A pedestrian walks past the entrance of Chez Panisse on an early Sunday morning. October 25, 2020.
Chez Panisse has been closed to diners since March 2020, but will reopen this fall. Credit: Pete Rosos

After a lengthy pandemic shutdown, iconic Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse will reopen its dining room to patrons once again. But before you head to its reservations page, take a beat: According to the restaurant, it won’t start taking reservations until September 2021 and won’t reopen its doors until October.

Chez Panisse
1517 Shattuck Ave. (near Vine Street), Berkeley

The vaunted restaurant, which is the recipient of multiple James Beard awards but was confoundingly stripped of its Michelin star over a decade ago, is largely credited for pioneering the now-common concept of California cuisine (local and seasonal dishes, farm-to-table meals, you know all the buzzwords). It was co-founded by author and food activist Alice Waters in 1971, and as it gained popularity, it became known as one of the toughest-to-get reservations in the region, making a meal at Chez Panisse as much a status symbol as a great experience in dining.

As with most fine dining establishments across the state, Chez Panisse shut its doors when the pandemic began: When a restaurant’s reputation is built as much on the dining experience as the food, converting its menu to takeout just doesn’t make sense. Instead, it served patrons with a Sunday farm box, then launched a casual takeout menu that rotated weekly, with dishes like intensely local sandwiches and house-made potato chips.

That Sunday market and takeout service will continue for now, the restaurant said in its opening announcement, but will likely wind down by the time restaurant’s dining room reopens in the fall. Other details on the restaurant’s reopening were not forthcoming as of publication time — Nosh has reached out to Chez Panisse for more information and will update when we receive a response.

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Eve Batey has worked as a reporter and editor since 2004, including as the co-founder of SFist, as a deputy managing editor of the SF Chronicle and as the editor of Eater San Francisco.