Update: Woodside restaurant, bakery set to open around Thanksgiving


This is an expanded version of a previously posted story.

If a new restaurant and bakery opens as planned around Thanksgiving at 3052 Woodside Road in Woodside, regular customers of what was once the Woodside Bakery & Cafe may recognize a menu advertising organic vegetables, artisanal pizza and roast chicken. Less familiar sights might include table cloths on some tables, and a full cocktail bar.

The restaurant is referred to for now as "The Bakery in Woodside" by Tim Stannard, a Woodside resident and founding partner of San Francisco-based Bacchus Management Group, which owns the restaurant and several others, including The Village Pub in Woodside. A theme for the new restaurant's menu has been coalescing around the idea of "simple elegant American food," he said.

Like the institution it is replacing, the new place will include a retail bakery with artisan breads, cookies, pies, pastries "and all other manner of sweets," Mr. Stannard told the Almanac. The barista-prepared drinks will include coffee from Bacchus' own roasting company, he said.

The restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and "an expansive" brunch on weekends, he said.

Asked how many dollar signs guide books would assign the new restaurant, Mr. Stannard said he hopes for two. "We'd like to keep it inexpensive," he said, but with a menu that includes $1.75 muffins and $800 bottles of wine. He said he is "hopeful we can play some role in being the communal gathering spot for the town."

The building is in need of structural repairs, which are ongoing. The new restaurant and bakery will include the floor area of the former frame shop next door for a total of 4,100 square feet inside and the patio in the back.

In addition to The Village Pub, the Bacchus Management Group owns the Mayfield Bakery & Cafe in Palo Alto, Spruce restaurant in San Francisco, and the Pizza Antica restaurants in San Jose, Lafayette, Mill Valley and Santa Monica.

Spruce and The Village Pub each have a Michelin star, and both were chosen for the Grand Award from Wine Spectator magazine in 2015, Mr. Stannard said a combination shared by just three restaurant groups in the world, he said.

Eating tuition money

At age 20 and out of culinary school, Mr. Stannard (who is now 47) was managing Il Fornaio bakery in San Francisco, and it wore him out, he said. He enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley and focused on American studies with plans to be a history professor. Alice Waters' Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, however, undid him.

"When you're an undergraduate, you probably shouldn't be dining at Chez Panisse three times a week," he said. "I blew through my whole college tuition."

He found a job tending bar at Bix restaurant in San Francisco, where owner Doug Biederbeck mentored him and, after Mr. Stannard graduated from Cal, turned over management of the restaurant to him, he said. More restaurant management experience followed and he founded Bacchus in 2001, the same year he opened The Village Pub.

Can't and won't

Asked how the staff at his new restaurant might respond to a request for something not on the menu, Mr. Stannard replied with two anecdotes that reflect his training of employees on the cautionary use of the words "can't" and "won't."

In the first instance, Mr. Stannard said, a customer requested a diet Mountain Dew. The waiter left the restaurant via the back door, ran to a convenience store and bought a six-pack of that beverage. Mr. Stannard said he encountered the waiter as he re-entered the kitchen without his apron, prompting a question as to where he had been. After a brief explanation, the customer got his diet Mountain Dew.

In the second case, Mr. Stannard said, a customer at the bar, having studied the menu, asked for pasta with Bolognese sauce not on the menu. The bartender asked the chef, who replied that it would be about 45 minutes. That customer came back again and again, always ordering the same thing, for 10 years, Mr. Stannard said. At one point, they asked him to please call ahead, he said.

"The food that we serve, that's just a tool to making people happy," Mr. Stannard said. Other considerations: the music, interior design, uniforms, lighting, the shape of the glasses, the table coverings, the weight of the cutlery. "It's a symphony of tastes," he said. "The restaurants that I love are the restaurants where I walk out the door feeling better than when I went in."

Asked about his hiring plans for the new Woodside venture, Mr. Stannard said the management would be hired well ahead of the working staff, and that Bacchus likes to promote from within. The company has its own internal training division. "We have very, very little turnover," he said. "Because of our reinvestment in the people we have, people don't leave."

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