News that someone is taking over the Jimtown Store in Healdsburg has spread through Sonoma County faster than butter melting on a hot griddle. But it may be a little too soon to count those chickens, according to Michelle Wood, the owner of Dim Sum and Then Sum catering. She confirmed that she is hoping to reopen the iconic barn as a deli and cafe — once she signs on the dotted line.
With the sale still pending, Wood said she hopes to revive the general store’s history, “with my spin on it.” Sandwiches and salads would return, along with Asian fusion dishes and dim sum on Sundays, along with to-go frozen meals, she said.
It wasn’t cooking, however, that first brought the lab manager turned caterer to Jimtown. Instead, she said, she fell in love with the historic way-stop as a cyclist. With few choices in the area for food, Jimtown was a popular oasis for riders who sipped and snacked midride until it closed in 2019.
After pivoting to full-time catering in 2021, Wood has become known for her handmade dumplings, steamed buns and spring rolls inspired by her family’s Chinese cooking. Her event menus, however, span a range of cuisines including Wine Country and Mexican.
Jimtown founder Carrie Brown, who opened the store in 1991 with her late husband, John Werner, expressed relief and happiness at the potential sale.
“It’s been a long time coming,” she said.
Brown shuttered the one-of-a-kind gourmet cafe and gift shop in 2019 due to rising costs and the destructive wildfires in the area. Her next role, she said, will be as a champion and supporter of the new owner.
The Highway 128 outpost first opened in 1893 to serve as a post office, general store and meeting place for residents of the Alexander Valley, according to the Jimtown website, which remains active. It became an offbeat destination for visitors who enjoyed Brown’s eclectic collection of toys, candies and housewares. Neighbors met for sandwiches and Brown’s famous Chain Gang Chili and to share local gossip.
“There were other people (interested in Jimtown), and Carrie chose me. I am so grateful to her,” Wood said.
More details to come, when the sale is final.