Good things come to those who wait, the old saying goes.
In the case of longtime Mill Valley resident Ki Yong Choi, the wait in the midst of a global pandemic has been interminable at times, but it sure is great to be the one to re-open one of Mill Valley’s iconic restaurants, set in the historic El Paseo space at 17 Throckmorton Avenue.
Following legendary Mill Valley musician Sammy “the Red Rocker” Hagar’s decision to close his El Paseo restaurant in the space, citing his need to tend to his myriad business, media and musical interests, Choi’s group took over in 2019 and was very much on track to open Paseo: A California Bistro, featuring “locally sourced, naturally harvested New American cuisine.” Then a relentless public health crisis arrived.
“Despite the pandemic and the delays of the past year, he was determined to see this project through for the people of Mill Valley and we’re proud and humbled by the outpouring of community’s support,” says general manager Kevin Pacotti, a longtime Bay Area marketing consultant and restaurateur.
They opened Paseo on Dec. 10, facing the same staffing shortages every restaurant across the country is navigating and unsure how the community would respond after such a lengthy hiatus. They were overwhelmed with the response, serving a packed house Saturday night and now are recommending patrons grab reservations ahead of time.
The team hired Chef Brandon Breazeale, the longtime chef de cuisine at 31st Union in San Mateo and formerly of the Bodega Bay Lodge, to lead the kitchen staff, along with Sous Chef Kevin Cornwell, a Southern California native who first came to NorCal to play college basketball at Sonoma State. Cornwell attended culinary school after college. His passion for fine dining grew 10-fold after working at the former Michelin restaurant Madrona Manor in Healdsburg. He most recently worked at The French Laundry.
Pacotti, whose background includes such spots as the Rooftop in Walnut Creek and the Hotel Mac Restaurant, has made sure the venture expands on El Paseo’s former focus on dinner to include both lunch and dinner seven days a week, including brunch service on weekends. Pacotti assures the community that the vast majority of the historic exposed brick space – stretching between Throckmorton and Sunnyside avenues and dating back to the original El Paseo opening in 1947 – will remain unchanged.
Dinner is served 5-9 pm Sundays through Thursdays and 5-9:30 pm Fridays and Saturdays. Lunch extends from 11:30am-2pm Wednesdays through Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for brunch on weekends. 17 Throckmorton Ave. MORE INFO & RESERVATIONS.