But while Higgins’ is three decades and change removed from his debut opening of the Fog City Diner in San Francisco, his enthusiasm level for his latest project is at a fever pitch, for reasons that go beyond the details of menu, decor and the physical space itself.
For Higgins, Floodwater, the massive, 7,200-square-foot new restaurant, bar and gathering place in the former Frantoio space in Tam Junction, is the culmination of watching his two eldest sons follow in his restaurateur footsteps, make their own respective marks in the industry and be partners in the latest family venture.
“It’s just been absolutely phenomenal,” Higgins says of the process of teaming up with his sons Tyler, 35, and Henry, 27, to create Floodwater, which is set for a Nov. 29 opening.
The Idea began germinating not long after Frantoio closed and the Higgins trio started brainstorming on the possibilities of such a massive space.
”We just thought we could create a niche here in Marin that doesn’t really exist, and that’s a fun, high energy, social gathering place that appeals to a lot of different kinds of people,” Bill Higgins says.
“It was really the right time for us to do something like this, as Henry and I have gone off and done our own things and now have the chance to work together, and with our dad – it’s just fantastic,” Tyler Higgins adds.
Henry Higgins comes to the project after a stint In Chicago, tracking a path that his father and brother, all fellow University of Colorado alums, followed before him, at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, the Rich Melman-owned restaurant and bar juggernaut that spans more than 100 venues. Henry Higgins worked at Hub 51 in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, as did Tyler Higgins just a few years earlier.
“It’s great to all be together working on this,” Henry Higgins says.
Julian Cox, who was nominated for a James Beard award for his work at Tartine Manufactory, manages the bar menu of cocktails, wines and local craft beers.
The Higgins trio’s most daunting task out of the gate was a renovation of the gigantic building adjacent to the Holiday Inn Express. They worked with Whitfield Architects to create an urban rustic interior dominated by a 240-seat space featuring an expansive, 30-foot wood trussed ceiling, a 35-foot bar that faces five large-screen TVs, as well as a main dining room, two private dining spaces and an outdoor patio that seats 45 with glass walls, fire pits and heaters.
A late-night menu is available from 10 p.m. until midnight. On weekends, a limited brunch menu is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., along with a lunch menu from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.