World Wrapps returns
Twenty-five years after World Wrapps was born in the Bay Area, two of its original founders have revived the fast-casual chain and plan to open two locations on the Peninsula.
World Wrapps will open at Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto in late January or early February and at the San Antonio Center in Mountain View in late 2021 or early 2022. Local diners might remember World Wrapps from when it operated on Emerson Street and University Avenue in Palo Alto 20 years ago.
Matthew Blair and Keith Cox, two of the four owners who opened World Wrapps in San Francisco in 1995, recently bought back and revamped the company. (Cox also co-founded and owns sustainable seafood eatery Pacific Catch.)
World Wrapps 2.0, as they call it, serves flatbread that's pressed fresh to order and plant-based Beyond Meat. They dropped smoothies from the menu and replaced them with boba tea, agua fresca, horchata and mango lassi.
In addition to flatbread wraps, the eatery now serves burrito-sized nori wraps with sushi rice and fillings like yellowfin tuna, furikake salmon, ahi poke, avocado, macadamia nuts and garlic aioli. There are also large versions of summer rolls, rice paper stuffed with proteins including chicken, shrimp, salmon and tahini tofu. All wraps can be ordered as bowls.
They reopened the first World Wrapps location in San Francisco in early 2020. When the coronavirus hit, they pivoted to donating meals to first responders, health care workers and people in need. This effort, combined with the menu's natural disposition to takeout, meant World Wrapps hasn't had to furlough or lay off a single employee during the pandemic, Blair said.
"We're very fortunate to be in fast casual right now. We have small stores. We do have dine-in capability but that's not the majority of our business," he said.
It's also allowed them to keep growing at a time when most restaurants are struggling to survive. There are now three World Wrapps in San Francisco, Santa Clara and Corte Madera. The Palo Alto World Wrapps will open next, then another outpost in San Ramon and Mountain View.
Stay tuned on opening dates for the Palo Alto and Mountain View locations.
JuiceBox wine shop debuts
Local restaurateur and wine bar owner Zu Tarazi is back with a new project: JuiceBox, a Redwood City wine shop focused on small producers.
JuiceBox opened in December at 318 Arguello St., where he and his wife Kristi Borrone ran Kristi Marie's until last March. The couple sold the business in late February, but when shelter in place took effect shortly after, the buyers backed out, Tarazi said.
Tarazi was on his way out from Bottle Shop, a wine bar he opened a few blocks away in 2018, so he decided to open his own shop and tasting room. (Bottle Shop is still open under different ownership.)
"I think more than ever we need to support the smaller producers in light of the fires of 2018 and 2019 and the pandemic," Tarazi said. "A lot of the big guys are going to be OK but these smaller producers are going to struggle — and it's not done yet."
Tarazi began his career as a manager at the longtime, now-closed John Bentley's in Redwood City. He met Borrone while working at her family's iconic Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park. They went on to open two restaurants together, Station 1 in Woodside and Kristi Marie's.
While the majority of the wine Tarazi sells subscribes to the notion of hands-off winemaking with little intervention — often captured in the broad umbrella term natural wine — he doesn't strictly define JuiceBox as a natural wine shop. He wants to highlight "winemakers who respect their land, using organic or biodynamic farming to produce wines with little to no addition, wines that let the terroir and style shine through," the JuiceBox website reads.
Unlike Bottle Shop, which was focused on California wines, JuiceBox's shelves are stocked with bottles from Northern California, Oregon, Italy, France and Mexico. There are wines made by Jamiee Motley in Sebastopol, who lost nearly her entire vintage of 2019 wine in the Glass Fire this fall; grenache and chardonnay from Florez Wines, an organic producer in Santa Cruz; and syrah from Donkey & Goat Winery in Berkeley, whose biodynamic wines have nothing added except for minimal sulphur.
For now, JuiceBox is only open for pickup and delivery but when public health restrictions allow for it, the shop will offer by-the-glass tastings, winemaker events and Equator Coffee espresso. JuiceBox won't serve food, unless it's slabs of focaccia made by Borrone (a popular offering at Bottle Shop when Tarazi ran it.)
JuiceBox also offers a wine club that comes with three bottles per month for $90.
Tarazi's goal at JuiceBox is to encourage customers to drink wine as locally as possible.
"The same way you're approaching your food and trying to support local restaurants, I think it's really important that we take that step with buying wine," he said. "I know convenience wins a lot of the time but I hope that there's a little more consideration of where their (customers') buying power is."
JuiceBox is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tarazi offers same-day delivery within 5 miles of the shop for orders placed online before 4 p.m.
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