Percy Brandon, general manager of John Ash & Co. & Vintners Inn, celebrates the 20th Best Of win for the restaurant. “It’s the best setting to do business if you want to impress guests,” he says. And he’s right. The dimly lit restaurant is delicately decorated with tile, wrought iron, high-end Dom Perignon magnums and perfectly polished glassware throughout. It’s both private and open, with vineyard views and indoor-outdoor seating.
Located on River Road since 1986, the free-standing restaurant on the Vintners Inn property began with John Ash, the father of Wine Country cuisine, who was the chef. The focus was, and still is, fine dining, and locally sourced food that pairs well with wine. In fact, 90 percent of the wine featured on the menu at John Ash & Co. is Sonoma County wine. Today, Tom Schmidt is the executive chef, in his 10th year with the restaurant, and Rhonda Carano is the owner, overseeing operations and design throughout the property. “We’ve never stopped being connected with Chef John Ash,” says Brandon. “We help him with events and still maintain a family relationship.”
What makes the restaurant great for business? “The restaurant gives you the opportunity to choose a casual or fine dining option,” Brandon explains. The front room features a bar and lounge, where guests can enjoy small plates and cocktails The bar is also recognized as having one of the best happy hours in Sonoma County. “It invites the after work get-togethers, or a place for quick business,” says Brandon. He also notes that the restaurant has a large following from business women in the community. “It’s a safe, private environment—not a pickup bar. That’s the respect angle we built and you can feel it.”
During the October fires, the restaurant was closed for almost two weeks. Of the 13 nearby eateries that were destroyed, John Ash & Co. was unaffected. “We had to work with our networks to get guests back into the restaurant,” Brandon explains. And thanks to their loyal clientele, the restaurant is back on its feet and better than ever.
Want to share the tastes of John Ash & Co. with your friends or clients off-property? The restaurant can come to you and cater for up to 500 people. For four years now, the restaurant has offered the catering service, bringing the executive chef to weddings and events throughout the county.
They’re also pleased to announce the opening of Vi La Vita Spa at Vintners Inn due to open in late August, which will feature John Ash & Co. spa cuisine. “It will be creative, light affair, healthy dishes and lots of bubbles,” says Brandon, which their loyal customers are sure to indulge in.
“Thanks to our customers and NorthBay biz readers. We know where our relationship is with our guests. We know what their likes are, and we deliver that,” says Brandon. “I’ve been here 18 years and am still having fun, like it was just yesterday when I started,” Brandon says of his adventurous role at John Ash & Co. “The adventures have always been my favorite, and I can’t wait to see which ones we have in store here in the future.”
Cows grazing along hillsides and in seaside meadows are a picturesque and familiar sight in Marin and Sonoma counties. Dairy farms have been a local presence for more than 100 years, but thes...