Acclaimed Bay Area restaurant Chez Panisse to resume lunch

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When Berkeley’s Chez Panisse reopened in March 2022, one key aspect was still missing — its lunch service.

“It took us a really long time to reopen just because of the nature of our building,” Mehra told SFGATE in a phone interview. “There’s not a lot of windows for airflow and it’s not a particularly COVID-friendly building.”

Patrons will be able to enjoy a farm-to-table, a la carte meal during the day, starting Feb. 3, Mehra said. But to begin, lunch at Chez Panisse will be served only on Fridays and Saturdays, Mehra told SFGATE.

The service will take place only in the upstairs cafe, as it always was prior to the pandemic, and the menu will reportedly be different from the dinner options. It will be more geared towards lunch items such as salads, pizzas and soups, according to Mehra, but served with the same elegance the restaurant is known for in its evening service.

The Chez Panisse a la carte lunch menu is expected to include pizzas, salads, soups and more. 

San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst N/Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images

“We’re just excited to have people back in during the day,” Mehra said.

Part of the reason it’s taken the team a whole year to reintroduce lunch service is because of the meticulous training everyone on the staff must go through. With its seasonal menu changes, Mehra explained, it takes a whole year for everyone to become familiar with the menu of each season. The team didn’t feel ready to bring back lunch service until the employees hired during the pandemic, mostly wait staff, had seen each type of menu over the past year.

“We just wanted to wait a little bit until everything felt ready,” Mehra said.

Going forward, the plan is to host a lunch service Tuesday through Saturday, the same days the restaurant is open for dinner. But as of now, Mehra said they don’t have a timetable as to when that will happen.

For now, patrons can start to book lunch reservations on the restaurant’s cafe reservations page. New spots open up one month in advance of your dining date, but they go quickly, so plan on checking the website at 9 a.m. the month before you intend to book.



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