What’s New in Marin in December 2020

Even with Covid-19, new businesses are still opening, and it’s a better time then ever to support local. Here are some new openings, happenings and updates to check out (safely) around Marin County this December.

With the latest shelter-in-place orders, please support these brave local businesses (kudos for opening during a pandemic!) by ordering takeout from the restaurants and shopping online; check with the sites below to see how each is adapting to pandemic restrictions.


The team at Marin Magazine mourns the loss of revered local chef Todd Shoberg, who built a career on honoring our local food shed at Mill Valley’s Piatti, el Paseo and Molina before defining the menu at Brewster’s Beer Garden in Petaluma. We would like to honor his memory in a small way by calling your attention to the ShoBurger, chef Shoberg’s daily creation inspired by whatever ingredients caught his attention that morning. “Todd was a legend, and he touched everyone’s life in a positive way, whether it was through his cooking, his bike riding or his friendship. He was the most loved and respected human being I have ever met and I strive every day to be more like him,” said Brewster’s owner Mike Goebel. To support Shoberg’s family, please visit this GoFundMe.

The self-proclaimed oldest saloon on the West Coast and best party in town reopened in October after a lengthy remodel to improve everything from the deck to the sewer system. The new menu at Smiley’s Cantina in Bolinas includes local catch mezcal ceviche, vegan tortilla soup and family style plates. Yes, the house margaritas are still here.

New proprietors Jeanine and Kelly Egan reopened this all things dairy restaurant and takeout shop in late October for outdoor dining and limited takeout. The Cheese School remains perched on an upper terrace at San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square so the views — and cheeses — are as epic as ever.

In the same building in downtown Tomales that houses Route One Bakery & Kitchen and Tomales Deli, Piezzi Provisions opened its doors earlier this autumn. Owned by the same team behind Toluma Farms, Tomales Farmstead Creamery and San Francisco’s Daily Driver, the petite store features locally-made foods and handcrafted housewares. A coffee bar is scheduled to open in December.


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Tarte aux poires 🍐

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Specializing in the French tradition of pate en croute, brioche, tarts, terrines and other Parisian-style treats, downtown San Francisco’s Restaurant Nico completed a recent pivot from sit down affair to casual café in Maison Nico. A well-curated list of wines, cocktails and coffees ensures an experience a la française. 

Comfort food favorites at breakfast (farmer’s frittata, avocado toast) and lunch (squash and corn ravioli, Pantry burger) are already winners at this Petaluma newcomer. Sonoma Magazine recently bestowed April Pantry with an award for Best Fried Chicken Hawaiian Style for their Korean BBQ Chicken on the Aloha Plate. A wide patio shaded by umbrellas welcomes customers until indoor dining resumes in Sonoma County. 



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Yes! We are….

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Longtime Sausalito resident Angela Johansen brings an extensive background in retail and residential design to curating the goods at her new gift and home store in downtown Sausalito, Salty. A modern lifestyle shop, it features furniture, art, home goods and gift items with a focus on natural materials.

San Anselmo native Kaitlyn Lo and co-founder Jessica Hershfield, along with winemaker Ross Bentley, launched a line of consciously-crafted premium wines — Just Enough Wines — in cans earlier this autumn. The 250 ml cans equate to 1.5 glasses of wine, providing a practical serving size and reduced carbon footprint compared to glass. Look for them at Dillon Beach’s general store, Sausalito’s Bar Bocce and Due West Market in Olema for now. 



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Happy Friday! As we turn the corner to the weekend, we wanted to remind you about a couple of important things: IN CASE OF RAIN: Our gondolas are fully enclosed, so light rain won’t put a damper on your day. If rain is in the forecast, we recommend bringing an umbrella or raincoat to keep you dry while you wait. However, the Wheel will temporarily close for the safety of our employees and guests if there is lightning or high winds. In case of inclement weather, please visit our Facebook page for realtime updates. WAITING IN LINE: Keep in mind that tickets are sold for one-hour windows. If you purchase a ticket for the 1pm hour, your ride will be between 1 and 2pm. Each one-hour window is first-come, first-served, so you might have a brief wait, but our team will do our best to get you boarded quickly. 📷by Yoki Lin

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To help celebrate Golden Gate Park’s 150th anniversary, the long-awaited modern Wheel opened in late October, bringing riders 15 stories above the earth. Bedecked with LED lights at night, the SkyStar Observation Wheel resides on the Music Concourse near the de Young Museum and is by reservation only.

While the wheel is currently closed, gift cards can be purchased for future rides.


A new senior living community, Oakmont of Novato, in Novato offers assisted living and memory care in private studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment homes. In addition to on-site nursing staff and concierge physicians, there is an award winning culinary program.

Senior living community Drakes Terrace in San Rafael began using pooled saliva PCR testing in October, a method similar to that used by professional sports teams, to create a “safety bubble,” and giving the company the confidence to open up operationally. Recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the saliva PCR test was and will be given to all residents once a week and all associates twice a week.


Serving students in grades 4–12 with learning differences including dyslexia, nonverbal learning disorders and executive functioning difficulties (ADHD), Winston Preparatory School opened in San Rafael this fall. Students are accepted on a rolling basis and the school follows strict Covid-19 guidelines for learning.

How to Help

For more ways to support local businesses, go here.

For more on Marin:

Christina MuellerChristina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract PublishingSunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon SocietyPEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.