Valley Bar + Bottle Shop to take over Delicious Dish location

It will reopen “in a similar format to how Delicious Dish has been serving our community, primarily as a lunchtime place with seasonal American food.”|

Despite recent great success, Delicious Dish on Arnold Drive will close after dinner service on Wednesday, Dec. 14.

Many restaurants are threading a tiny needle to balance costs of food and other supplies, utilities, rent increases and a shortage of labor.

After winning multiple “People’s Choice” awards voted by Index-Tribune readers, Business of the Year from the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, and a rave review from Heather Irwin of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and Sonoma Magazine, Delicious Dish has been inundated with new customers and fans. Co-owner and Executive Chef Lauren Cotner secured additional parking to accommodate the crowd. She also invested in the kitchen, remodeled the restrooms and patio, rehabbed an old coffee truck, and thought up popular events such as movie nights with meals themed to each film.

Cotner always helped and donated at school events and even made her daughter’s Girl Scout cookies available to customers at a table out front. And she stocked some of the finest regional goods including Straus ice cream, Model Bakery English muffins and Costeaux French Bakery breads.

Having opened to serve lunch and then weeknight dinners to go, the business model was one of many disrupted by the pandemic. Meanwhile, many restaurants have struggled with a lack of skilled help, which is a problem across the whole Bay Area.

A succession of hopefuls have tried to start restaurants at that location. When we arrived here 40-ish years ago, it was the very popular Bill’s Drive-In, which really wasn’t a “drive-in” in the sense of gum-chewing waitresses on roller skates. But it was a reliable must-stop. Everyone who followed tried to make their own improvements to the old building to make it presentable.

Rob’s Rib Shack featured barbecued ribs and chicken (Rob now has the popular Il Fuoco in the Springs). The Filling Station followed along with others, but when Cotner moved back to Sonoma and opened Delicious Dish, with her, and it, came a certain urban approach.

Valley Bar + Bottle Shop, which just won its second Michelin Guide “Bib Gourmand” designation, is next up to bat for the location. Tanner Walle, Emma Lipp, Lauren Feldman and Stephanie Reagor try to include organic, biodynamic and regenerative local foods and wines on their menu. They have made the best of their location on First Street West in Sonoma, which they acquired when Jen and Nick Demarest decided 13 years of their award-winning Harvest Moon Café was enough. The Demarests now have Baker & Cook.

Lipp told the Index-Tribune in an email that “We have enjoyed frequenting (Delicious Dish) as guests. We all live right by the space, so we truly view it as a special neighborhood spot.”

She and partners plan to reopen the space in late winter “in a similar format to how Delicious Dish has been serving our community, primarily as a lunchtime place with seasonal American food.”

According to the email sent out Sunday by Charles and Lauren Cotner of Delicious Dish, their staff “has been offered options (with notice) including the opportunity to transition with the new owners…”

The Cotners also state that they have started “the process of gift card refunds for those who need them early in 2023,” while “auction item wins” will be “honored for catering and events should you choose.”

Delicious Dish was one of Microsoft’s regular caterers in San Francisco. During the pandemic Microsoft continued to pay her what she would have received as long as the food went to people in need.

This week’s final “Dinners Out-the Door” included tuna noodle casserole, chicken Marbella and Puerto Rican specialties.

After Wednesday’s dinners, Delicious Dish will donate cases of spices, condiments, produce, pasta, dried beans and paper products to Sonoma Overnight Support (SOS) and might turn up helping in the kitchen.

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