David Tanis Reminisces About Chez Panisse’s Destroyed Porch

The area behind the windows is what Tanis is talking about.
The area behind the windows is what Tanis is talking about. Photo: Getty Images

As you’ve certainly heard by now, Chez Panisse suffered a minor fire early this morning, and while no one was hurt and the majority of the main dining room and upstairs café were undamaged, what was destroyed was the bay-windowed “porch,” an enclosed front area to the restaurant that was generally reserved for regulars and VIPs. David Tanis writes in the Times about the loss of “the last remaining portion of the original remodel of the former apartment building that was to become Chez Panisse over 40 years ago.” He recalls the work done by local artisan Kip Mesirow and “a motley crew of carpenters” to create the space, which became a spot for staff meetings and “a glorious spot to observe the dramatic West Coast sunsets.” He adds that he’s sure Alice will rebuild the porch, and perhaps make it more practical than it was — she’s also already suggested that she’ll be able to put more seats in the coveted space, which had only sat eight to ten before. But, Tanis laments, “it will never again have the charming architectural mix of Arts and Crafts, Art Deco and Swiss Chalet.” The upstairs café is expected to reopen soon, and for now, the downstairs restaurant is canceling all reservations through March 23. [NYT]