Seeing the sun rise in a clear sky over Healdsburg Wednesday morning, two feelings prevailed. The first was immense relief that we were safe. The second was sorrow, knowing what so many of our friends - neighbors and patrons - must be going through.
Over a decade ago we lost all our family possessions when our beloved farmhouse on the Greenwood Ridge in Philo burnt to the ground. We were never in physical danger and we had a place to shelter, an empty flat with a few beds on the second floor of a barn on Center Street we were in the final stages of building. We were devastated, but not in the way so many across Sonoma, Mendocino and Napa Counties are now, some having lost whole communities, and in the most tragic circumstances, family members.
We never intended to open a restaurant in the barn when we lost our home on the ridge. The journey toward what our life has become today was born from the impulse to just keep moving. 'Barndiva' came at a moment in our lives when all we really wanted to do was dive headlong under a bed of grief. But we threw ourselves into creating a life and a business in Healdsburg which slowly came into shape. It didn’t come swiftly; there was a period of stunned disbelief, then a very dark time. It was the indelible beauty of this landscape and the kindness of strangers who seemed open to all our crazy ideas that slowly dragged us back into the light. We could never replace what we lost, but the people and community Barndiva brought into our lives saved us.
From the beginning, because it was the local community which welcomed and bolstered us, it was the local community we were primarily focused on serving. To be sure, we have embraced and been sustained by tourism - but the focus has never been about fostering a line between neighbor and stranger. A truly viable notion of sustainability is one which supports local farms and purveyors, invests heavily in a local work force that prepares and serves food and drink to our tables. But it offers the same dining experience to anyone who passes through our doors. So many of the calls of concern we received the past week have been from couples who were married on our property who hold Healdsburg and Sonoma County close to their hearts. Its health is important to them too. Sonoma County doesn’t just rely upon hospitality as an industry, it thrives because being hospitable is character, and (in the best instances) passion driven.
We have a long road ahead toward recovery of our emotional and economic equilibrium. Even as we welcome the world back, it's clear the immediate needs of this community are paramount - it will require all of us, using our best skills, to bring back what so many have lost. So we don’t lose them.
We are a small family business that has, as its first responsibility, keeping our incredibly dedicated work force employed. We will be here, with all the love and talent Ryan Fancher puts into our food, cooking our hearts out. We look forward to welcoming you soon.
We want to extend heartfelt and awe-struck gratitude to the many brave first responders who put their lives on the line in Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino. A special shout out to Supervisor James Gore and State Senator Mike McGuire for their immediate and laser focused help when and where it was needed most. To all our elected representatives across the North Bay who are stepping up, Thank You.
Eat, Drink, Gather!