Two new wine bars opening in the next couple months hope to revive San Anselmo nightlife.
The aptly-named Lincoln Park off of Lincoln Park on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard will open first, aiming for the beginning or middle of April. But, La Loggia will follow swiftly on its heels at the end of May, after having to get a new use permit for its San Anselmo Avenue location in .
“I think there is room for more than one wine bar,” said Colm Glass.
Both the wine bars will focus on local varieties and plates and hope to offer a casual atmosphere. Both also hope to help make downtown somewhere you can pop over and have a drink with friends. But, both have different ideas about how they’re going to get there.
Lincoln Park, (previously Fork), is headed up by Fairfax residents Jennifer Ashby-Simmons, Stephen Simmons and Holly Bragman.
Simmons, the much-beloved local chef who owned Bubba’s and previously was chef at the Lark Creek Inn, hasn’t been cooking for the public since he started as . His return to Ross Valley will be part of the centerpiece of the new wine bar.
“People have been asking for 12 or 13 years, where can we find you?” said Ashby-Simmons of her husband, Stephen.
The wine bar will be 50-50 food and drink, with the expected cheese plates and olives – but with a twist – and an array of other plates depending on the season, availability of food and Simmons’ mood. There will be a half-dozen set items, said Simmons, and a half-dozen or so that change daily or weekly. And, the idea is to have everything be affordable in the $6-12 range.
“We want to have a lot of fun with it,” said Simmons.
They also want to keep it very local. Residents will be able to bring in excess from their garden in exchange for food credit – as long as it’s pesticide-free. And, local hobby vineyards might find a place where they can showcase their wines.
Ashby-Simmons, who has worked in bars and nightclubs for over two decades, is one of the owners of the Nickel Rose in San Rafael. Simmons and she began looking at different locations where they might combine their efforts, but settled on the Dream Farm building when they were actually heading to look at something else.
At that point, Bragman, who heads up the Fairfax Volunteers and a number of community efforts in Fairfax, became involved.
Bragman’s family has been making wine as the Watkins Family Winery in Sonoma since she was 12-years-old and the three of them have known each other as their kids grew up together. She seemed like the natural fit as wine director for the bar.
There will be 20-25 wines available, primarily local and boutique. Each month will also focus on a country with a number of wines from that region. There were also be some beer and “really good soda” available, said Ashby-Simmons.
Since Dream Farm already was a restaurant that served drinks, the trio didn’t have to get a new permit for the building and most of the construction is cosmetic on the inside, so they hope to be up and running in the next three to four weeks.
Not that they don’t have big plans for the inside that need to be realized in that time. The hope is to create a cool, laid-back bar with friendly staff, where people can hang out. There’ll be a Z-shaped bar, reclaimed wood stools, and a leather couch. The place will be decorated with old leather and brass chairs, chandeliers, globe pendants, and a teal wall with a giant peacock.
“It’ll be very hip for Marin,” said Ashby-Simmons.
Now, San Anselmo is no Fairfax with a half-dozen bars on one block. So, how will the town deal with another new wine bar just a block away?
Because, it’ll be completely different, said Glass, who is opening La Loggia near the end of May.
Glass, a Irish native, real estate broker and San Anselmo resident, and his partner, Vincent Knobel, may not have as much experience as the Lincoln Park team, but they are full of passion for bringing a great, European-style vinoteca and café to their town.
“It’ll be a very relaxed environment, where people could come to have a drink,” said Glass.
The two were inspired by trips to Spain and Italy, where they loved the tapas plates and vinotecas. But, reasoned Glass, who looks out onto the Seminary from his house every morning, “I don’t have to go to Europe to feel like I’m in Europe.”
The wine bar will serve small plates and cheeses, as well as California wines. Though the emphasis will be on slow food and local production, there will also be a selection of wines from further afield like South Africa or New Zealand.
But, La Loggio will be more than a wine bar.
In the mornings, the place will open as a café at 7 a.m. and serve top-end espresso. The two just finalized a deal with the popular Blue Bottle to serve their coffee and will be one of just a couple places in Marin serving the exclusive brand.
And, throughout the day, there will also be a retail arm in the front of the shop – like a farmers’ market year-round that also sells wine. Knobel, who took a course on cheese-making, has reached out to all the local, small producers to offer a place to sell their fares.
“It’s for if you say ‘I want some Nicasio cheese, but I need it right now,’” said Glass.
Because they are opening up in the old French Nest building right at the corner of Tunstead and San Anselmo Avenues, a whole new use permit was required from the city to serve food and drinks. They’ll also be doing more extensive construction to turn the antique store into a bar and kitchen, so the build-out is expected to take about two months once all the approvals are in.
But, said Glass, the extra work is worth it for such a great location.
“It’s such an anchor for the town,” said Glass of the large building with big windows and French doors.
Fred Devine designed the architectural plans for the remodel, which will include a retrofit, and Terry Ohm is helping with the interior design, which will include clear resin with big silver birch twigs all backlit.
When the two of them first moved to town a few years ago, said Glass, there was nowhere to really get a drink in San Anselmo. They’d go down to Larkspur for a quick snack and glass of wine. But, with the two new bars opening up, that could soon change.
“Maybe San Anselmo will turn around and be a place people come,” said Glass.