Frenchie Picnics and Provisions opens wide
Co-owners and chefs Sarah Pinkin and Liz Payne opened their Frenchie Picnics and Provisions last weekend after the usual permit delays, but are we ever glad we waited. Pinkin was executive chef at Murphy’s Irish Pub and Payne was executive chef at Williams-Sonoma’s Sonoma store before they each took time out to have a flock of children.
Run right in for all sorts of healthy food, and don’t let that scare you. Choose among lunch and dinner sized containers loaded with salmon Niçoise or chicken salad with kale and avocado, Vietnamese noodle bowls, charcuterie trays, sushi, apples, cheese sticks, PB&J sandwiches for kids of all ages, and the closest thing to a real French baguette sandwich (mine included good ham, brie, Dijon mustard and salted butter – although the butter wouldn’t be salted in France). ($10 to $15.)
Find lots of regional food products including Girl & the Fig chutneys, June Tayler conserves, cookbooks from State Bird Provisions and others, Clif Family nuts, and French imports to come. Love the old bikes.
But there is one problem – guests are not allowed to sit down. A friend and I sat on a bench (part of a table set Pinkin and Payne purchased at Sonoma Country Antiques) just to chat for a second and Payne had to tell us we could not sit at all because they don’t have any parking spaces.
Readers have asked about a restaurant going in at the corner of First St. West and West Napa, which also does not have any parking spaces. While there is precedent for food sales at the Frenchie location, there is no precedent for food service at the would-be restaurant location.
When the Frenchie location was Shone’s Market, the last men to own it had picnic tables with benches inside and it was our kids’ favorite place for sandwiches at the time.
Besides, the yogurt shop on one side of Frenchie has tables and chairs inside and out, and Bump Wine Cellars has sofas and comfortable chairs inside.
So why not a permit for a few stools and tables and chairs for people to eat their salads and sandwiches at Frenchie?
A call to Sonoma Planning Director David Goodison helped explain. The proposed corner restaurant gets a “parking credit” because it “fronts on the Plaza.” Tasting rooms have different permits with restricted food service and therefore don’t need parking places. Goodison was unaware of a computer-generated sign posted on a pole in the driveway beside the yogurt shop saying those spaces were for customers. A yogurt staff person said, “We do not rent those spaces,” and hung up.
Possible positive resolution: Planning Director Goodison suggested that Payne and Pinkin come in to see him and file a use permit to have some seating, which would be welcomed by them and loving local customers alike.
Tips Roadside opens officially this weekend
Most locals are aware of the Tips Tri-Tips Trolley, which we watched being built out adjacently to Scooteria in front of Safeway on West Napa Street.
It was a slow and painstaking process of converting an old trolley car to a kitchen on wheels.
The conversion of what was last the Vineyards Inn and one-time a “filling station” was just as slow and painstaking.