Rendez Vous Bistro, the popular downtown Santa Rosa restaurant overlooking Old Courthouse Square, has closed for renovation, its owner said Wednesday.
Paris-born restaurateur Nino Rabbaa said he is spending $300,000 to transform the French-themed eatery into a casual dining establishment at the prominent Fourth Street building.
He said the new restaurant will be family-friendly and serve healthy, local food.
“We want to eliminate the fanciness,” Rabbaa said. “We'll make it more of a place where everyone feels they belong. It's going to become more casual, more fun, families, kids. We're bringing something cool.”
Rabbaa, who founded Rendez Vous Bistro five years ago, plans to reopen in April. He did not specify the name of the new restaurant, but said it would be branded similarly to his Flipside chain of Sonoma County eateries.
Rabbaa's SoCo Hospitality Group owns Flipside Bar and Burger on Third Street, Space XXV Lounge at Old Courthouse Square, Lakeside Grill at Spring Lake Regional Park and Chez Vous Catering. The company plans to open Flipside Steakhouse and Sports Bar on Calistoga Road in Rincon Valley on Jan. 20 and Flipside Brewhouse in Rohnert Park this spring.
The company has a 25-year lease on the Fourth Street space, which includes an outside dining patio, Rabbaa said.
“The good news is that Rendez Vous is not closing because we are leaving,” he said. “When we reopen the new design will be a better vision, a better concept that showcases Sonoma County.”
The new restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and will cater to a larger segment of the population than Rendez Vous Bistro, Rabbaa said.
“It's going to be local, healthy food and really cater to most of the community,” he said. “There will be a French touch here and there. It will fit perfectly downtown.”
Santa Rosa economic development coordinator Raissa de la Rosa said Rabbaa's new restaurant should do well at the Old Courthouse Square location.
“I was impressed with (Rabbaa's) innovation for that space,” she said. “There is a lot of traffic at that location. He's an aggressive businessman, and he's really dedicated to the downtown.”
Fans of Rendez Vous Bistro expressed sadness over the closing on the restaurant's Facebook page.
“We will truly miss Rendez Vous,” Danielle Mallein Noble wrote. “It was a favorite in S.R. and I always was pleased with every meal. It's hard to find good French restaurants and this was one of the best in S.C. Looking forward to your new ventures in R.V.!”