Guerneville’s Revival Will Be Revived As Pop-Ups

On the cusp of a three-star review, Guerneville's Revival Restaurant shutters for the winter

Interior of Revival Restaurant in Guerneville. Photo Kelly Puleio
Interior of Revival Restaurant in Guerneville. Photo Kelly Puleio

Instead of celebrating a three star review this Sunday, Guerneville’s Revival Restaurant is throwing a pop-up going away party.

Just four months after opening, the critically acclaimed restaurant inside the historic Applewood Inn was unexpectedly shuttered for the winter by the property’s Silicon Valley investors. Restaurateur and managing consultant Crista Luedtke said she got the sad news Wednesday as staff were preparing for Thursday service.

The closure comes as the property undergoes a $1 million renovation and hospitality management change, to be renamed  “The Belden” in 2017. But whether that will include Revival “is  up in the air,” said Luedtke.

“It’s a really special project. I am incredibly proud of what we created,” said Luedtke. She remains hopeful that “something good will come from this”, and looks forward to the revival of Revival in the spring if new owners want to continue the restaurant concept.

Luedtke hopes to continue the Revival concept as a series of pop-up dinners throughout the winter at various locations throughout the county. “Chef Ben Spiegel absolutely has what it takes to really change the way people experience food.  We were doing that at Revival,” she said.

“It’s a tough industry, we choose it because we are passionate about sharing food with people and sharing our story about this community through our food,” she said.

Chef Spiegel echoed the sentiment, saying, “As executive chef, I had the role of building the restaurant, our concept, supplier networks and personnel team with Crista over the last six months. I am totally gutted to hear of the closure. It came as a surprise to me and my staff after months of hard work and positive feedback.”

Adding salt to the already painful wound of the closure, the restaurant was poised to receive a three-star review by San Francisco restaurant critic Michael Bauer this week. The review was pulled, but Bauer wrote an opinion piece lauding the restaurant’s vision and the cuisine of Chef Ben Spiegel, despite the closure.

In a recent profile of the restaurant, The Press Democrat called the cuisine, “A love letter to the fish, fowl and fields of West County, Revival has the potential to redefine farm-to-table and sea-to-table dining in a very real way, not only by serving the food from this unique part of Sonoma County but by weaving a story into every bite.”

“The focus was on sustainability featuring the most local and special products from many of Sonoma County’s small artisan farmers.  It was a way for us to showcase the bounty of what this county has to offer, while paying fair prices to farmers for their commitment to the craft and our community as well,” said Luedtke.

In keeping with that dedication to local farmers and producers, Sunday’s pop-up dinner will utilizing all of the restaurants remaining inventory.

“The chefs are committed to what we have built, which is all about a sustainable restaurant.  They are not willing to let all the food on hand spoil as it would be irresponsible to our mission,” she said.

That’s still cold comfort to a restaurant staff facing the prospect of being out of work during Sonoma County’s slow tourist season.

 “It is coming at a bad time as we approach the winter season in the Greater Russian river community when things naturally slow,” she said. “The business was really strong and numbers were outperforming the prior restaurant in only 4 short months.  Bauer’s review would have been perfectly tied for the winter months,” said Luedtke.

She is working to find seasonal or permanent work for employees within her own businesses, which include Boon Hotel + Spa, Boon Eat + Drink, El Barrio and Big Bottom Market in Guerneville, and leveraging relationships with fellow restaurateurs in the area.

“There are so many opportunities to do good things in our community, and I am constantly inspired by the people I get to work with, and those working for me.  A revival means to take something new and improve upon it, and we did just that. Good things are already coming  out of this, its all in how you look at it,” said Luedtke, whose Big Bottom Market, ironically,  recently got a nod from Oprah Winfrey, rocketing their biscuit mix to celebrity status.

“I don’t give up on anything,” she added.

The Revival Pop-Up happens Sunday, with a reservation only pre-fixe tasting menu with 2 seatings: at 5pm and 7:30pm, $75 per person. The dinner will showcase local farmers and purveyors, with staff working for gratuities.  Details and reservations here.