Peyer in 2007

It’s been a tense couple of weeks as insiders waited to see who would take over the flagging PizzaVino707 space in Sebastopol. News of the restaurant’s demise had been circulating for weeks, and some serious heavy hitters in the local restaurant scene were rumored to be “very interested” in the space and had planned to expand to Sebastopol.

Once the restaurant closed and the dust settled, however, the keys were turned over to chef couple Steven Peyer and Jamilah Nixon. The Sebastopol toques will partner with close friend and former Chef’s Catalog CEO Patrick Wynhoff to create not one, but TWO new restaurant concepts in the sprawling space.

At the yet-unnamed restaurant the front bar and patio will be converted into a Southeast Asian-style noodle shop with banh mi sandwiches, noodle bowls with traditional broths, salads and daily specials such as fried chicken with rice and papaya salad or Asian chicken wings, said Nixon. “It will be very traditional, but focused on the local produce available at the time,” she added. Nixon is looking to her experience cooking in Thailand, along with closer-to-home stints at Lucy’s (where she met Peyer), Mosaic, at the Stark Restaurant group and Marinitas in Marin. “For years I’ve wanted to open a noodle shop,” she said.

In the larger dining room, Peyer (who moved to SoCo to open Peter Lowell’s) will focus on Italian soul food featuring the existing wood-fired oven and grills. The menu is still in the works but will include grilled and braised meats, pizzas, handmade pasta and “luscious, rustic, simple food,” Nixon said.

Wynhoff, who is one of a handful of investors, will tap into his experiences at design-forward companies like Williiams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn to create a brand and marketing plan for the restaurant.

So what swung the deal in the couple’s favor? Nixon, who grew up in Sonoma County, said that Stephen Singer (West County Grill/Pizzavino 707) was an early supporter of the couple’s vision. “I’ve worked in Sonoma County since I was 15. We are in touch with the community. We know everyone. That is an important thing we brought to the table,” she said.

The restaurant is slated for a November opening.