Sonoma has its Oliver’s and Pacific Market. Napa has its Dean & Deluca and Whole Foods.
Yet with the opening of chef Lisa Hemenway’s Fresh today, grocery shopping hits a new level.
How much can you pack into 7,800-square-feet? The emporium takes over the former Skyhawk Village Market space on Highway 12 in Santa Rosa, and every nook-and-cranny is filled with something edible and upscale.
If you’ve heard of Hemenway, the ambition of the supermarket isn’t surprising. She is a Sonoma County fixture, with nearly three decades in the food industry. She was the original sous and pastry chef for John Ash & Co, owned Polka Dots in Railroad Square, and ran her eponymous restaurant, Lisa Hemenway’s Restaurant and Café in Montgomery Village, plus Lisa Hemenway’s Bistro in Town & Country Center.
Still, this is something special.
First up is the grocery, which is designed as an elaborate French country market. There are no sundries like paper towels, but aisle upon aisle of produce, tofu, ice cream, teas, cookies, rice, jellies, and much more.
There is a cheese station, and an array of flavored oils and vinegars. The wine section showcases local labels, in favorites and unheard-ofs, like the up-and-coming Super Sonoman from Santa Rosa resident Peter Taddei.
In the deli, look for an enormous set-up featuring charcuterie, salads and rotisserie chicken, homemade-daily pastas, premium packaged meals to-go, and a wood-burning oven cranking out pizzas, plus entrees like roasted salmon and mac-n-cheese.
Or if you’d rather stay a while, you can grab a seat in the fast- but full-service restaurant seating 75 though breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is a wine and beer bar next to the bistro, and the Flying Goat coffee salon and French bakery on the other side of a half-wall. You can sip your coffee in the lounge that’s decorated living room style with leather love seats, or take it to-go, perhaps to the large patio overlooking a creek.
Finally, just by the checkout stands, there is an “impulse center,” stocked with fresh flowers, wine country gifts, and grab-n-go foods like breakfast sandwiches and lunch boxes.
If it seems odd to want to hang out in a supermarket, wait until you take in the stylish décor. Butter and lime colored walls are accented by black-and-white awnings hung over countertops, and contemporary black-and-white lamps suspended from the ceiling. Hand-carved dark wood pillars keep spaces separate but airy, while an antique wood trough planted with tall reeds and flowers helps frame the restaurant.
You can check it all out at Fresh’s grand opening party, beginning Nov. 1 and running through Nov. 12.
From Monday through Wednesday, guest will sample free eats and drinks while they meet local food celebrities. Next Wednesday and Thursday, the grocery goes gala, with a pair of $50-per-person soirees.
Here’s the line-up:
Monday, Nov. 1, 2 to 6 p.m. - Blankety Blank potatoes with Denny Hunt and his donkey; Village Bakery with baker Pat Lum; Hare Hollow gourmet olive oils and infused vinegars; Brie, Jimtown spreads, Columbus salami and Toma from Petaluma’s Mike Hudson; winemaker Mike Lee from Patianna.
Tuesday, Nov. 2, 1 to 7 p.m. - ginger bread cookies from Cobblestone Cookies; Smoked Olive Oil from the Smoked Olive; Flying Goat Coffee espresso and cappuccino; Shawn Sullberg of Sullberg Wines; Peters’ Chocolates; Mary’s air-chilled chicken from the Pitman family; Madame Preston Rhone-style wines.
Wednesday, Nov. 3, 1 to 4 p.m. - Hummus and pitas from the Hummus Guy; Butterfi Cinnamon toast spread and crackers with handmade butter; Nana Mae’s hot mulled apple cider; Snake River Farms Kobe beef brochette; Leveroni Vineyards wines with owner Pat Stornetta.
Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 10 and 11, 6 to 9 p.m., $50 per person per night.
Elaborate food and wine stations set up throughout the store, offering local dishes paired with Harvest Fair winning- and other Sonoma favorite wines. Meet the winemakers and local food growers, bakers and makers while listening to live accordion music.
Details: Fresh, 5755 Mountain Hawk Way, Santa Rosa. 707-595-1048. freshbylisahemenway.com.
Tip: It takes a big, beautiful vehicle to cart home all these gourmet grocery goodies. Live it up, and reserve a limo from Pure Luxury Transportation.