Longtime Sonoma Restaurateurs Take Over Mint & Liberty

The new restaurant has a full bar license, meaning cocktails and spirits will be a part of the new lineup.

The polarizing mint-colored exterior paint of the short-lived Mint & Liberty cafe in Sonoma is about to be a thing of the past. Under the new ownership of the Chavez family, the restaurant will get a new lease on life  — as well as a new paint job — as Picazo Kitchen and Bar, opening April 1 in the Maxwell Village shopping center just outside of downtown Sonoma.

Exactly what color is still being decided, but “it will definitely be more Picazo-ish,” says Sal Jr., referring to the bustling Picazo Cafe on Arnold Drive he has operated with his family for more than a decade.

They’ll be bringing their signature burgers, salads, sandos and bowls over to the new space, but it’s a foray into dinner, a full cocktail bar and even a late night menu that has the new owners really excited.

Sal’s wife, Kina Chavez, who has managed Picazo Cafe for the last several years, will also take the reins of the new eatery. She’s working on an evening menu that includes specialty dishes like Maria’s Chicken Mole (a recipe from her mother), steak and chimichurri, Picazo Ramen Noodles as well as their breakfast chilaquiles. Sweets from Sal Sr., which are a Picazo mainstay, will also make an appearance on the dessert menu.

“There are a lot of items on the dinner menu that are new and fun, but we’re still trying to cook in our own way. That ideology will persist,” said Sal Jr.

“The pressure and demand of us doing dinner has been consistent for two years,” said Sal Jr., of the limited breakfast and lunch hours of the Picazo Cafe on Arnold Drive. “We always contemplated it,” he said, so when the opportunity to take over the Mint & Liberty location came up, the couple quickly grabbed the space.

“Kina’s in the driver’s seat,” said Chavez. She’ll be working with their existing kitchen manager, Jose Ruiz, on some new menu items. Ruiz, ironically, used to work at Mint & Liberty and its earlier iteration, Breakaway Cafe, in the evenings after doing his shift at Picazo, so he’s familiar with the kitchen, Chavez said.

The new restaurant has a full bar license, meaning cocktails and spirits will be a part of the new lineup as well.

“The space is so loungy and super welcoming,” said Chavez. “I can’t imagine a better setting for some wine and cocktails or late night dates for Sonoma. We’re gonna have some fun.”

Kathleen Hill of our sister newspaper, the Sonoma Index-Tribune, first reported this story. Click here for her article.