The quirky Santa Rosa roadhouse recently vacated by Zazu’s Restaurant owners Duskie Estes and John Stewart is already under serious rehab by nearby Walter Hansel Winery with plans for a full-service bistro.
Slated to open in October, the Walter Hansel Wine Bistro will be a casual eatery that mixes “fine dining and fun”, according to winery owner Stephen Hansel. Hansel’s in the midst of interviewing for kitchen staff, so no word on a chef yet, but food won’t play second fiddle to the wines. “The French have it right. They understand that food and wine really need to go together,” said Hansel. “Food is the main course, and wine the accessory,” he said.
The restaurant will feature Hansel’s Russian River wines along with those of nearby wineries, in addition to California and a few French Bordeaux. So why would a car dealer-turned winery owner want to open a restaurant? The lack of a tasting room at the winery, his desire to work directly with customers and, well, the restaurant is practically within throwing distance.
“It’s a mile away from us,” he said. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been nearly so interested.”