Fagiani's Rising

Fagiani’s Rising

Fagiani’s, the historic bar at 831 Main Street in Napa, is literally rising again. The figurative rising began in 2008, when the building’s new owner Steve Hasty cleared decades of dust from the old bar and opened the doors to a small group. The building had been sealed and its contents — cocktail glasses, cases of Coca-Cola, old matchbooks, a girlie calendar from the ’60s, even the old neon sign — untouched since 1976, shortly after Anita Andrews, one of owner Nicola Fagiani’s daughters, was murdered there. Deer heads mounted on the walls stared out, guests reflected in their glassy eyes for the first time in 32 years.

Those doors were a portal, transporting the group as far back as the late 1940s, from which most of Fagiani’s furnishings dated. Nick Fagiani purchased the sandstone building in 1945 and rechristened it Fagiani’s Cocktail Lounge and Liquor Store. He added the deco tiles in 1945, got the bar the way he liked it, and it remained largely unchanged thereafter — itself an artifact of a bygone era in Napa, one in which as many eight bars dotted Main Street, and hard men drank their way through them. As Muriel Fagiani told the Napa Register in 2008:

“Poppa’s bar was a men’s bar,” Muriel said. Workers from Basalt Rock and Mare Island Naval Shipyard would come, cash their checks and stay a while. For those getting off a graveyard shift, Fagiani’s opened at 6 a.m.

The physical rising began last month, as crews started work on adding a third floor, extending the 4,600-square-foot structure into the sky. Hasty has signed a lease with AvroKO, a New York-based restaurant design and concepting firm, which will build out and run the restaurant — now a three-story affair: the bar on the ground floor, the main dining room on the second floor and a new third-floor dining room with an outdoor rooftop seating area. The plan is to call it Fagiani’s.

AvroKO has had a hand in such bites as Stanton Social, European Union, and The Monday Room in New York, where it also designed and ran Double Crown, and continues to run Public. In San Francisco, AvroKO pitched in on the concept, and designed and made custom furniture for Michael Mina’s RN-74 But this will be the first West Coast restaurant it owns and operates.

A source tells TTG that AvroKO is considering using the original bar — a huge and sturdy affair made of Philippine mahogany with enough room for a couple of dozen to sit elbow to elbow — if they can get it.

Already the building is being brought up to modern code, and cosmetically tiles that had been added to facade that masked some of the window area from the original structure, dating back to 1904, have been pulled out, exposing the intact framework. But perhaps one of the most salient and exciting features is the rooftop addition. It’s one of the biggest changes to a building that still looks much the way it did when it was build more than a hundred years ago, even as its neighbors have fallen away. When the restored restaurant opens this year, diners can look out from the roof at a riverfront and new downtown Napa that didn’t exist when the front doors had last opened.