Petaluma’s proposed hotel would feature restaurant by Chef Charlie Palmer

Recent consideration of a new hotel proposed for downtown Petaluma has focused on the hotel’s main developer, EKN Development Group of Newport Beach. But a new partner in the plan has caught the eye of local foodies: celebrity chef Charlie Palmer, whose recently launched hospitality group, Appellation, would help develop the hotel, including its 190-seat restaurant and rooftop bar.

The news comes just months after Appellation announced another ambitious hotel and retail project in Healdsburg, also with a restaurant and rooftop bar. The company, co-owned by Palmer and Christopher Hunsburger, also has projects in Pacific Grove and Sun Valley.

According to a public relations manager representing Appellation, that company and EKN formalized their new partnership in December, thereby changing the original proposal for “Hotel Weaver” – a project still in the planning process, according to the city – into “Appellation Petaluma.”

Like the previous proposal, Appellation Petaluma would be a 93-room, 66,500-square-foot, five-story luxury hotel occupying a currently empty lot at the corner of Petaluma Boulevard South and B Street.

Calling Petaluma a “foodie destination within a foodie destination,” Palmer’s hospitality group said food demonstrations, artistic presentations and nods to the region’s sustainable farming practices would be part of the visitor experience at the hotel.

“We intentionally designed this hotel to pay homage to the integral role that food and wine play in Petaluma,” said Ebbie Nakhjavani, CEO of EKN Development Group, in a press release.

Palmer, who is a Sonoma County resident and James Beard award-winning chef with 16 restaurants around the country, said he had been looking for an opportunity in Petaluma for years as it is “an emerging culinary destination in the region.” Palmer opened Healdsburg’s iconic Dry Creek Kitchen in 2001 and has eponymous steakhouses in New York, Reno, Las Vegas and Napa.

In recent years, the once-sleepy dairy- and egg-producing area has surged onto the world stage with one of the country’s most recent AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), the Petaluma Gap, and has attracted talented chefs, including Stephane Saint Louis and Steven Vargas of Table Culture Provisions, Jevon Martin of Street Social, and Roberth Sundell of Stockhome restaurant. Chef Tony Najiola’s Central Market also is a Petaluma food destination.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated online to reflect more current information.

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