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Posted April 2006

Thomas' World

Yountville Becomes a Mecca for Keller-Owned Restaurants

YOUNTVILLE—The town of Yountville may soon need to rethink its name. With three Thomas Keller-owned restaurants (Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and the famed French Laundry), a catering and meat shop in the works, and the recent purchase of the now-shuttered Wine Garden, the globe-trotting chef is creating something close to an empire in this blink-or-you'll-miss-it midway point between Napa and Calistoga.

Though food-fanatics have long known this to be ground zero for all-that-is-Chef Thomas, the name some say, changing the name to "Kellerville" is starting to have some serious possibilities. Maybe Thomasburg? Bouchonopolis? In any case, Thomas has all but taken over.

Keller's Empire

Yountville
The French Laundry, 6640 Washington St., Yountville, CA.
Bouchon, 6534 Washington St., Yountville, CA

Bouchon Bakery, 6540 Washington St., Yountville, CA

Bouchon Boucherie (meats and cheeses shop-anticipated winter 2006)

Bouchon Private Dining (Villagio-anticipated summer 2006)

The Wine Garden (recently purchased-anticipated spring 2007), 6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA

New York
Per Se

Las Vegas
Bouchon

Keller opened his now-world-famous French Laundry restaurant in 1992, assuming the name from its former owners. The restaurant is known for its intriguing, and often labor-intensive dishes that have thrilled and delighted diners for years—often referred to as one of, if not the, best restaurants in the country. Next came the bistro-styled Bouchon. A scaled down, come-as-you-are type of seafood restaurant, Bouchon is a favorite stomping ground for lunching locals. Next door is Bouchon bakery, where Keller's staff serve up steaming cappuccinos, bread and Napoleons—easily the most affordable of the Keller empire.

In the meantime, Keller has opened restaurants in Las Vegas and New York, but since last summer, has begun snapping up opportunities closer to home. He will soon open a high-end catering company, Bouchon Private Dining, working with the Villagio Inn & Spa to create Keller dishes on a larger scale—the company reportedly will be able to create meals for up to 600. In addition, Keller plans to open a meat shop, selling many of the same cuts of meat he uses in his restaurants next fall, calling it Bouchon Boucherie. Keller plans to have these operations close by, located just across the street from his Bouchon restaurant.

The final acquisition, at least for now, is the recently closed Wine Garden restaurant, just down the block—easy walking distance even in chef's clogs—where he's planning to open another upscale-yet-approachable restaurant that, according to published reports, could include anything from steak to sushi. (Note to Keller, do we need another steak house, really?) With any luck, this final piece of the empire should open by spring of next year. Just in time for Keller fans to completely collapse into a foie-gras and salmon torchon-induced coma of bliss.

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