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2016 BEST Business Restaurant: John Ash & Co.

Author: Stephanie Derammelaere
May, 2016 Issue

"We truly believe in respecting people's privacy and space and giving them the best possible service." —Percy Brandon


“Very inviting, private and respectful.” That’s how Percy Brandon, general manager of John Ash & Co. (and Vintners Inn) describes the environment at both the restaurant and the hotel, making it the perfect environment for both business and pleasure. John Ash & Co. was voted this year’s Best restaurant for business entertaining by NorthBay biz readers, but also won the Press Democrat’s Best Restaurant for a Romantic Meal in 2015.

“We have a special place,” says Brandon. “It’s a big restaurant, sitting next to the vineyards, but it’s also a place where you don’t feel crowded. You have your space and you feel very well taken care of. When you’re talking business, it’s extremely important that you have space so you can conduct your business privately and, at the same time, have a good time. We truly believe in respecting people’s privacy and space and giving them the best possible service.”

Situated overlooking its own 98 acres of vineyards in the Russian River Valley, John Ash & Co. was the first Sonoma County restaurant 36 years ago to introduce the concept of cooking with seasonal, locally sourced foods and produce while pairing exceptional recipes with wines from the region. Today, the restaurant, now owned by Don and Rhonda Carano, remains an icon for gourmet Wine Country dining with Executive Chef Thomas Schmidt’s inspired cuisine changing seasonally to take advantage of the abundant locally grown fresh foods. Schmidt and his team work personally with more than 30 Sonoma County farmers and food producers to secure the best and freshest ingredients for their menus. Schmidt also oversees the restaurant’s own onsite fruit, vegetable and herb gardens.

With the plethora of excellent dining options in the North Bay, what’s made John Ash & Co. stand out above the rest? Brandon thinks the high level of excellent customer service is a major factor that sets it apart from the crowd.

“We’re king at hospitality,” says Brandon. “We take excellent care of our guests and exceed their expectations, bottom line. What’s key for all of us is to be one step ahead and anticipate our customer’s needs and get them to enjoy themselves and celebrate.”

Like Vintners Inn, the restaurant prides itself on working closely with the community, sponsoring many events both on- and off-site and participating in many of the fund-raising events throughout the county. In 2015, Schmidt won the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man of the Year campaign, an annual nationwide 10-week fund-raising competition that raises money for blood cancer research, patient services and advocacy. He raised $130,000 for the cause.

The restaurant is also one of the sponsors of “Wishes in Wine Country,” an event benefiting children with life-threatening medical conditions, as well as “The Art of Dessert” an annual event that benefits the arts and education programs at Luther Burbank Center for the Arts.


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