Chef-owner Douglas Keane closed his two-Michelin-starred restaurant Cyrus in 2012 after seven years of fine dining service. The closure, the forced result of a fractious dispute between Keane and his Healdsburg landlord, was meant to be temporary as Keane regrouped and reopened in a new location. Now, Keane tells the SF Chronicle, it’s not happening.
As recently as 2017, Keane’s management team confirmed to Eater SF that the restaurant was on track to open in 2019 “in a new building and location, taking advantage of the breathtaking vineyard views in Alexander Valley, Sonoma County.”
That deal, which was to occupy space on land controlled by the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, did not work out, despite involvement from high profile investors like Sean Parker (known for founding Napster and for his elaborate wedding). Designed by Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig, it would have been an architectural landmark that took diners through a multi-room journey during dinner with a 36-seat, glass-enclosed dining room above the vineyards.
After that proved unsuccessful, the latest and last attempt to reopen Cyrus in Sonoma County was the purchase of a Sonoma County property with a hotel on it. When it, too, fell through, Keane decided that it was time to call it and take some time to clear his head.
“I do miss cooking that food and using those ingredients and working with a well-honed team and obsessing about making things perfect,” Keane told Eater SF. “I just don’t honestly have that fire in me [to pursue it] now.”
All the while Keane has continued to operate the Healdsburg Bar & Grill and St. Helena’s Roadhouse 29 (formerly Two Birds/One Stone) with his business partner Nick Peyton. Keane says he and Peyton are exhausted after years of planning and fighting for their vision. For now, they’re focusing on what works, serving food in their neighborhood restaurants.
Keane isn’t sure he’ll ever even consider trying to open Cyrus — or a restaurant like it— again. Besides being exhausted, there’s no retreating from the big plans he’d been working towards.
“I don’t want to settle. The concept was so unique and really forward thinking,” says Keane. “I don’t want to just open up a place. Cyrus, the first one was great, but it was also very much all the things I’d seen in great restaurants, like canapés and the caviar cart, with my take on them.”
“This restaurant was going to be our unique concept and our unique mark on the culinary world,” says Keane. “I just don’t want to go do something that’s been done before, if I’m going to put that much effort into it.”
Now, he’s planning to write a book on the hospitality industry, which he feels has been harmed by factors like Yelp, the cult of the celebrity chef, and the quest for stars and accolades. “That’s what I’m focusing on now; I think it’s a broken industry,” says Keane. “It’s unhealthy and its got to change.”
Stay tuned for more on that, though Keane says he doesn’t plan on having any breaking news for quite a while.