By Elena Kadvany
Santa Barbara restauranteurs take leap to Palo AltoUploaded: Jan 15, 2015
A husband-and-wife team that gained local fame for their culinary and physical revamp of a historic restaurant in Santa Barbara wine country is turning their eyes north, with plans to open a restaurant in downtown Palo Alto this summer.
Chef Robbie Wilson and his wife, Emily Perry Wilson, of Mattei's Tavern in Los Olivos, have, interestingly enough, partnered with Chamath Palihapitiya and Brigette Lau, a Silicon Valley power couple (they're behind The Social+Capital Partnership, a venture capital firm based in Palo Alto) to open the restaurant at 420 Ramona St., the longtime home of Mandarin Gourmet. Mandarin Gourmet closed its doors in October after more than 20 years of business. The two couples were introduced in late 2013 by Charles Banks, a Southern California investor and partner on the Mattei's Tavern revamp.
"They really 'got it,'" Emily Wilson said of Palihapitiya and Lau. "It's the type of restaurant that we would all want to frequent, several times per week. The more we discussed it, the more it became evident that it would be a superb fit for Palo Alto."
Emily said her husband has been developing the concept for this restaurant for several years, though she's a bit cagey when it comes to details.
"Without disclosing too much at this juncture, I can tell you it will be reflective of Robbie's culinary history (Nobu, Craft [New York, extensive travel)," she wrote in an email. "It's also a celebration of simple ingredients, and will be a partnership with the finest ranchers, farmers and artisans."
Robbie Wilson's culinary training took place in France. As noted above, he has since worked in many renowned kitchens, including The French Laundry in Napa. In 2013, the Wilsons and the Banks restored the 1886 building that housed Mattei's Tavern and reopened with a modern, seasonal menu that draws on the bounty of the Santa Ynez Valley. ("Essentially, the Valley is the menu," the restaurant website reads.)
The Palo Alto restaurant will be called B+B (no answer yet on what that stands for). The team is planning an extensive renovation for the 4,400-square-foot space with a goal of opening this summer, Emily said.