Chuck Williams was already in his forties when he first started selling French cookware out of a small storefront in the backwater of Sonoma in 1956 and at 100, he is still a fan of good food.

He added Sonoma to the name of his business because he thought it sounded more sophisticated, like “Abercrombie & Fitch,” and carried it with him when he decided to go after a bigger audience in San Francisco two years later.

Williams-Sonoma, the kitchenware empire he launched out of that former hardware store on Broadway, will celebrate its founder’s 100th birthday on Saturday with a free public pancake feed on the Sonoma Plaza from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

The centenarian himself will celebrate quietly with friends at home in San Francisco.

The second annual Founder’s Day Pancake Breakfast will be served near the horeshoe in front of Sonoma City Hall. It will include two large pancakes, a sausage, orange juice and coffee, prepared by students from the Culinary Institute oF American in St. Helena.

Birthday wishes can be posted for Williams at #Chucks100th, @williamssonoma on Instagram and Twitter, and @williams-sonoma on Facebook.

The historic shop showcases classic products Williams loved and was designed to evoke the original store, including incorporating the old house behind it where Williams used to live with his mother. It is located at 605 Broadway in Sonoma.

You can reach Staff Writer Meg McConahey at or 521-5204 On Twitter @megmcconahey.