Dustin Valette Plans to Open Two New Healdsburg Restaurants

The project has been hush-hush for more than a year. Here’s what we know.

Details are finally emerging about The Matheson, an ambitious two-restaurant project on the Healdsburg Plaza from Chef Dustin Valette. The 231-seat restaurant and retail space will be co-developed by Valette’s business partner and brother Aaron Garzini and tech executive Craig Ramsey.

A rendering of the parking lot and rear of the Matheson building

The project has been hush-hush for more than a year after Ramsey purchased the property from longtime owner John Holt. That, of course, led to plenty of speculation.

Here’s what we know:

    • Copperfield’s book store and Plaza Gourmet kitchen shop, which are currently housed in the building, will remain. A fabric store has gone out of business and Valette has offered $25,000 to help another business relocate.
    • The coveted 43-space parking lot behind 106 Matheson will be for the exclusive use of the restaurant and retail patrons not, as was rumored, for another hotel project.
    • Renderings for the historic building include a mixed commercial space with a 98-seat restaurant called ‘The Matheson’ on the main floor and an al fresco dining experience on the rooftop called Roof 106. A mezzanine level will have overflow seating during busy summer and fall seasons.
Historic photos of the location.
    • The Matheson will be a family-friendly affair with a price point to match according to Valette. Explaining his vision, Valette says: “The Matheson will be a social gathering place for everyone in Healdsburg, locals and visitors alike, to share the beauty that we call home. There will be a focus on the art of the craft, the doers and makers of Healdsburg and Sonoma County.”
Historic photo of downtown Healdsburg
  • The ground floor restaurant will have a dining room, bar area, and private back room. Roof 106 will have quick bites and European-inspired cuisine cooked in a Mugnaini Wood Fired Oven. 
  • Extensive landscaping around the building and parking lot, new bike racks in the parking area, drainage improvements, repaving, updated trash enclosures, new lighting and the creation of a fire lane are planned.

Not everyone is excited, however. After years of construction, most notably the delay-stricken roundabout and several large hotel projects, some local residents are concerned about yet another large construction project. At a Planning Commission meeting in December, some expressed ire about the size, scope and price point of the restaurant. The Matheson’s lead architects, according to a report in Sonoma West, submitted several alternative designs to appease critics.

“Some ask why this isn’t located somewhere else in Healdsburg. It is intended and designed as a casual restaurant that will add to the beauty and charm of our Plaza,” said Valette. “People will walk to other establishments, maintaining the European standard of walking and creating a sense of community. The economic model is to be casual and affordable, designed to be a natural extension of the Healdsburg Plaza.”

Front of Copperfields where the Matheson is slated to be built.

The address has special meaning for Valette whose great-grandfather Honore operated a bakery in the space 100 years ago. The family relocated the bakery to 344 Center St. in subsequent years, where Valette opened his eponymous restaurant in 2015.

“There will be no change to the Plaza, other than the restoration and refurbishment of the facade, there will be no change to the Matheson street side of the building and no change in how a pedestrian would experience walking on this block of Matheson. The new restaurant respects the Plaza and the community by setting the new addition to the building back from the street level. The new addition is designed with a fresh and unifying theme that blends well with the adjacent architecture,” said Valette.

If you’re wondering about the name, it’s an ode to General Colonel Roderick Matheson, a Civil War hero, activist, close friend and confidante of President Abraham Lincoln, commissioner to Mexico and Healdsburg schoolteacher. The restaurant will pay homage to this founding father.

Full details about the project, including renderings, are available at thematheson.com and Valette hopes to gain support for the project before the next public hearing is Feb. 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Healdsburg’s City Hall.


13 thoughts on “Dustin Valette Plans to Open Two New Healdsburg Restaurants

  1. I think this is a great and well thought out concept by two very talented people. Some of you think they will go out of business!! Have you eaten at Vallette’s current restaurant? This is a very talented Chef!! The history of the family being in both locations in the past is a great story in itself and rooftop dinning overlooking the square? Brilliant! My only concern is how they get down in a fire. We have had a few of those lately. They must have ladders off the side of the building or something. Nevertheless, you will find me up there with a beer in my hand on a nice day listening to music from the square and having some fresh Ceviche. Oh yeah!!

  2. Did you people not read this? “The economic model is to be casual and affordable…” This is designed for YOU. Why don’t you just give this talented chef a chance? I’ve never heard of anything about Valette that would make his word unworthy. It’s unfair of some of you complainers to cry foul because you think the way the town has blossomed is just right in your mind. There was a time when you wanted more and you got your way then.

    1. Read it several time. However, do you remember when the DT establishments were affordable to the locals? I do, however, when the many if not most of the restaurants, local bars, and other restaurant/liquor establishments became so over priced, I and other locals stopped patronizing them. DT Healdsburg and the surrounding areas have become meccas for not the locals, but for the wealthy from out of town. And we’ve seen what happened to Sonoma.

      As for “wanted more,” not once did I ever envision this is what Healdsburg would turn into, not once! There was a time when you could sit in the Plaza and watch sunsets to the west, but alas, that damn hotel now blocks the view!

      And lastly, if you look at the current median price for a home in Healdsburg, it is

      over $1,000,000!



      1. Lots of good points. I hope you already own a home nearby as locals have greatly benefitted from their home values going up. With prop 13, not a huge increase in property taxes either. I remember rents being much higher in Healdsburg than Sonoma county over 25 years ago…even before that hotel blocked the sunset.

  3. ENOUGH! The “once” quaint and affordable town of Healdsburg has seen and endured enough of this pricy gentrification, and all of you who look to increase the prices thus driving out the locals that are left, should stay away. Go somewhere else with your overpriced ideas, so please;

    Keep the Country COUNTRY!

    1. The answer is pretty simple……………if you and other “locals” don’t like the “pricey gentrification” all you have to do is buy the buildings and keep them empty so prices won’t increase and the “locals” won’t be driven out.

    2. I agree. A certain level of gentrification makes things pretty and nice, but there is a point at which it becomes obscene. This development is not what Healdsburg needs.

  4. This all sounds great to me! Enough with the negativity and NIMBYism. I, for one, welcome this new restaurant with open arms.

  5. Never heard of this guy. I wish him well, but that side of the plaza has had failure after failure with restaurants. We eat at the Mexican Restaurants in Healdsburg and spend less than $30 for two of us. I doubt this place will even have an entrée for that. Good luck!

  6. Downtown Healdsburg is already a mess. This won’t make it much worse (another hotel will), but I believe this will result in another restaurant or two to bite the dust by the time 2020 rolls around.

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