Chez Panisse 04.30.13 by Emilie Raguso
Reconstruction work on the front of Chez Panisse on Tuesday, April 30. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Chez Panisse said it is planning to reopen on Monday June 10, three months after a fire damaged the front section of the famous restaurant in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto.

Cristina Mueller, who works in owner Alice Waters’ office, said the restaurant is in the throes of rebuilding work. The restaurant is not taking reservations yet, but will let customers know via its website when it is begins to do so. Both the café and the restaurant will reopen at the same time.

Mueller said a crane had earlier today lowered a large steel frame into the restaurant for structural support, and that a new foundation was poured last week for the portion of the restaurant that was damaged by the fire, believed to have been sparked by an electrical fault.

The early morning fire on March 8 that damaged the front of Chez Panisse started underneath the dining alcove. Photo: Colleen Neff

Asked whether returning customers would notice any differences to the restaurant’s décor or architecture once they return later this year, Mueller said there would be some improvements, but that mostly it should feel very familiar.

According to Inside Scoop in the San Francisco Chronicle, the addition of the frame marks the first time that metal has been a part of the 42-year-old building’s redwood foundation. When it is unveiled, the restaurant will also sport a new gabled roof, following new designs by Kip Mesirow, the restaurant’s original builder.

In a note posted on its website, Waters said they had decided against opening part of the eatery while building was ongoing. “We had considered whether it would be possible to open the café earlier with construction still going on, but have decided to complete all construction work before opening. This will allow the builders unfettered access to the building without having to open the café on a daily basis—which would have slowed their work considerably. We are, of course, working as quickly as possible and may be able to open earlier; we will update as the rebuilding progresses.”

Chez Panisse closed indefinitely, major rebuild needed [03.19.13]
Chez Panisse rebuilds, focuses on re-opening [03.13.13]
Fire at Chez Panisse damages front of restaurant [03.08.13]

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...