Under one roof
By DIANE PETERSON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Healdsburg’s Shed, scheduled to open in March after almost a year of construction, will offer a cafe, marketplace and events center, all under one roof.
To get an idea of its scope, imagine retail icon Williams-Sonoma rubbing shoulders with the Chez Panisse Cafe, while Smith & Hawken digs into the compost pile with Dean & DeLuca.
“Doug and I wanted to do a project that illustrated the beauty and aliveness of producing food … growing, preparing and enjoying it,” said Cindy Daniel, who is building the 9,800-square-foot building on North Street with her husband, Doug Lipton.
The couple has been living in the Dry Creek Valley since 1994, where they raised two sons and planted a 15-acre, biodynamic farm with fruit trees and vegetables, grapes and olives.
“We see Shed as a way to celebrate the land and the people who grow things,” said Lipton, who will oversee Shed’s on-site composting program. “The workshops and events will let us connect to the community.”
Made of recycled steel panels, the building was designed by Jensen Architects and constructed by Oliver and Company. It gives a nod to Healdsburg’s agricultural past while looking ahead, with its clean lines, to a modern future.
But under its sleek glass and recycled-steel exterior, Shed’s heart beats with the spirit of an old-fashioned grange hall, where farmers and enthusiasts alike can gather for Sunday suppers, environmental films and workshops.
“Education is a huge part of our mission,” Daniel said. “We’ll have classes that focus on farming or cooking, like how to taste olive oils or raise backyard chickens.”
Standing outside the two-story building on a chilly winter afternoon, the couple described their vision, starting at the front door.
“At street level, we want it to be lively,” Daniel said, pointing to the North Street entrance. “There will be an outdoor sink for flowers, and work tables right in front. There will be a big, long table for dining, and a tiny shed for plant sales.”
Designed for both indoor and outdoor use, the building features big, glass doors that can roll up, like garage doors, for an al fresco feeling.
A coffee bar serving espresso drinks and an ice cream counter will greet visitors in the front.
Farther back, you can belly up to the “fermentation bar,” where 21 taps will pour red and white wines, craft beers and hard ciders, kombucha and natural sodas.
Diners can walk up and order at the cafe, where Culinary Director Niki Ford plans to serve a breakfast menu of eggs from the wood-fired oven and waffles with seasonal toppings. Lunch will feature flatbreads and salad plates made from whole grains like farro and bulgur.
“The chef is inspired by the Middle East and India, but she’s trained in French cuisine,” Daniel said of Ford, who spent six years working at Chez Panisse in Berkeley.
In the pantry area, local produce will be displayed in a cooler and home cooks can pick up specialty items like smoked fish and salted capers, anchovies and homemade stocks, Liberty duck breasts and local eggs.
A wooden mill from Austria will grind wheat from local farms and corn for flour, meal and polenta.
Daniel, who is in charge of the look and feel of the building, is curating all the retail products, from hand-thrown crocks for fermenting to hand-forged tools for gardening.
“The retail area will have seeds and tools and compost teas,” she said. “It won’t be a full shop for a farmer, but we’ve asked farmers what they need.”
Shed will also carry functional housewares like canning equipment and cast-iron pots, European clayware and handmade tortilla presses.
The couple will sell their own line of Shed vinegars and preserves, made from produce from their farm.
“We want to do as many bulk things as we can,” Daniel said. “We’ll have maybe eight olives oils.”
Upstairs, there’s a large, open hall, a full kitchen and a terrace where all kinds of community events, dinners, concerts and lectures can be held.
“We feel like the real genesis came from living here and having our farm,” Daniel said. “It really is to serve the community, and we hope it shows who the town is.”
You can reach Staff Writer Diane Peterson at 521-5287 or firstname.lastname@example.org.