Viognier was already struggling before the pandemic, said Joany Draeger, whose family opened the 60,000-square-foot San Mateo store with Viognier upstairs in 1997. She attributed decreasing sales at the restaurant to a "general decline" in fine dining and fewer "clientele that appreciate this type of experience."
Viognier, the upstairs restaurant inside Draeger's Market in San Mateo, has permanently closed. Photo courtesy Draeger's Market.
With the future of indoor dining still uncertain and the prospect of reopening Viognier at less than 50% capacity, the family "came to a threshold where we would have to either invest and reformat our restaurant or close completely," Draeger said. "After 23 years, we decided to close."
When Viognier opened, the Draegers made a splash by installing Gary Danko at the helm before he went on to open his eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant in San Francisco.
Viognier's most recent chef was R.J. Subaba, who came with fine-dining experience at the Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, Madera at the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park and The Village Pub in Woodside.
Draeger said they offered all Viognier employees positions at the grocery stores and that the majority of the staff continue to work for them.
They don't currently have any plans for repurposing the Viognier space.
"We're very focused on guiding our grocery operation through this health crisis while ensuring the safety of employees and customers," Draeger said.
They plan to reopen the upstairs cafe at Draeger's in Menlo Park when allowed to do so under San Mateo County public health guidelines. Draeger said the casual cafe is "run very differently from Viognier in terms of physical layout, staff and food supply."