Sonoma Sausage Emporium now open.
Local restaurateur Miranda Ives describes the past 18 months as “brutal.” She and her mother, Linda Welch, signed a lease to take over the former Kane menswear space on East Napa Street and planned to move and expand their little El Paseo Alley sausage spot, Hare and Hatter, into the new larger, more prominent Plaza space to be called Sausage Emporium by the end of 2020.
Construction delays were expected. The pandemic was not. While they kept busy completely revamping the 1,250-square-foot space, the weeks turned into months, a year and more. While other restaurants could open outdoors, the original plans called for only a handful of sidewalk seats.
As their grand opening day finally neared, their chef died unexpectedly.
Ives and Welch grieved the loss of their friend and scrambled to find a new chef. With their opening date again delayed, they had time to finish a new, unplanned element to the space — a private back patio that replaced some unused parking spots.
Sonoma architect Michael Ross was responsible for the overall design but Ives with some help from her husband, David O’Comain, designed the chic, comfortable outdoor space, with a modern color scheme of grey, black and brown wood and leather.
The café offers a range of brunch items, sandwiches, salads and snacks priced from $12-$15 with cheese and charcuterie boards to be added in the weeks ahead. The bar serves local draught and bottled beers, local wines and sparkling cocktails, while beer flights are in the works. A small retail area offers sausages as well as other artisan products.
“We feel we’re filling a unique gap in Sonoma providing a stylish spot that offers casual food,” said Ives. “People can grab a table or a seat at the bar and just have a quick drink or a coffee.”
Now that they are finally open, Ives looks back at the past two years with a kind of zen. She laughs wryly when she describes the café as her daughter’s “college fund.”
Ives knew what she was getting into, however. She grew up in the restaurant business in Sonoma. Welch owned and was the head chef at Pascale’s, a partner in Cafe Pilou, and has been by Ives’ side throughout her career.
Ives’ first incursion in Sonoma, with Welch, was an upscale coffee bar and gourmet hot dog cart inside Friedman’s Home Improvement. Their first brick and mortar foray, Hare and Hatter, operated in the El Paseo Alley from early 2018 to mid-2019.