Chip and I went to City Winery yesterday for lunch and discovered a real gem. This is big city dining and entertainment in our little city of Napa.
The restaurant occupies the ground level of the Napa Valley Opera House, the grand dame of Napa dating back to 1880. In 1914 it closed and remained vacant for 89 years, reopening its doors in 2002, but struggled financially. City Winery has come to the rescue, opening in April 2014 after a $3 million renovation, which transformed the ground level to a stunning restaurant, and the upstairs theater to a cabaret style seating for live performances. Napa is the third City Winery, the first two being in New York City and Chicago, with Nashville just opening on September 17.
The earthquake retrofit was done right and the Napa Valley Opera House experienced minimal damage on August 24, 2014. The accessibility retrofit was done right, and this historic building is handicap accessible!
Today’s visit is news worthy! Eloisa Ruano Gonzalez, a reporter from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat joined us to see what I do as I review the accessibility of a restaurant for incredibleACCESSIBLE.
The first thing I did this time was look up at this eye-popping ceiling! I’ve been in the Opera House many times before and I sure didn’t remember this ceiling. That’s because City Winery created it as part of their renovation. Those are authentic bricks and authentic wood, and set the tone for our entire experience.
Though we were here for lunch, I couldn’t resist pulling up to the accessible bar for a taste of wine, with Chip joining me in the companion chair. They serve 35 local wines on tap, which can be purchased as a taste, a glass, half carafe or full carafe. John Ruch, the Tap Bar and Restaurant Director gave us the honor of serving.
The staff at City Winery “gets it” when it comes to accessibility. Everyone that I interacted with was so nice, so friendly, attentive without being cloying. What a pleasant, happy experience for me.
We were early for lunch and had our pick of tables. Every table was accessible, with pedestal bases that allowed for a wheelchair or scooter to pull up. I opted to transfer to a booth for our party of three.
Our third was Gayle Jenkins, a dear friend and our photographer for the day. Lunch is served! Note the wine barrel stave trim at the top of the booth, another authentic decorating touch.
Delicious! With a Mediterranean flair the menu was inviting and my gluten free, dairy free request was easily satisfied. We were so engaged in conversation that we forgot the photos of the second course, but know that the fish tacos are delicious as well.
What a treat! The Executive Chef, Joe Panarello, came out of the kitchen to meet us, and was joined by the Box Office Manager, Amanda Tallman. Box Office Manager at a restaurant? City Winery is so much more than a restaurant. Keep reading and you’ll find out about the live entertainment.
The outdoor dining patio beckons us just beyond the dining room. I came here a week ago for lunch, and that lunch is what brought me back today.
No we’re not having a second lunch, though the food is so good it’s potentially tempting. It’s a beautiful setting and again the tables are all accessible and the thresholds between indoors and outdoors are flat.
This is the back of the building! Not only is it beautiful, it is also on the Napa River.
This is the view to the Napa River. There are hard decisions here. Outdoor patio dining with wide open vistas, or indoor dining in that beautiful dining room with the vaulted brick ceiling. The food will bring you back anyway, so you’ll be able to experience both.
And now for one of the most critical pieces of the puzzle!
The Women’s Restroom is as beautiful as the rest of the building, with plenty of regular stalls, one stall with grab bars, and a fully accessible stall. Even on a busy night the wait should be short.
One stop hand washing. With the sink, soap, paper towels and trash bin all together you won’t need to travel with wet hands to get a paper towel. And there is plenty of room for a scooter to be sideways.
The Men’s Restroom is equally appointed with it’s own handsome color scheme. And clean!
I promised more information on the Box Office, and here it is. Up the elevator to the second floor is the main entertainment stage, set up with cabaret style tables, all handicap accessible. With 200 or so live shows scheduled during the year, including jazz, rock, indie, and stand-up comedy, chances are there will be a great show in town when you are. If you’re a local you’re really in luck. With three tiers of pricing, select the table in the location you prefer. If you prefer the balcony with traditional theater seating, seats 475 and 476 have been removed to accommodate a wheelchair.
I have not had this experience yet, but now that I’ve discovered it, I will. It just has magic written all over it.
The practicality of parking… Across the street is a parking lot with 2 accessible parking spaces. Street parking is feasible.
My preference is the Second Street Garage less than 2 blocks away, a covered parking lot with 5 accessible spaces on the ground floor. It’s open 5 am to 11 pm and it’s free. In the winter when it’s raining, it’s great to have a roof over your head!
1030 Main Street, Napa, CA 94559
Lunch: Thursday and Friday 11:30 am- 3:00 pm
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Dinner: Daily 5:00 pm