Chalkboard Bistro to replace Cyrus in Healdsburg

Investor Bill Foley will open Chalk Board Bistro, a casual dining restaurant, in the Les Mars Hotel in Healdsburg to replace Michelin-starred Cyrus.

Bill Foley will open Chalkboard at the Les Mars Hotel
Bill Foley will open Chalkboard at the Les Mars Hotel. Photo: Kent Porter, PD
Bill Foley will open Chalk board at the Les Mars Hotel
Bill Foley will open Chalk Board at the Les Mars Hotel. Photo: Kent Porter, PD

Investor Bill Foley plans to open Chalkboard Bistro & Wine Bar this spring in the former Cyrus space at the Les Mars Hotel in Healdsburg.

He’s hired Shane McAnelly, the former executive chef of Va de Vi, a critically-acclaimed tapas-style bistro and wine bar in Walnut Creek. McAnelly left Va de Vi in December, according to Inside Scoop.

The concept will be an “upscale casual” fun atmosphere where visitors can share small plates and wine tasting flights, Foley said.  “It should be a lot of fun,” he said, adding that restaurant will take full advantage of his kitchen gardens at Chalk Hill Winery.

Sources in the restaurant biz close to Foley said he was looking for a more “approachable” restaurant to replace the Michelin-starred Cyrus.

Cyrus closed in Oct. 2012 after years of disputes and lawsuits between Foley and Chef Douglas Keane, who leased the space. Foley is the owner of Chalk Hill Winery, Sebastiani Vineyard and Winery in Sonoma; Merus, Altvus, Kuleto Estate in Napa as well as numerous wineries throughout California and Washington and New Zealand.

– Reporting by Cathy Bussewitz of the Press Democrat. Check out her profile on Foley here.


34 thoughts on “Chalkboard Bistro to replace Cyrus in Healdsburg

  1. Thank you, Bite Club, for being the voice of reason and moderation. Most of the people on this board, spewing their vitriol just to have something to say, need to take a step back and take a deep breath. You are absolutely right that if Foley tried to duplicate the Cyrus experience, everyone would 1) be complaining that it will never be what it was, and 2) say that he is catering to the elite crowd and that Healdsburg doesn’t need more of that.

    Instead, people are saying that Foley “ran roughshod” over a mom and pop place…that happened to charge $400+ for dinner for two (disclaimer: Yes, I had dinner there. No, I didn’t think it was a transcendental, life-changing experience). It’s easy in retrospect to follow the whole squabble through past articles and it definitely never seemed as one-sided as the responses below intimate. The one comment that I remember from back then and resonates in hindsight, that came from Keane very early on, was “[Keane] adds: “If they want to buy Cyrus, just make us an offer like anyone else would. It’s not for sale, but everything has a price.” (; I guess Keane and Foley came to an agreement of what that was. Now the Cyrus guys are “relaxing” and in no rush to open up another high-end (read: capital intensive) restaurant and Foley is moving on; as beloved as the restaurant was, I wonder how many of these commentators had a personal connection with it and/or actually dined there more than once in a blue moon.

    Again, I agree with Bite Club and a few others: Give the new place a chance, I know I will. If I like it, I’ll return. If I don’t, I’ll go elsewhere. What I won’t do is go on a Quixotic, philosophical quest to “give back that same medicine” to Foley or anyone else.

  2. Seems pretty unfortunate to be condemning a restaurant before it opens.

    Frankly, I think we need to give the new chef a chance, regardless of any personal opinions about the owner.

    From where I sit, I’m a bit surprised at the choice of a bistro. I was laying bets it would be a high-end eatery with a high-end chef as a sort of vanity play and more like the L’Auberge Carmel restaurant. Thing is people would be complaining equally loudly if it was that it was too “elitist”.

    I’m interested in the outcome and kind of compelled to see what the Chalk Hill garden connection will be. All of us win when a restaurant comes to Sonoma county and is successful. With Foley’s money behind it, there’s not much chance it will fail.

    1. ” I think we need to give the new chef a chance, regardless of any personal opinions about the owner.” The general public disagrees with you. Why should we support ANY business that this person supports when we KNOW that he is duplicious and a bully. This is the way a free market works dear. If capitalists treat the public with contempt and carelessness that same public has the duty to give back that same medicine. I hope his new place is a flop, it already is with locals, that leaves the hapless Tourists to prey on and most of us will steer them away also.

      1. The free market will always decide, but its rarely because of who owns a company.

        May I remind you of Chick-fil-A?

        Let me also note that for a populist, you’re pretty sexist, dear.

        And on a final note, I personally think Douglas Keane is an amazing chef and Nick Peyton is one of the most gracious people I’ve ever met. I’m always rooting for them in anything they do, but I’m also not going to pre-judge this restaurant. Its a bummer Cyrus closed, but I suspect Doug and Nick will move on to something new and wonderful and I look forward to that.

        1. “May I remind you of Chick-fil-A?” Really, you choose an avowed homophobic truly sexist Corporation to make what point? That people are stupid and will defile their fellow citizens to eat deep fried garbage? It sounds like you’re advocating that people NOT be aware of how and o whom they spend their money. If that is NOT what you’re advocating then why shouldn’t locals express their distaste for people treating others with disrespect and hold them accountable, because that’s the most valid point to be made here. This is by no way to malign any new chefs and employees, however they must know by now the ill will and vitriol directed towards their endeavor because of past transgressions of the owner of their business.

  3. I agree with the quality of food at Va da Vi…it is a wonderful restaurant. Glad to have a chef of Shane’s caliper in our neighborhood….

  4. While I understand your disdain for the owners, it’s apparent that none you have ever eaten at Va De Vie in Walnut Creek and the amazing food Shane was turning out … So if you are thinking is gonna be just “another tappas ” bar your going to be infor a big surprise…

  5. You guys act like Foley stole your girlfriend in highschool. Shut your grudge holding mouths. The restaurants in Hberg are for the happy tourists and not the crybaby locals. Youre the ones who bring in your wine and get the waiters and restaurants shafted everytime by the way you act. Move to Napa or quit your bitching about a restaraunt that hasnt even opened yet you elitist food critic wannabees.

    1. That sounds right Locals, Healdsburg isn’t for you it’s for fascist money-grubbers to run roughshod over your interests to rake in big cash from ignorant “Tourists”. Thanks for clearing that up Another Jeff.

  6. Replacing Cyrus with a bistro called Chalk Board. Really? Tapas? Sounds like another wine tasting room to me. Should of called it Foley’s Folly!

  7. wow …… never seen so many crying, complaining critics ….. and so “open-minded” too!
    what is that? …… glad all of us in the “Burg” aren’t on this train

      1. “Anyone who uses the term “burg” is obviously not from Healdsburg.” = I lol’d

        I feel the same about morons calling this area “SoCo” to try and make it sounds more hip…We’re just a larger than normal cowtown folks. No matter how many tapas restaurants or “ultra lounges” you throw in…Move along now…

  8. Let me see: Foley is the guy who drove out a Michelin-starred restaurant with an internationally-renowned chef, right? And has realized that finding another one just might be a bit difficult, given his reputation as a landlord. And every single response here to his ‘new concept’ has been negative. Maybe, just maybe, if he crawled on his hands and knees, he might get Chef Doug Keane to re-open Cyrus. On the other hand, Doug’s too intelligent to deal with someone who can’t even operate in his own best interest. I used to drive 100 miles there and back to go to Cyrus. Does Foley really think tapas will get me and my guests to Healdsburg again? If he does, really needs to re-think this decision, because he’s seriously wrong.

    1. Coll story bro. First off you all can pray at the alter of Doug Keane all you want, as you should, but lets put this into a real perspective, If they wanted to keep Cyrus open they would of and they would of put it somewhere else and they would of been welcomed with open arms. they didn’t. They chose not to. Now as all of you complain about how you wont be going and trying the new restaurant, dont lie to yourself. You know you will. You will be in town spending your money pretending you are someone special when you are obviously not. You will walk into that fancy pants hotel that will the initial entrance to the restaurant and oogle all the fancy things in the lobby and wander around like your thinking about staying there, which you probably never will. You will interact with the restaurant and think..maybe i will have one drink. You will enjoy that drink and think…well maybe lets try it just to check it out. You will enjoy it. You will then go and tell all your friends that you tried this great new restaurant where Cyrus use to be and that they gotta try it. You will say “well it’s no Cyrus, but i really enjoyed it.” and you will be right. It wont be Cyrus, that is the point. Foley is not a dumb business man, his bank account proves that. Any opening up a restaurant would never be dumb enough to try and compete with a TWO START MICHELIN RATES RESTAURANT within the same year it closes, especially under “controversial” circumstances.

      just to not make this any longer than it needs to be lets just sum up the rest:

      Your opinion doesn’t matter. You are not special. This restaurant is going to open up and it will be good. You will eat there and spend your money there.

      Dont knock until you try it, or dont try it no one cares. blah blah blah blah blah

  9. Yes, definitely will avoid this and recommend others to do the same. As a healdsburg resident, we do not need yet another tapas and wine bar place.

  10. Been there, done that. Cyrus was very approachable, and yes you needed cash– not a bad thing for the city of Healdsburg. Foley is not a winegrower let alone a restauranteur. I think that the Stark family is doing quite well with Wiilie’s and Bravas with small plates.

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