The French Laundry

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The French Laundry
The French Laundry logo.svg
The French Laundry.jpg
Exterior of The French Laundry
Restaurant information
Established1978; 43 years ago (1978)
Owner(s)Thomas Keller
Head chefThomas Keller
ChefDavid Breeden
Food typeFrench cuisine with American influences
Dress codeJacket required
Rating3 Michelin stars (Michelin Guide)
Street address6640 Washington St
Postal/ZIP Code94599
CountryUnited States
Coordinates38°24′16″N 122°21′55″W / 38.40446°N 122.36521°W / 38.40446; -122.36521Coordinates: 38°24′16″N 122°21′55″W / 38.40446°N 122.36521°W / 38.40446; -122.36521
Seating capacity60
French Laundry
The French Laundry is located in California
The French Laundry
The French Laundry is located in the United States
The French Laundry
Location6640 Washington St., Yountville, California
Coordinates38°24′16″N 122°21′50″W / 38.40444°N 122.36389°W / 38.40444; -122.36389
Area0.4 acres (0.16 ha; 17,000 sq ft; 1,600 m2)
ArchitectClark, Alexander (Gus)
NRHP reference No.78000728[1]
Added to NRHPApril 19, 1978
(42 years ago)

The French Laundry is a French and New American restaurant located in Yountville, California, in the Napa Valley. The chef and owner of the French Laundry is Thomas Keller. The restaurant building dates from 1900 and was added to the list of National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[1]


French Laundry Restaurant Greenhouse

The building was built as a saloon in the 1900s by a Scottish stonesman for Pierre Guillaume.[2]

When a law was passed in 1906 prohibiting sale of alcohol within a mile (1600 m) of a veteran's home, Guillaume sold the building.[citation needed]

In the 1920s, the building was owned by John Lande who used it as a French steam laundry, which is the origin of the restaurant's name.[2]

In 1978, Don Schmitt, the mayor of Yountville, renovated the building into a restaurant. He and his wife Sally Schmitt owned the French Laundry for much of the 1980s and early 1990s.[3]

In 1994, Keller bought the restaurant.[4][5]

In 2004, the restaurant installed a geothermal heating and air conditioning system.[6]

In July 2014, the Napa Valley restaurant celebrated its 20th anniversary with a six-hour feast for friends, locals, and luminaries[7] and temporarily closed for renovations before the end of the year.[8]

In December 2014, while being temporarily closed for renovations, The French Laundry wine cellar was robbed of an estimated $500,000 of wine. Most of the wine was subsequently recovered.[9][10]

On April 7, 2015, the restaurant reopened following demolition of a number of buildings on the site. During the remainder of the renovation project, the staff worked out of a temporary kitchen.[11]

In November 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, California Governor Gavin Newsom was observed attending a birthday party for a lobbyist and friend at The French Laundry, where more than three other families were in attendance, despite his administration issuing guidelines limiting such gatherings to only three households. Neighboring diners at the restaurant said Newsom's party was so loud that restaurant staff closed off their outdoor dining space with sliding glass doors. Newsom's office initially defended the celebration and said dining recommendations were separate from state guidelines. Newsom later apologized for attending the celebration. The incident was said to have severely damaged Newsom's image and credibility amidst the public health crisis.[12][13][14] A day after hosting Governor Newsom, The French Laundry hosted a similar dinner involving San Francisco Mayor London Breed.[15]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, The French Laundry has opened and closed a few times. They are currently open with limited seating, in accordance with pandemic restrictions.[16]


This vegetable tasting menu was one of three menus available for Sunday December 4, 2005

Every day, the French Laundry serves two different nine-course tasting menus, one the Chef's Tasting Menu and the other the Tasting of Vegetables, which is vegetarian.[17] During the winter holiday season, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and other holidays, the restaurant may offer special dishes. Both menus are US$355 per person, including gratuity for the base meal, although not including additional supplements such as caviar and truffles.[18][19]

The food is mainly French with contemporary American influences, giving rise to such unique specialties as smoked salmon cornets,[20][21] which were inspired by a trip to Baskin-Robbins.


Notable alumni of the French Laundry's kitchen staff have included Grant Achatz of Alinea, Eric Ziebold of Kinship and Métier, Corey Lee of Benu, Jonathan Benno of Lincoln Ristorante, René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen, Ron Siegel of The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton, and Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes. Previous Chef de Cuisine Timothy Hollingsworth[22] won the Bocuse d'Or USA semi-finals in 2008,[23][24] and represented the U.S. in the international finals in January 2009, placing sixth.[25]

Other locations[edit]

In February 2004, Thomas Keller opened the East Coast version of his Yountville restaurant, which he named Per Se. The kitchens of both restaurants are connected via a real-time video feed on a television screen.[26]

Thomas Keller opened a pop-up restaurant in the Silverado Resort & Spa during the renovation of The French Laundry. The restaurant, which serves American classics, is called Ad Lib.[27] This is not the first pop-up restaurant that Keller has helmed, previously popping up at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong[28] and at Harrod's in London.[29]

Awards and accolades[edit]

Since 2006, it has been awarded three stars in the Michelin Guide to San Francisco. It received a favorable review in The New York Times[30] and was called "the best restaurant in the world, period" in 2005 by Anthony Bourdain.[31]

Since 2007, the restaurant has been the recipient of the Wine Spectator Grand Award.[32]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Alexander, Pat (2009). Yountville. Arcadia Publishing. p. 29. ISBN 9780738569659. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  3. ^ "Donald R. Schmitt". Napa Valley Register. Napa, CA: Lee Enterprises, Inc. February 10, 2017. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  4. ^ "The French Laundry: Thomas Keller". Los Angeles Magazine. 45 (8): 136. August 2000. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  5. ^ Woolever, Laurie. "Chef Talk: Thomas Keller". Wine Spectator Online. M. Shanken Communications, Inc. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  6. ^ Friedman, Gabe (February 8, 2004). "Famed eatery seeks alternative energy source". Napa Valley Register. Napa, CA: Lee Enterprises, Inc. Retrieved September 24, 2011.
  7. ^ Robinson, Joanna. "Truffled Grilled Cheese and In-N-Out Burgers: Celebrating the French Laundry's 20th Anniversary". Vanity Fair. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  8. ^ Carson, L. Pierce (April 7, 2014). "French Laundry will close temporarily for expansion". Napa Valley Register. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "French Laundry reopens, reveals renovation plans". Napa Valley Register. April 7, 2015. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
  12. ^ Koseff, Alexei (November 17, 2020). "Newsom on French Laundry dinner party: 'I made a bad mistake'". SF Chronicle. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  13. ^ Melugin, Bill; Insheiwat, Shelly (November 18, 2020). "FOX 11 obtains exclusive photos of Gov. Newsom at French restaurant allegedly not following COVID-19 protocols". Fox LA. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  14. ^ Fuller, Thomas (November 18, 2020). "For California Governor the Coronavirus Message Is Do as I Say, Not as I Dine". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  15. ^ Graff, Amy (December 1, 2020). "San Francisco Mayor London Breed also dined at French Laundry". SFGate. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  16. ^ Edmonds, Lauren. "Michelin-starred restaurant where Gov. Newsom dined during COVID-19 surge got over $2.4 million in PPP loans". Insider. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  17. ^ "Today's Menus". Thomas Keller Restaurant Group. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  18. ^ "Chef's Tasting Menu – 26 October 2015" (PDF). The French Laundry. Retrieved October 27, 2015.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Tasting of Vegetables – 26 October 2015" (PDF). The French Laundry. Retrieved October 27, 2015.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "Thomas Keller". Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  21. ^ "The Easy Way to Make Thomas Keller's Signature Salmon Cornets". Food & Wine. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  22. ^ Forbes, Paula. "Timothy Hollingsworth Is Out at French Laundry; Per Se's David Breeden Is In". Vox Media Inc. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  23. ^ Wells, Pete, The New York Times (September 28, 2008). French Laundry Sous Chef Will Represent U.S. in Bocuse d’Or
  24. ^ Cowin, Diana, Food & Wine (February 2009). Competing at the Bocuse d’Or: Team USA’s Unbeatable Recipes
  25. ^ Sciolino, Elaine, The New York Times: Diner's Journal (January 28, 2009). The American Chef Comes in Sixth
  26. ^ Zimmer, Erin (May 29, 2009). "Per Se's Kitchen, Still Well-Stocked and Watching the French Laundry on Flat-Screen TV | Serious Eats : New York". Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  27. ^ Lucchessi, Paolo (January 12, 2015). "Thomas Keller to launch temporary restaurant at Silverado: Ad Lib". Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  28. ^ Stolerman, William (November 2, 2010). "Mandarin Oriental HK Welcoming Chef Thomas Keller". Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  29. ^ "The French Laundry at Harrods: Thomas Keller interview". September 2011. Retrieved January 12, 2015.
  30. ^ "The French Laundry – Reviews and Ratings of Restaurants in Napa Valley – New York Times Travel". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 21, 2008. Retrieved April 28, 2008.
  31. ^ "Las Vegas". Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Season 1. Episode 7. October 17, 2005. 7 minutes in. His Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry, is in my opinion, the best restaurant in the world. Period.
  32. ^ a b "The French Laundry". Wine Spectator. January 1, 2015. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  33. ^ Culinary Hall of Fame Induction
  34. ^ "San Francisco 2013 Michelin Guide; Michelin Travel & Lifestyle". Retrieved April 10, 2013.

External links[edit]