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Douglas Keane Plotting Cyrus Comeback in Sonoma

The Top Chef Masters winner wants to revive his two-Michelin-starred restaurant, shuttered in 2012.

Jeff Kan Lee

It's been a series of ups and downs for chef Douglas Keane since he lost a 2012 battle to keep open his two-Michelin-starred Cyrus after its building was purchased by a new owner. In the wake of Cyrus' closure, he's continued to run his more casual Healdsburg Bar & Grill (though he no longer cooks there) and his dog-rescue charity, took home the championship title on Top Chef Masters, and opened his DK Wings concept in the Graton Resort & Casino (which closed two months later; he now says it was a "wrong fit"). But Keane has kept the rights to the Cyrus name, and he's now looking to revive the restaurant on an empty parcel of land owned by Jackson Family Wines in the Alexander Valley, off Highway 128.

According to the Press-Democrat, that might be easier said than done. Jackson's owner has offered to lease the land to him, but Keane is facing opposition from local residents concerned over the increased traffic and the potential long-term impact on what's otherwise a rather rural area. (The agricultural vibe is exactly what Keane wants: "There's not really a restaurant in California wine country that's located in the middle of a vineyard," he says.) If it makes the cut, the new Cyrus will definitely be a destination, and likely a very pricey and luxurious one: Keane is planning to have only 36 seats, compared to the original restaurant's 85. He's been workshopping dishes, and he's even hoping to offer a Willy Wonka-esque "chocolate room" that guests will be able to enter for the dessert course. "I won't have a chocolate river, because that wouldn't be health-code viable, but it will be just as magical."

Regardless of whether he gets the go-ahead to build Cyrus on his preferred land, Keane says the restaurant is definitely coming back. "Cyrus is 100 percent going to happen, I just hope in Sonoma County." If all goes well, he's hoping to open the doors in 2016.