Lowell’s in Sebastopol to Close After 12 Years

The iconic restaurant helped define modern farm-to-table cuisine in Sonoma County.

One of Sonoma County’s most iconic farm-to-table restaurants will close this month after 12 years of service. Lowell’s, once known as Peter Lowell’s, will serve its last meal on Oct. 14, according to owner Lowell Sheldon.

“It’s going to be a good evolution for my life,” said Sheldon. He said that he and his former partner Natalie Goble, looked at the businesses over the last year to see what kind of relevance it still held in the community and their lives.

“As the owner of the business, it has to reflect what’s going on in my life. With having two kids…the way this business worked it wasn’t possible given my current priorities. Sebastopol is changing and has different offerings,” said Sheldon.

With the opening of Handline in 2016 and Fernbar in late 2018, Sheldon’s plate has been full.

Lowell Sheldon with partner Natalie Goble.
Lowell Sheldon with former partner Natalie Goble.

“Since Handline opened, we knew it would impact the business. We didn’t know how much or for how long, we didn’t know what it would look,” said Sheldon. With a family-friendly fast-casual concept, lower price point, modern design and sustainable focus, Handline has been wildly successful, while Lowell’s has seen a decline in diners over the last year.

It’s a bittersweet moment for Sheldon, who announced that he’s planning to turn over the space to Ramen Gaijin’s Matthew Williams and Moishe Hahn-Schuman. Williams confirmed that he’s looking into a new project but is not ready to speak publicly about it yet.

When it opened in 2007 Sebastopol’s Peter Lowell’s was radical even for Sonoma County. With a focus on produce grown on their own farm and a mostly vegetarian menu, it reflected a place and a time in West County. Over the years, that point of view evolved, launching Chef Daniel Kedan (now of Backyard) onto the local scene and including a variety of carefully-sourced meats and regional Italian cuisine.

Lowell and Chef Daniel Kedan. Heather Irwin/PD
Lowell and Chef Daniel Kedan. Heather Irwin/PD

Owner Lowell Sheldon bravely took on the idea of including a 20 percent service charge to offer employees a living wage, which was met with pushback despite it now becoming more common.

“After service on Monday, October 14th, we are ending what has been the fantastic journey of Lowell’s Restaurant. The fire in my heart burns bright with gratitude for the moments I have shared with each of you. It was at this restaurant that I learned what it means to combine of love for something with the work it takes to sustain it. It was at this restaurant that I met one of the great partners of my life, Natalie Goble, with whom I share two beautiful boys. It was at this restaurant that I learned what it means to fail, to wake up renewed, and to start once again with the belief that I may succeed,” said Lowell in an email to fans of the restaurant on Oct. 2.

Sheldon said that the current challenging in hiring restaurant workers hasn’t been an issue for the restaurant, though with increased minimum wages, it has been difficult.

With his young children chattering in the background as he talked by phone, Sheldon seems ready to move forward.

“There’s sadness in me, but I’ve worked through it and I’m excited,” he said.