Adel’s Restaurant, opened 34 years ago and as such perhaps the oldest continuously operated restaurant in Healdsburg, closed its doors for the last time on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 29.
The diner on Dry Creek Road just off the Highway 101 off-ramp has been a popular stop for long-distance drivers and local diners alike since it opened in 1989. Its traditional menu included big breakfasts, big burgers, skillets and salads. The leatherette booths and long Formica counter were familiar from coast to coast under different marquees.
It was a reassuring setting, and the crowd that showed on its final Sunday came to share in the farwell. “I couldn’t let you leave without saying goodbye,” said one independent contractor sidling onto a counter stool. The booths were filled with families likewise saying goodbye with one last breakfast.
The current manager, Danny Ibrahim, is related to Adel Ibrahim, who started the restaurant and two others with the same name, in Santa Rosa and Eureka. A Eureka Adel’s is still open, while the Santa Rosa Adel’s—at Mendocino and College—became Café Mimosa a couple years ago.
Rumors of the pending closure have been floated for weeks, with an ad listed on the commercial real estate LoopNet detailing the space available. A 3,221-square-foot space with a fully equipped restaurant ready to reopen servicing a 3-star hotel, the Dry Creek Inn next door. A “turnkey restaurant…in lovely Healdsburg.”
It wouldn’t be the first time the business has sold. It opened in 1984 as Mrs. G’s, and though the footprint has been expanded and the interior much remodeled, the business model for such restaurants is vulnerable to the decline in visitors to Healdsburg.
“People used to come to Healdsburg by the thousands, but no more,” said Ibrahim. “The restaurant business is nothing now. It’s one headache after another”—he listed the cost of food, labor, utilities and the leaser’s request that he stay open longer to service the early-dinner crowd from the hotel. Though Ibrahim said the restaurant used to hold those hours, it doesn’t pencil out now.
The property is listed as a five-year lease for $37.20 a square foot per year. That comes out to almost $120,000 a year, $10,000 a month. A pretty price to pay even in lovely Healdsburg.
Ibrahim had been negotiating with the owner for several weeks, but with less than a week to go no agreement was reached. The restaurant lease comes complete with furniture and all kitchen equipment, “wonderfully maintained” according to the listing.
While Ibrahim intends to take a year off and may return to the restaurant business, he’s leaving his options open. “One door closes, and another one opens,” he said with a smile.
Neither do the employees seem too worried about the end of Adel’s. Some of them expect to return to work in the same location as soon as the new year, for a new boss.
Also in Flux
Across town, at a prime location on the Healdsburg Plaza, another long-standing institution this week closed its doors for the last time. The Oakville Grocery ended its 26-year run at close of business on Sunday, Nov. 26, along with the Wine Merchant shop next door.
At one time there were five Oakville Groceries in the Bay Area, but now only the original remains at the Napa Valley crossroads known as Oakville. Jean-Charles Boisset purchased the groceries to add to his lifestyle portfolio in 2019, along with his Sonoma and Napa county wineries.
But the acorn didn’t fall far from the tree. Before the week was out it became locally known that the new tenant would be related to Black Oak Coffee, a Ukiah-based roastery that already has a Healdsburg location at 324 Center Street. The roastery plans a separate menu, brand and concept for a breakfast-lunch restaurant and has applied for a beverage license with the ABC. Evidently, the southeast corner of Matheson and Center won’t be empty for long.
That’s a different story than what happened east of town on Highway 128, where the landmark Jimtown Store closed in 2019. Though owner Carrie Brown has run occasional barn sales (and given her eclectic tastes, they attracted what one could call celebrity pickers), the diner, gift shop and waystation for cyclists and other Alexander Valley travelers has been closed for almost four years.
A few weeks ago, Sonoma Magazine reported that Michelle Wood, the owner of Dim Sum and Then Sum catering, hoped to purchase the property.
“First of all, it’s a pending sale, it’s not a done deal,” said Brown in mid-November when corralled at Little Saint. “I did not want to say anything about it until it was a done deal. … but no comment except we really hope this happens. She’s going to do her own thing.”
The Asian influence will also soon be felt in downtown Healdsburg. Sushi by Scratch will open as a small, exclusive restaurant in the back of the Matheson, where Taverna Sofia was several years ago.
Scratch Restaurants signed on the dotted line to open an “omakase” sushi restaurant, which means the customers let the chef determine the menu. Opening night is slated for this weekend, with the table set for a 10-seat, 17-course omakase feast, according to the North Bay Business Journal.
The intimate restaurant will be available for reservations starting Dec. 1 at the online reservation service Tock. The Matheson has its own sushi bar which will continue for the time being, said co-owner and chef Dustin Valette, though they may limit this service as Scratch develops.
Scratch has nine other restaurants nationally, several of them Michelin Star recipients. Its location under the roof of The Matheson—itself a Michelin-noticed restaurant—enhances the opportunities for fine dining in Destination Healdsburg.