After more than a year of delay, the long-awaited transformation of the historic Old Sonoma Creamery into a hip and modern bar and restaurant is finally ready for the public.
On Saturday, Burgers & Vine, located at the corner of First Street East and East Napa Street, directly across from the Mission, will commence a soft opening. Partners Carlo Cavallo – owner of Meritage Restaurant and Oyster Bar on West Napa Street – and Codi Binkley, among other things lead singer of the Whiskey Thieves band – will open the doors to reveal a 42-foot redwood bar, six TV screens, including a 126-inch projection unit that virtually covers one wall, a nano-brewery, a wide collection of American whiskey, live music, stand-up comedy, movie nights and a menu strong on burgers and grass-fed beef.
Cavallo said the soft opening would limit meals during the first week to dinner, with lunch added soon after. A selection of signature, gourmet burgers will be augmented, he said, by a custom option with which diners can build their own burgers. There will also be brisket with Beltane Ranch beef, baby back ribs, whole roasted chicken, two kinds of wings and growlers of beer.
The facility’s custom-designed, electric brewing units are licensed to produce two barrels of beer a week, but only for sale on site.
The historic building housing the new restaurant was built in 1926 by Joe Vella, popularly known as the father of Sonoma’s cheese industry. Vella used the basement to store cheese, and ice cream was made and distributed on the ground floor. Cavallo said Burgers & Vine will be selling all Vella cheeses on site, bringing the building, in a creamery sense, full circle. And in keeping with that tradition, he will also be serving ice cream and fresh pies made on site.
Following a variety of uses and owners, the building was closed in 2006. Richard and Mary Ann Sebastiani Cuneo then purchased it and undertook a comprehensive renovation before leasing it to Cavallo and Binkley. But no one anticipated the length of time it would take to reach full compliance with city building codes, and the opening originally planned for January 2013 was delayed a full year.
“The Cuneos were wonderful,” said Cavallo last week. “If it hadn’t been for Dick and Mary Ann, we would never have opened.”
Binkley said entertainment plans call for live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, as well as some afternoons. The restaurant’s permit allows live music from 9 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday, 9 to 11 p.m. on Thursday and 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Comedy nights are also planned, along with movie nights, and Binkley said the array of flat screens will provide ample viewing during sports broadcasts.
The opening is scheduled to take place around 4 p.m. on Saturday, with a full menu rolled out as soon as the staff is ready.