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The French Laundry
The French Laundry logo.svg
The French Laundry.jpg
Exterior of The French Laundry
Restaurant information
Established 1978; 43 years ago (1978)
Current owner(s) Thomas Keller
Head chef Thomas Keller
Chef David Breeden
Food type French cuisine with American influences
Dress code Jacket required
Rating 3 Michelin stars (Michelin Guide)
Street address 6640 Washington St
City Yountville
State California
Postal/ZIP code 94599
Country United States
Coordinates 38°24′16″N 122°21′55″W / 38.40446°N 122.36521°W / 38.40446; -122.36521Coordinates: 38°24′16″N 122°21′55″W / 38.40446°N 122.36521°W / 38.40446; -122.36521
Seating capacity 60
Website
French Laundry
Location 6640 Washington St., Yountville, California
Area 0.4 acres (0.16 ha; 17,000 sq ft; 1,600 m2)
Built 1900
Architect Clark, Alexander (Gus)
NRHP reference No. 78000728
Added to NRHP April 19, 1978
(42 years ago)
 (1978-04-19)

The French Laundry is a French and New American restaurant located in Yountville, California, in the Napa Valley. The chef and owner of the French Laundry is Thomas Keller. The restaurant building dates from 1900 and was added to the list of National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

History

French Laundry Greenhouse
French Laundry Restaurant Greenhouse

The building was built as a saloon in the 1900s by a Scottish stonesman for Pierre Guillaume.

When a law was passed in 1906 prohibiting sale of alcohol within a mile (1600 m) of a veteran's home, Guillaume sold the building.

In the 1920s, the building was owned by John Lande who used it as a French steam laundry, which is the origin of the restaurant's name.

In 1978, Don Schmitt, the mayor of Yountville, renovated the building into a restaurant. He and his wife Sally Schmitt owned the French Laundry for much of the 1980s and early 1990s.

In 1994, Keller bought the restaurant.

In 2004, the restaurant installed a geothermal heating and air conditioning system.

In July 2014, the Napa Valley restaurant celebrated its 20th anniversary with a six-hour feast for friends, locals, and luminaries and temporarily closed for renovations before the end of the year.

In December 2014, while being temporarily closed for renovations, The French Laundry wine cellar was robbed of an estimated $500,000 of wine. Most of the wine was subsequently recovered.

On April 7, 2015, the restaurant reopened following demolition of a number of buildings on the site. During the remainder of the renovation project, the staff worked out of a temporary kitchen.

In November 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, California Governor Gavin Newsom was observed attending a birthday party for a lobbyist and friend at The French Laundry, where more than three other families were in attendance, despite his administration issuing guidelines limiting such gatherings to only three households. Neighboring diners at the restaurant said Newsom's party was so loud that restaurant staff closed off their outdoor dining space with sliding glass doors. Newsom's office initially defended the celebration and said dining recommendations were separate from state guidelines. Newsom later apologized for attending the celebration. The incident was said to have severely damaged Newsom's image and credibility amidst the public health crisis.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, The French Laundry has opened and closed a few times. They are currently closed.

Cuisine

French laundry carte
This vegetable tasting menu was one of three menus available for Sunday December 4, 2005

Every day, the French Laundry serves two different nine-course tasting menus, one the Chef's Tasting Menu and the other the Tasting of Vegetables, which is vegetarian. During the winter holiday season, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and other holidays, the restaurant may offer special dishes. Both menus are US$355 per person, including gratuity for the base meal, although not including additional supplements such as caviar and truffles.

The food is mainly French with contemporary American influences, giving rise to such unique specialties as smoked salmon cornets, which were inspired by a trip to Baskin-Robbins.

Staff

Notable alumni of the French Laundry's kitchen staff have included Grant Achatz of Alinea, Eric Ziebold of Kinship and Métier, Corey Lee of Benu, Jonathan Benno of Lincoln Ristorante, René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen, Ron Siegel of The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton, and Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes. Previous Chef de Cuisine Timothy Hollingsworth won the Bocuse d'Or USA semi-finals in 2008, and represented the U.S. in the international finals in January 2009, placing sixth.

Other locations

In February 2004, Thomas Keller opened the East Coast version of his Yountville restaurant, which he named Per Se. The kitchens of both restaurants are connected via a real-time video feed on a television screen.

Thomas Keller opened a pop-up restaurant in the Silverado Resort & Spa during the renovation of The French Laundry. The restaurant, which serves American classics, is called Ad Lib. This is not the first pop-up restaurant that Keller has helmed, previously popping up at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong and at Harrod's in London.

Awards and accolades

Since 2006, it has been awarded three stars in the Michelin Guide to San Francisco. It received a favorable review in The New York Times and was called "the best restaurant in the world, period" in 2005 by Anthony Bourdain.

Since 2007, the restaurant has been the recipient of the Wine Spectator Grand Award.

  • 2012, Culinary Hall of Fame Induction
  • 2007, Wine Spectator, Grand Award
  • 2006, Michelin Guide, Three Stars
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