“It’s our dream restaurant. It’s exactly what we wanted it to be,” Hopelain told Eater SF. “I don’t want to change it to accommodate anything: our personal lives or what is happening around us or business pressures. We don’t want to change it to make [running it] easier, so it seemed like the right time to do it, while were still in love with it.”
The restaurant is centered around a large, wood-fired hearth upon which almost all of Camino’s dishes are prepared. It’s a physically demanding kitchen, which Moore has been tending constantly since the restaurant opened in 2008.
“At this age it just gets harder and harder. It’s a very physically demanding job,” says Hopelain. “I know that because worked on the line like five times this year because we were so short staffed.”
Staffing shortages and the Bay Area’s rising cost of living are just a few of the reasons behind closing the restaurant, which has been an extremely personal project from the start. Moore and Hopelain, both of whom worked for many years at Chez Panisse, founded a restaurant known for its sometimes strict dedication to its owners’ ethos, from buying organic to using whole animals. The menu changes daily, creating a environment that requires Moore’s constant attention to keep that vision alive, says Hopelain.
“He has a vision that is best played out when he is there and it just requires so much,” says Hopelain. “He is there all day from 9 a.m. til midnight and he loves it but he’s also in his mid-50s.”
When Eater spoke with the duo in May to celebrate ten years in business, their vision for the future was open-ended. “Without Russ in the kitchen, there’s no Camino,” said Hopelain at the time. “ My dream would be to have someone working here who we could hand it over to. I’m talking way down the line, but that would feel really good and then they could do whatever they wanted with it after that.”
Now, the restaurant has been sold to new, yet-to-be-announced owners. Until the liquor license is fully transferred in December, Moore and Hopelain plan to continue cooking, holding the book and dinner parties they’re known for, and adding a few extra “ragers” into the mix.
“You want to end something at the peak of it,” says Hopelain.”When you still love it and are proud of it, it hasn’t crushed you yet and you can still stand.”
In the meantime, the couple’s other restaurant, The Kebabery, will remain open. Stay tuned for more details on closing date, celebrations, and the restaurant’s new owners.