Healdsburg’s Single Thread Farms restaurant hit by construction liens

Companies that made tenant improvements on the $300-per-plate restaurant say they have not been paid.|

Contractors working on one of the country’s most anticipated restaurants, Single Thread Farms in Healdsburg, claim the owners have held back payment for final construction costs totaling nearly $400,000.

In papers filed this week with the Sonoma County recorder’s office, the contractors put liens on the property at the intersection of North and Center streets that houses the ultra-high-end venture from chef Kyle Connaughton and his organic farmer wife, Katina.

The papers name New York City real estate developer Tony Greenberg, who managed the multi-million-dollar project and heads its investor group, as well as the building’s owner, PCS LLC, run by Healdsburg winemaker Pete Seghesio.

General contractor Mike Behler, co-owner of Santa Rosa-based Behler Construction Co., claims Greenberg failed to pay him and 13 subcontractors a total of $394,369 for work leading up to the Dec. 2 opening.

The epicurean attraction presents $300-per-plate dinners and features a five-room hotel with accommodations starting at $700 a night.

“We don’t want to hurt their business or anything,” said Behler, who is considering a future lawsuit. “We just want to get paid.”

Greenberg, president and founder of the Manhattan development firm, Up Ventures, declined to comment when reached Monday by phone. He instead issued a written statement acknowledging the dispute, which he said stemmed from a disagreement over the amount of credits and debits associated with “construction delays and change orders.”

“We are working on ensuring that all subcontractors and vendors get paid in full as quickly as possible for the work they performed, and hope to resolve our dispute with the general contractor shortly,” he said in a written statement issued by a publicist.

Seghesio, who is leasing the space to Single Thread, said he is not involved in the legal action “and it’s not appropriate for me to comment on it.”

He is building his own butcher shop, Healdsburg Meat Co., in a portion of the structure, located on the site of the old post office, which burned down in 2010, a block from the historic Healdsburg Plaza. It is expected to open this spring.

Kyle Connaughton did not return a call.

Single Thread generated white-hot interest among foodies worldwide when the vaunted chef and culinary gardener announced plans in 2015 that many said take the farm-to-table concept to a spectacular new level.

Katina Connaughton grows the food at a 5-acre farm in the Alexander Valley and in the restaurant’s rooftop garden, while Kyle Connaughton, a chef in renowned restaurants from Los Angeles to Japan, creates meticulously designed gourmet dishes in the kitchen.

The menu, presented in the Japanese multi-course tradition, begins at $295 without wine and is served in a luxurious, ?52-seat dining room paneled in redwood and reflecting a Japanese aesthetic.

Reservations are made about two months in advance and up to 12 months out for the hotel.

The Single Thread website features a nearly five-minute video “trailer” as well as dozens of artful photographs taken inside the restaurant, inn and on the farm. The site notes that meals can take up to three hours and suggests not bringing children under 12.

Stories about the restaurant and its much-acclaimed proprietors have appeared nationwide, including in the Wall Street Journal and Vogue magazine.

Seghesio’s plans for the two-story building were approved by the Healdsburg City Council in the summer of 2012, but changed in concept multiple times.

In addition, the building was substantially redesigned after it was all but built.

Tenant improvements requested by the Connaughtons as they were planning the restaurant and hotel began in February 2016 and totaled $2.4 million, Behler said.

Dozens of local contractors descended on the project, fabricating custom flooring and tiles and installing special touches including $5,000 electric toilets, Behler said.

At some point, Greenberg and the designers called for more than 100 changes to the original plan, including the addition of a Tesla car charger in the parking lot, the construction of a private dining room and a larger rooftop fire pit ring, he said.

Many subcontractors worked overtime to complete the job so the restaurant could open in December to paying customers. But when the work was completed, they were not paid, Behler said.

Santa Rosa-based flooring company owner Daren Babcock placed a $6,000 lien on the property.

He said his crew worked extra hours during fall rains to install a complicated mesquite block floor, only to be denied fair compensation.

“We pushed for them in good faith,” Babcock said. “We did whatever we could do so they could open on time. They returned it by not paying. I’m pretty mad about it.”

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 707-568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ppayne.

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