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Sonoma Plaza to welcome new 64-seat restaurant in late fall

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One of the last wine companies to be granted a license to open a tasting room in Sonoma has pivoted – and plans instead to open a restaurant and specialty market on its Plaza site, albeit with a wine lounge and spirits tasting room tucked within.

The Taub Family Outpost has submitted paperwork to the City of Sonoma Planning Commission to open a restaurant at the corner of First Street West and West Napa Street.

The two-story white stucco building sits on a small 2,511-square-foot lot owned by Linda Detert. Prior to the Taub tenancy, the bottom story of the building was occupied by Sonoma Home and the top story was most recently the temporary home of the Index-Tribune.

The New York-based Taub Family Companies launched its first California wine label under the Taub Family Vineyards name five years ago.

The Taubs signed their lease in 2016 and were initially planning to open a tasting room. They were exempted from the City’s current moratorium on new tasting rooms because their tasting room renovations were already in the works last year when the city council enacted the moratorium.

According to project manager Jared Clevenger, however, they have now evolved their business concept. They are now seeking approval of a use permit to operate a restaurant, wine lounge, packaged goods market, spirits and cocktails tasting bar on the site. A total of 64 seats, including 26 on the first floor and 38 on the second floor are proposed.

“The Outpost aims to be a favorite local hub in downtown Sonoma, with something to offer everyone,” according to the planning documents, currently online on the City of Sonoma website. “The restaurant will encompass the heart and soul of Sonoma County, partnering with local farms and producers to offer seasonal menus that don’t break the bank.”

Clevenger expects the restaurant to offer a seasonal, “farm to table” menu.

Clevenger added that their goal is to change the energy of that corner of the Plaza.

“We want it to be a focal point… a beacon and open longer hours than its neighbors,” he said.

The Outpost will offer dine-in meal service from breakfast starting at 8 a.m. through a late-evening menu, ending at 10 p.m, with a proposed midnight close for special events or on high-season weekends. Beginning at 10:30 a.m., there will be wine and spirits tastings with a focus on California, Sonoma, and imports from the Taub family portfolio.

The retail market would offer specialty products, as well as pre-packaged sandwiches, salads and pastas for eat in or take out. The Taubs estimate hiring “a local team,” 10 of whom would be onsite at any time.

“We’ll have our retail downstairs and space to hang out upstairs,” said Clevenger. “We want to showcase local products and ours alongside them.”

The project is scheduled to come before the Sonoma Planning Commission on May 24. The accompanying staff report says that the proposed use of the building is consistent with the General Plan; the project’s size, design and operating characteristics are compatible with the land use of the site; and the proposal does not impair the architectural integrity and character of its zoning district.

The building has a long history. Jacob Leese purchased the lot from the City of Sonoma in 1848, according to local historian Alice Duffee. Through the late 19th century, a one-story wood frame general store occupied the site. Peter Yenni subdivided the lot, built the current building and sold it to Fred Bulotti in 1912. Valley National Bank purchased the building in 1923 and the ground floor housed an array of banks for the next 40 years. The Hy-Lond Corporation purchased it in 1967 and it underwent a series of renovations to its current design. According to Duffee, the property does not qualify as a “historic resource” because of those extensive renovations.

Work on the 4,914-square-foot building is already well underway. The project team is doing a full remodel to both floors as well as minor modifications to the exterior of the 100-year-old building.

If approved, the Taub Family Outpost could open as early as fall 2018.

Email lorna @lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.