BraytonHughes Design Studios Transforms Historic Downtown Napa Building

AVOW restaurant brings the winery to the people in a new downtown setting

The internationally-acclaimed design firm  BraytonHughes Design Studios is pleased to announce AVOW Napa, a new hospitality project designed as a vow to bring luxury to everyday life. A collaborative effort by Copper Cane Wines and Provisions, Architectural Resources Group (ARG), BraytonHughes and Cello & Maudru Construction, the project is a labor of love of Joe Wagner, a native of Napa whose family’s legacy in the region stretches back across seven generations. Located at 813 Main Street, AVOW is a renovation of the historic Fagiani’s, one of downtown Napa’s most beloved landmarks. The new tri-level bar and restaurant officially opened its doors on July 10.

“With AVOW, we intend to bring an iconic landmark back to illustrious roots, mirroring the revitalization of old town Napa,” explains Copper Cane Wines & Provisions Owner, Joe Wagner, whose family founded the Caymus Vineyards in 1972 and whose own company crafts high-end wine brands such as Belle Glos and Quilt. “With the interior remodel, BraytonHughes opened up what was closed and created levels for memorable moments to unfold.”

Originally constructed in 1908, the building’s long and storied past, along with its charming Renaissance Revival architecture, inspired Wagner to acquire the property in 2016.

“We take pride in building significant structures that signal the evolution of The Valley,” says Bill Schaeffer, partner and operations manager at Cello & Maudru, a company whose first chapter began with the renovation of Napa’s historic Hess Collection Winery in 1987 and continues with planning and handcrafting beautiful places throughout the Bay Area. “AVOW is one of several projects we are planning and constructing for Copper Cane Wines and Provisions. Working closely with Joe Wagner and Jim Blumling, Copper Cane’s vice president of operations, we strived with Brayton Hughes and Architectural Resources Group to bring life to this historical space and look forward to its reestablishment as a downtown Napa landmark.”

The new restaurant, lounge and bar will be a high-end addition to the burgeoning downtown Napa area. Guests are invited to taste from the Copper Cane portfolio of wines and wines from Wagner’s friends and family.

The fresh materials and interiors by BraytonHughes echo the keen eye and creative vision of Joe, a winemaker and creator of some of the most sought-after brands, who was determined to bring a dynamic food and wine experience to an urban setting. Rather than a restaurant with a room or series of rooms with tables, chairs and food as the focal point of a repeatable experience, AVOW features flexibility in spaces and less static dining areas for a more effervescent experience. 

“We embraced the building and how its three levels lend themselves naturally to delicately layered interiors,” explains Towan Kim, principal at BraytonHughes Design Studios. “Playing with a palette of varying degrees of texture, color and porousness, we created a downtown Napa destination that suits guests of all types, with a range of experiences to choose from depending on occasion and mood. A place to discover a new wine, or enjoy an old favorite whether alone, on a date or with family or friends.”

Inspired by the Past, but Perfect for Present-Day Napa

A major part of the update including peeling off the tiled exterior façade, which darkened the interior, and returning the building back to its original structure, thus reviving the proper store front with windows that offered views from inside and out. The building’s new street-level windows along with two arched windows on the second level are welcoming and inviting, shedding ample light to enliven the scene within.

“AVOW is an extremely significant project for downtown Napa, and it was a great privilege to work with the amazing ownership, design and construction team as the historic architect responsible for the exterior restoration,” says ARG Principal, Naomi Miroglio, FAIA.  “Steeped in a complex history, the building at 813 Main Street illustrates both the neighborhood’s commercial boom of the late 1800s, through its Richardsonian Romanesque details, as well as Main Street’s era of working-class bars as evidenced by the much-loved Art Deco tile storefront installed in the 1940s.”

To provide a dynamic street presence for the new restaurant, ARG’s team worked to reconstruct the historic storefront while also honoring the memory of the family who owned the bar from 1940 – 2010 through interpretive displays/plaques.  Balancing this history and in homage of the team behind AVOW, the faces of Wagner’s family members and first twenty-five staff members of Copper Cane Wines & Provisions are plastered in molds mounted on the wall of the restaurant’s third floor.  BraytonHughes’ designers worked in very close partnership with the Copper Cane team to draw upon features of the original building while imbuing the space with new dynamism. The painted white brick wall was sandblasted back to its natural reddish orange color, hearkening back to the building’s original material. Tin ceilings showcase a color gradation that lightens with each floor, akin to the distinct guest experiences at every level. 

Departing from the former heavily fortified building, AVOW now includes a street-level bar that offers a large, open, social area and wine lounge for Wagner’s showcase of favorite wines; a polished restaurant and oyster bar on the second level; and an active bar/lounge and patio on the third.

A Spectrum of Experiences from Floor to Floor

BraytonHughes allowed windows, nooks, entrances and passageways on each level to guide the design, listening to the possibilities suggested by each space. Though tones may or may not change subtly from floor to floor, with darker features on the lower level, medium tones on the second, and airy spaces with lighter-toned features on the third, the common denominator across all three levels are the tin ceilings, original, refinished wood floors, and oak and brick texture on the walls.

The main level bar features marble, dark wood, dark leather and bronze finishes to accentuate the clean, sophisticated décor. Toward the back of the building, and accessible by what feels like a secret passageway, a lounge affords intimate conversations and wine tastings. BraytonHughes infused a speakeasy theme into this space with layers of quiet, appropriately placed lights, comfortable sofas and lush fabrics, and charcoal grey ceilings.

An oyster bar is the focal point of the second-level restaurant, where guests can see the shucking and catch glimpses of kitchen staff behind a translucent screen made with glass. Playing with levels of visibility and the interplay of open and intimate spaces, BraytonHughes designed the screen to suit the fine dining occasion, creating a backdrop for the end of the dining room that reflects back to the glazed, arched street-facing windows.

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The second-floor restaurant décor is glamorous, with a sophisticated color palette lightened by the generous use of wood. The room features an array of booths made with white oak wood with a cerused grey finish and leather upholstery along with four-top tables constructed of solid walnut tops with metal bases. The large, channel-tufted booths create nooks for smaller groups while a racetrack chandelier with resin-like crystals adds a suspended grace note over the four-top tables. In a glass cabinet above the booths, a large scale showcased alongside a collection of wines calls to mind the balance a wine achieves when all components are working in harmony.

Proceeding to the rooftop deck on AVOW’s third floor, guests will find a terrace equipped with Iroko wood lounge seating, indoor bar height custom tables with brass and bronze plated finishes, and a centered firepit.

About BraytonHughes Design Studios

BraytonHughes Design Studios is an internationally acclaimed design firm based in San Francisco, California. Established in 1989, BraytonHughes has developed the design of hospitality, commercial, corporate, institutional and residential projects into a comprehensive practice recognized for design excellence. Today, BraytonHughes Design Studios has dozens of diverse projects spanning five continents. The firm’s philosophy of “total design” encompasses space, interior architecture, furniture, art, and decorative objects designed or chosen with an artistic sensibility. Each project is created to convey a unique sense of place, created through a common foundation of exacting detail and carefully crafted materials.

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About Architectural Resources Group

With offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon, Architectural Resources Group’s practice helps people realize opportunities in the historic built environment to create great places, enhance investment, and enliven community. The firm’s services include new design in historic settings, adaptive reuse, rehabilitation, seismic strengthening, sustainable design, restoration, programming and facility master planning, feasibility studies, and interior design. ARG was founded in 1980 and is a women-owned business.

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About Cello & Maudru Construction

Cello & Maudru Construction began when Kris Cello and Bill Maudru teamed up to renovate Napa’s historic Hess Collection Winery in 1987. Since then, it has joined with inspired owners and visionary designers to plan and handcraft hundreds of beautiful places throughout the Bay Area. The company specializes in long-imagined estate residences, wineries, boutique resorts, museums, and restaurants.

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About Copper Cane Wines & Provisions

Founded in 2014, Copper Cane has redefined the modern winery with their unique approach to the winemaking process. When grapevine canes begin to lignify, or turn to winter hardy wood, they take on a copper hue. This color shift signals that the green character and harsh tannins have been purged from the vine (and therefore the wine). Only then are the grapes ready for harvest. For Copper Cane’s founder, Joseph Wagner, this patience is essential. While most growers pick their grapes as sugar content hits a certain mark, Wagner waits for physiological maturity to ensure consistency year to year. The result is a wine full of rich, ripe fruit flavors—a style Wagner and his family have always loved. Representative brands include Elouan, Belle Glos, Napa Valley Quilt, and Böen. In addition to his many brands of wines, Joseph also owns the premium cigar line Avrae and the Napa Valley restaurant AVOW.

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Media contacts:  Hwee Peng Yeo, Marguerite Munoz, Grecia Corleto or Lauren Cardey at Glodow Nead Communications, 415-394-6500, [email protected].

About the author

Linda Hohnholz