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Charlie Palmer Steak Opens in Downtown Napa This Week

San Francisco Chronicle
Written by: Justin Phillips

Charlie Palmer says it’s time for people to focus on the positive when it comes to Napa. It’s a mantra the Wine Country restaurateur says he’s been living by for the last few months while coordinating the opening of Charlie Palmer Steak Napa in Downtown Napa’s Archer Hotel.

The restaurant officially opens Thursday.

“I’m one of the most optimistic people there is,” he recently told Inside Scoop. “The last thing worth talking about is just the doom and gloom of everything.

The doom and gloom he’s referring is the aftermath of historic wildfires that raced across Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties, destroying more than 8,000 homes and other structures and leaving 199,000 acres scorched.

“We’re in the post-fire phase. That’s the attitude now,” says Palmer, whose steak house represents the first notable new restaurant to open in Napa after the fires.

All in all, it’s a unique time for a debut, Palmer admits, simply because there are misconceptions about the state of Napa and surrounding areas. Most people still envision the dramatic images of vineyards burning and homes being reduced to rubble.

nly 5 percent of the nearly 4 million acres across Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino burned, according to reports. And of the region’s 1,200 or vineyards, only three were destroyed.

“I have friends in New York who will ask how they can help. I tell them to fly to Napa, spend some money and enjoy yourself,” Palmer says. “I can’t stress how important it is for people to come and drink the wine, eat the food and stay in the hotels. Support it. That’s the key thing.”

Palmer’s venture will also be the first major restaurant to open within the Archer Hotel, the city’s boutique hotel that’s serving as the anchor for the 325,000 square feet of downtown Napa commercial development space. The Charlie Palmer Group will also manage all food and beverage operations in the hotel. A rooftop bar and restaurant is also in the works.

The project makes sense for Palmer, who’s no stranger to the world of hotelier. He owns San Francisco’s Mystic Hotel, recently acquired St. Helena’s 40-year-old Harvest Inn, and is a partner in Sonoma County’s Hotel Healdsburg.

The Napa steak house is the fifth iteration of Palmer’s eponymous restaurant, which has sister properties in New York, Washington D.C., Las Vegas and Reno.

Napa’s outpost, which is being led by executive chef Jeffery Russell, will have 120-seats, a 48-seat lounge, and a 12-seat circular bar.

Palmer calls it a “modern steak house” with three meal services and a dinner menu with dishes like the Prime Platter with lobster, oysters, poached prawns and king crab legs; see the full dinner menu here.

“This project is a statement with or without the fires,” he says. “It’s the biggest thing to happen to downtown Napa in a long time.”

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