A new location of the wildly popular Farmhouse Kitchen chain has been on Berkeley diners’ most anticipated restaurant list since 2019, with folks like Cityside News Platforms Director Doug Ng saying that he was ready to “count down the days to opening.” Sadly, Doug and the rest of us will be counting to 365 or more, as unexpected and substantial issues with its two-story building on Shattuck Avenue have postponed its opening until at least 2023.
Back in 2019, co-owner Atikom “Arty” Larpnampha confirmed to Nosh that the restaurant group behind Farmhouse Kitchen — the company that also owns Son & Garden, Daughter Thai, and Farmhouse Express — bought the building at 1549 Shattuck Ave. that had been home to Dara Thai Lao Cuisine for around 18 years (and before that, Bridge Creek). The news was hailed with excitement, as the Farmhouse brands are a hot ticket, first and foremost for their reliable and delicious spin on southern Thai dishes, as well as for its big-deal-on-Instagram presentation and dining rooms.
Larpnampha thought then that he’d be opening Berkeley’s Farmhouse Kitchen by the end of that year, but permit delays pushed that date back, then the pandemic slowed things even more. Speaking with Nosh last fall, Farmhouse managing director Boom Wanvisa said that they expected to finally open in late 2021, with rooftop dining and a snazzy remodel inside.
Speaking to Nosh now, Wanvisa said that her previous prediction was made before the company knew “just how bad the building was,” and that “we don’t know when we’re planning to open” anymore. “The problems we thought were just cosmetic are way more,” she said. “We have to redo the whole building. The electrical, the foundation…” she said, trailing off.
Since Farmhouse Kitchen owns the building, things are more complicated than it might have been if they’d discovered these issues with a space the company was merely renting. But since the entire structure is theirs, “we have to handle everything start-to-finish, and we can’t just focus on that right now.”
That’s because Farmhouse is also opening another restaurant, called Noka Ramen, in Jack London Square within the next few weeks. The Japanese restaurant, which, per the SF Chronicle, “will serve bowls of rainbow-colored noodles that get their bright colors from natural ingredients like butterfly pea flowers and dragon fruit,” is a project that’s taken a lot of the team’s attention, Wanvisa said. A big part of that focus has been on Noka’s 60-seat dining room, which will be themed “Amazing Amazon,” Wanvisa told Nosh, saying that the plant-packed restaurant “will be great for Instagram.”
That ramen restaurant, located at 60 Franklin St., is “at the final decorating stage,” she said, and once it passes its final inspections will be set to open “soon.”
“This was way easier, start-to-finish, than the other one,” she said, comparing the Oakland renovation to the Berkeley one. The company is also expanding elsewhere in the Bay Area, with new spots like another Son & Garden in Palo Alto. Those new restaurants have also diverted time and energy from the Shattuck project, Wanvisa said.
“Right now, we have to focus on what we can get done, and wait for what we can’t,” Wanvisa said, which means Berkeley diners like Ng must continue to patiently hang in there. “We hope that we can maybe have things done by mid next year, but we don’t know,” Wanvisa said, as permits have been slow to come by and “Berkeley is not always the easiest to work with.”
Folks who want to try Farmhouse Kitchen now can travel to its Oakland location in Jack London Square, at 336 Water St.