The worst-kept secret in restaurant news is finally out: Thomas Keller has confirmed to Inside Scoop that he’ll be embarking on a sizable renovation of his iconic The French Laundry this winter, one that will shutter the restaurant at least until spring, and possibly into the summer. The renovation won’t affect the three-Michelin-starred restaurant’s historic dining rooms at all: instead, it’s going to be a full-scale demolition and rebuild of the kitchen and the property surrounding the restaurant, which could take as long as six months to complete.
While rumors had buzzed that Keller would deal with the closure by turning the restaurant into a pop-up at the Silverado Resort & Spa, he says that likely won’t end up being the case (though he’s still considering other, non-TFL pop-ups in future). Instead, he’s hoping to have kitchens built in four customized shipping containers outside the restaurant, with the goal of reopening in the spring as an “under construction” version of TFL in the unaffected dining rooms. However, that plan is contingent upon permitting and budgeting issues, and if it doesn’t go through, the fully fledged French Laundry revamp won’t debut until late summer or early fall, making for a significant closure.
Keller is currently only accepting reservations for the restaurant through December 23, and plans to shutter it sometime in the week between Christmas and New Year’s to commence construction. When it reopens, the kitchen and surrounding area won’t be the only new thing about The French Laundry: as announced yesterday, the restaurant is moving its reservations to Tock, the ticket-based system from Alinea’s Nick Kokonas in which Keller is an investor.