from inside your head to the outside world …..

  7. Phil B July 19, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

    I have had Grapevine Catering before. uhhhh enjoy Rincon Valley lol

  8. Hungry Bird July 19, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    I like you, Heather.

    • heather July 20, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

      Me likey the Hungry Bird!

  9. mtones July 19, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    I hear ya Jeff! And ya we can wait and see what is on the menu, but just as I said when Fresh! closed: why do these people keep overlooking the fact that they on smack on the feel of a FAMILY neighborhood??? As in, not everyone wants to go down the hill to the poor pickings at Safeway or further down the hill to better quality Oliver’s to shop. It would be nice is for ONCE there was some balance to what this location offered so people nearby actually have a viable, affordable good quality alternative in the neighborhood… Indeed we will wait and see but as is, all “specialty” says is “high price to me.

  10. Jeff July 19, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    Thank gawd. I was wondering where I was gonna have to go to get a $12.00 sandwich.

    • biteclub July 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

      Maybe it would be prudent to give them a chance to make up a menu and, I don’t know, open before criticizing the menu. Just a thought.

    • matt July 19, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

      I like you Jeff

  11. Janet July 19, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Congratulations! I hope you have great success:) I think the commercial kitchen is a great idea!

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