April 18, 2017 – Historic Will’s Fargo restaurant in Carmel Valley has served its last dinner. The 1920s era roadhouse closed Monday night and will be converted into the new Holman Ranch Tavern.
“We’re really excited about what’s happening,” says owner Hunter Lowder. “It’s an awesome historic building and it will still be a place where you can get a stiff drink, some comforting food and meet your friends.” The tavern—to open on May 20—will include tasting patios for Holman wines and their Jarman label.
“The restaurant industry is definitely changing and people just aren’t going out for high-end dinners anymore,” she adds, citing the former Jack London’s in Carmel being turned into Cultura last year and the upcoming conversion of Mundaka to modern Mexican fare.
“There’s a lot of change happening and everyone is just looking for ways to keep the doors open,” says Lowder. “It wasn’t a financial decision for us, but we looked at what we’re good at and that seems to be the happy hour crowd.”
Former Will’s Fargo chef Jèrôme Viel is partnering on food for the new venture, preparing plates of charcuterie, cheeses and pates, and working on new menu items that Lowder mentioned might include sharable dishes like do-it-yourself bruschetta or fondue. Viel—who left the restaurant’s kitchen in 2015 and bought the Carmel Valley Market—runs a catering business on the side.
The Will’s Fargo building will also serve as a special events space for classes, tastings and private parties, a purpose that fits very well with the thriving wedding business at Holman Ranch. The current Holman Ranch tasting room at 19 E. Carmel Valley Rd. will close on May 15.
“We’ve had Holman Ranch for the past 11 years and it has been a huge family dream-come-true to be able to make wine and olive oil and host weddings and parties there,” she says. “We’re just trying to bring it all together.”
A Grand Opening Party for the new Holman Ranch Tavern will take place on May 20 from 1pm to 5pm. It will include $5 food and wine pairings and a silent auction to benefit the Carmel Valley Historical Society. It is open to the public and RSVPs can be made be emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Holman Ranch Tavern will be open seven days a week from noon to 7pm.