Chez Panisse temporarily closes following ‘potential exposure’ to COVID-19

Alice Waters’s storied Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse, has temporarily closed following a possible COVID-19 exposure,

Alice Waters’s storied Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse, has temporarily closed following a possible COVID-19 exposure, the restaurant announced.

The restaurant stated via social media that it would be closed from Feb. 24-27 and reopen Feb. 28, but did not offer a reason behind the weeklong closure. In a newsletter emailed to subscribers, however, the restaurant expanded on why it is closing, citing a “potential exposure” on Feb. 18. The news of this week’s temporary closure was first reported Tuesday by Berkeleyside.

The newsletter reads, in part:

Last week was an exciting turning point in the pandemic when food service workers were able to get their first dose of vaccines, which many members of our staff were able to take advantage of. Unfortunately, due to potential exposure on Thursday, February 18, we have decided the safest course of action will be to close for lunch and dinner this week from Wednesday – Saturday to allow time for our staff to quarantine and get tested.

In 2020, Chez Panisse was forced to pivot from its fine-dining format into a more casual setup, as restaurants had to deal with the closure (and reopening, then reclosure) of indoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chez Panisse shortened its hours and shifted away from multi-course meals, instead selling CSA boxes and offering a weekly rotating menu of food items to-go, such as sandwiches, salads and vegetable dishes.

Chez Panisse was among a number of restaurants that filed lawsuits against their insurers for not covering losses incurred by the shelter-in-place order last March. In July 2020, the restaurant sued its insurer, AMCO Insurance Company, whom the restaurant said “acted in bad faith by categorically denying the insurance claim” made by the restaurant.

The restaurant did have one bright spot in 2020, however: Chez Panisse added to its list of James Beard awards and was named “2020 Design Icon.” (Previous winners include Canlis in Seattle; American Restaurant in Kansas City, Mo.; The Oyster Bar in New York City.)


SFGATE has reached out to Chez Panisse for more information about their temporary closure and will update if we hear back.