Chez Panisse Recovers From Fire, Reopening June 21st

Staff Writer
Legendary California spot rises from the ashes after nighttime flame
Aya Brackett

A fire in the middle of the night on March 8 temporarily closed Chez Panisse for repairs.

After a destructive fire on March 8, Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse will re-open its doors on the summer solstice — June 21. 

The front porch, wooden facade, electrical systems, and plumbing needed much repair thanks to the fire, according to the Los Angeles Times. The original restaurant builder and designer Kip Mesirow returned with a crew of craftsmen to restore all the things that made Chez Panisse distinctive — copper lanterns, enclosed porches, Japanese and Craftsman-style details.

But this wasn’t the first fire for the wooden house. On March 7, 1982, an ember dropped into a bag of mesquite charcoal, producing an even more detrimental blaze than this recent one. As a result of the damage, however, the kitchen was opened up so diners could enjoy watching the chefs prepare the food behind the counter.

The reopening celebration will benefit Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Project, which educates children on the seed-to-table concept and fosters an appreciation for fresh, local ingredients. 

Seats for the reopening/fundraiser do not come cheap. It is $1,000 for a seat in the upstairs café and $2,500 for a seat in the downstairs restaurant. The evening will only have one seating.

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Reservations open on May 27 by phone, and May 28 online and through OpenTable.