Chef Dustin Valette’s New Healdsburg Restaurant Coming Into View

The three-story space on the Healdsburg Plaza will include an upscale dining room, a bar and an 88-bottle self-serve wine wall on the first floor.

It takes some imagination (and an architect’s drawing) to fully appreciate the vision Chef Dustin Valette has for his soon-to-be-completed new restaurant concept, The Matheson, but it is certainly coming together in a spectacular way.

From the soaring ceilings that invoke wine-barrel staves to the still-wrapped Mugniani pizza oven and still-under-construction open kitchen where Valette and Ken Tominaga (of Hana Japanese Restaurant) will cook, it is the Healdsburg native’s dream project come to life.

The three-story space on the Healdsburg Plaza will include an upscale dining room, a bar and an 88-bottle self-serve wine wall on the first floor (similar to the Barlow’s Region). A small mezzanine is prime real estate for its view of the dining room. The upper level, Roof 106, is a casual, lounge-y indoor-outdoor area with a second bar, pizza oven and patio.

Though there was some initial push back over the size of The Matheson when it was first proposed, capacity is spread throughout the building, with about 85 seats in the dining room (at 100% capacity) and 42 on the rooftop patio.

But it is the almost childlike glee that Valette expresses about each tiny detail — the Hestan range in Matador red, the hexagonal tiles that match the bee theme upstairs — that makes even a hard-hat tour fun.

Like Valette’s namesake Healdsburg restaurant, The Matheson has a family history as one of the bakery spaces once used by his immigrant great-grandfather.

“We wanted to keep this place and make it live on. This is so much bigger than me. The Matheson is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something bigger than yourself,” Valette said.

With plans to use small artisan producers like Lou Preston, Valette said the space will tell a story.

“This is the evolution of Healdsburg. It’s something we need right now. I hope people will come and get excited about Wine Country again,” he said.

The Matheson, at 106 Matheson St., in Healdsburg, is slated to open in late spring.

Hot Chix Coming to Santa Rosa: The Union Hotel on Mission in Santa Rosa is launching a Nashville-style fried chicken pop-up starting March 1, available for pickup and delivery only.

Owner Daniel Gonnella was inspired to create a California-meets-Tennessee fried chicken sandwich with five levels of heat — mild, medium, hot and Call Yo’ Mama, considered “too hot for the sober gentleman,” according to Gonnella.

They’ll also have chicken tenders, a whole fried chicken, mac and cheese, crinkle-cut fries, coleslaw, baked beans and cornbread, along with waffle strips with maple-Bourbon dipping sauce (now there’s a breakfast of champions).

How’s the sandwich? You’ll never eat at Chick-fil-A again. Franco American bun, coleslaw, fresh pickles and crispy fried chicken with just a little burn (medium) and a whole lot of sass — mine didn’t make it home. Details at