Local foodinistas have been eagerly awaiting the rebirth of Chez Panisse from the ashes of the small but destructive electrical fire the restaurant suffered on March 8. It was initially announced that the restaurant would return by June 10, but now as Eater and the LA Times report, that date has been pushed to the summer solstice, on June 21.
The damage to the 42-year-old restaurant was contained to the front portion of the building, referred to as the "porch" because when Alice Waters and co. took over the building it had been residential, with an open front porch that they then enclosed. The wood-framed porch has been painstakingly rebuilt and shored up with a new two-story steel frame underneath. And the Craftsman-inspired space has been slightly reconfigured and remodeled with the help of the original craftsman and designer who helped Waters back in 1971, Kip Mesirow, who's been living in Vermont in recent years.
The grand reopening event on June 21 will be a benefit for the Edible Schoolyard Project, and like the lavish dinners during the restaurant's 40th anniversary weekend two summers ago, it will be pricey. Dinner downstairs will be $2,500 per person, and in the upstairs café it will be $1,000 per person. The website isn't totally back together yet, but you can reserve for this or a later date by calling 510-843-3811.
As a sidenote, April would have marked the 30th anniversary of the opening of Chez Panisse Café, the upstairs restaurant that's easily one of the coziest and most romantic restaurants in the Bay Area. (It's also, arguably, more responsible than the downstairs restaurant for influencing the broader food scene of the Bay Area for the past two decades, largely because of its accessibility and pure Cal-Med intentions.) Expect them to acknowledge that birthday, perhaps, later on.