We’re coming home! This weekend, Williams-Sonoma is returning to the place where it all began back in 1956, when Chuck Williams purchased a small Sonoma hardware shop and converted into a store for passionate home cooks. Now, we’re thrilled to reopen that original location as a landmark store and cooking school.
“This is a momentous occasion coming home to Sonoma where the company began. It is our goal to honor this special place as well as Chuck’s legacy with an inspiring new destination that reflects the values upon which Chuck built the business,” says Janet Hayes, President of Williams-Sonoma.
The store captures the character of the location’s earlier era by showcasing many of Chuck’s iconic finds, from Le Creuset cookware to Apilco porcelain dinnerware. An avid cook, Chuck introduced cooking and serving equipment that he found in his travels to France — tools that had never before been available to home cooks. The items caught on, and he became known for his passion for personal service, viewing his customers as friends. His love of the first store’s location is reflected in the name of our company.
The new location showcases many of the original design details, including floor tiles and signature shelving, that served as inspiration for the look of early Williams-Sonoma stores. Fixtures and materials were salvaged and incorporated to maintain the integrity of the architecture.
“We wanted to restore the building and rebuild the store as it was when Chuck first built it himself,” says Bud Cope, our store development lead. “It’s our job to capture and preserve every unique detail that made it so special.”
In the new store, we’ll celebrate Chuck’s spirit of innovation by offering our newest discoveries and most popular products. An open-air edible garden behind the store features a communal table, as well as edible herbs and seasonal produce for the onsite culinary team to use in demonstrations and hands-on cooking classes. Chuck’s former residence, located adjacent to the store, has been transformed into a design center, outfitted with furnishings and decor from the Williams-Sonoma Home collection.
An in-store cooking school carries on Chuck’s commitment not just to equip but to educate the home cook. The school allows for hands-on instruction of up to 12 students — from complete beginners to advanced cooks — and our classes will teach students how to master techniques and re-create dishes in their own homes. In addition to classes, the school will also host a Junior Chef program, Cookbook Clubs, Artisan’s Markets and a Chef Series led by local chefs and culinary experts. We can also create customized, private classes for a more personalized cooking experience.
Join us in celebrating this exciting return to Sonoma! We’re hosting a complimentary pancake breakfast for the local community on Saturday, October 4, 2014 at 8:30 a.m. in the Sonoma Plaza, before the store officially opens to the public at 9. Hope to see you there!