The first store in the $3 billion Williams-Sonoma empire, a humble hardware-turned-culinary shop opened by Chuck Williams in 1956, will be recreated in a project approved for 599 Broadway in Sonoma. A culinary center and café are also part of the new use for storefront space now occupied by the Frame Factory, Broadway Catering, and the 599 Thai Café.
On the same space the original Williams-Sonoma was located will emerge a 628-square foot retail store. It is intended to be a recreation of the first store, including the façade and sign matched to archival photographs.
The company promises that the design will be unique to Sonoma. “Even the product on offer is planned as a curated shopping experience.”
A portion of the display will be dedicated to educational materials on European cookware and goods, and their impact on American home cooking. Select inventory will include unique items that were only available at the original store, planners said.
The Sonoma retail site will be about one-tenth the size of a standard Williams-Sonoma store.
The café, which would share the same space as the cooking school, will serve lunch and dinner when the cooking school is not in session. Plans call for 26 indoor seats, along with six sidewalk seats.
The project also entails the rehab of 1,650-square foot residence at the back of the building. Chuck Williams, now 98, lived in the unit with his mother for about two years in the late 1950’s, Once restored, it will be exclusively for company use, by chefs, executives and guests visiting the property.
A nine-space parking lot, accessed by a new driveway off First Street West, is also part of the project.
Williams-Sonoma, Inc. purchased the 12,920-square foot parcel in 2012. Plans for the site, approved by the Planning Commission, now move on for approval by the city’s Design Review Committee.