Back in June we learned that long-dead Fagiani’s Bar, in the heart of downtown Napa on Main Street, facing the river, was finally going to get the makeover it deserved at the hands of New York-based AvroKO Hospitality Group. It’s called The Thomas now, with the downstairs bar retaining the Fagiani’s name and the historic neon sign. And these New Yorkers, along with an army of local contractors, made fast work of the renovation at the space, adding a whole third story dining area and roof deck, and outfitting the original two-level space with a brand new kitchen and fully refurbished bar, all in about eight weeks. They had a grand opening party last night, after a couple of weeks of soft opening, and chef Brad Farmerie (who earned a Michelin star at NYC’s Public) offered up a sampling of his nuanced American menu, and gave us a tour of the handsome new bar and restaurant that feels like it’s been there forever — well, it sort of has.
Opened originally in 1909 as The Thomas, the building began life as a restaurant and boarding house along Napa’s main drag, ultimately being turned into a working-man’s watering hole by Nick Fagiani, who took it over in 1945. His daughters, Muriel Fagiani and Anita Andrews, inherited the bar when he died in 1969, when they were both in their forties. Five years later, Anita met her end in the back room in a murder that shocked the community and remained unsolved for 36 years, until 2010, using DNA evidence. With the case finally settled and a likely suspect already behind bars for another crime, the family could move on and let go of the building.
While parts of the bar and the barstools, as well as the hardwood floors on the main two levels, are all original, much of the historic character in the space has been added via other salvaged materials — antique café chairs, an ornate, oak-columned vintage back bar, a pressed aluminum ceiling, and an antique water bubbler from a nearby school, for instance. AvroKo’s design expertise shows in each detail. It’s a bar that feels worn in, yet it’s also a new space even for anyone who remembers the old Fagiani’s.
A cocktail list from bar manager Jim Wrigley (a UK native whose previous experience includes Albannach in Trafalgar Square and the Lonsdale in Notting Hill) and a limited bar menu will be served in the warm and inviting downstairs bar, while the full menu is served in the second floor dining room — adjacent to the new, white-tiled open kitchen with its grand archway — and on the rooftop terrace, which is partially covered with its own separate bar. A staff member told us that they’ve already had to turn away a number of locals who, upon seeing the new terrace from the street, want to come in and have drinks up there — it is strictly a dining area, and the restaurant needs the extra seating, so unfortunately rooftop cocktailing is not an option without getting a table, and some dinner.
Check out our slideshow to see the full spread they put out, and the extensive renovation.
The Thomas and Fagiani’s Bar - 813 Main Street, Napa - 707.226.7821 - Open seven days for dinner and weekend brunch, with the bar open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Lunch to come.
Earlier: The Thomas Opens August 8th in Napa, Complete With Historic Fagiani’s Sign
Downtown Napa’s Fagiani’s to Reopen in August After 38 Years
Fagiani’s murder: A sigh of relief … after 36 years [Napa Valley Register]