When the funeral parade for Healdsburg’s Campo Fina restaurant marched past Jonny Barr last October, the former SingleThread general manager instantly knew he had to revive it.
Long considered part of the town’s tight-knit social scene, the casual Italian restaurant was an after-work hangout for restaurant workers, winemakers and locals.
Worried that Chef Ari Rosen’s shuttered space at 330 Healdsburg Ave. would languish like many other closed restaurants throughout Sonoma County, Barr quickly raised capital to take over the lease last December.
After some spring remodeling, he hopes to reopen in May as Molti Amici — roughly translated from Italian as “many friends.”
“When Campo closed, something clicked, and I knew I had to bring it back,’’ Barr said. “I needed to make sure the space went to a restaurateur who really cared about our community. I want to bring new life to the space, to pay respect to what was, and to embrace what can be.”
As the new owner, he plans to bring back the wood-fired pizzas, pasta and fiercely competitive games of bocce on the outdoor patio, but most importantly, the sense of kinship Rosen fostered at the restaurant.
“Campo Fina sat at the center of town, and everyone would go there for lunch and dinner,” he said. “Every time you were there, you’d walk past three or four tables of people you knew. It would take 15 minutes to get to your table because you would get caught up in conversation.”
When Rosen closed the restaurant Oct. 1, he cited the space’s rent doubling, a labor shortage and a lack of housing for restaurant staff.
“We are aware of the challenges that our industry faces, be it high rent or lack of workforce, and we’re embracing the challenge,” Barr said.
Barr has hired his former SingleThread co-workers, Sean McGaughey and Melissa Yanc, to anchor the kitchen as co-executive chefs. The couple owns the buzzy Quail & Condor Bakery and Troubadour Bread. McGaughey also has a French dinner program several nights a week called Le Diner.
“The whole thing was a leap of faith,” Barr said.
The trio joins several other SingleThread alums who have gone on from the Michelin-starred restaurant to other culinary projects.
Barr is quick to point out that the restaurant won’t be a grab for Michelin stars. He hopes to keep the menu simple and seasonal, focusing on the community.
Barr, who is also a sommelier, will curate the wine program. The 115-seat Molti Amici will also have a full bar.
“It just means the world to me to bring the space back for so many people who cherish it. I shot for the moon,” he said.