Patrons of St. Helena’s landmark gas station, Napa Valley Petroleum, can now fuel up on a whole lot more than gas. Local winemaker and restaurateur Joel Gott of the Gott’s Roadside burger chain, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary, has opened a sophisticated and contemporary convenience store behind the pumps in a long-vacant retail space. Simply named the Station, the new store features a robust coffee menu and fresh, relatively healthy grab-and-go items for breakfast and lunch.
“The St. Helena food scene has gotten a little stale, so I think any new business that can breathe some life into this town is needed,” says the Station general manager Emelie Poisson. It’s true that St. Helena’s Main Street hasn’t welcomed a new dining concept in quite some time, and the town’s fast-casual lunch and breakfast options are limited to spots like Model Bakery and Sunshine Market. “In talking to people and walking around, everyone is liking it, everyone likes the bright space, and just that it’s something different in town.”
Joel Gott, a St. Helena resident, announced he’d purchased the old Napa Valley Petroleum station last year. At the same time, Gott revealed he was taking over the old Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, which had just closed, and would use the space as a commissary kitchen for Gott’s Roadside and the Station.
Drawing inspiration from Tartine Manufactory, the Station is squeaky clean and light-filled with white tiling and soft wood accents. A pair of garage doors roll up to unveil the food counter, while a dry goods section sells everything from flowers and fruit to flip flops, Three Twins Ice Cream, and artisan food products from nearby Clif Family Winery. For customers who aren’t yet ready to hit the road, there’s a back patio with benches and umbrellas.
Fresh-baked breakfast items include an assortment of pastries, like almond croissants, glazed doughnuts, a special doughnut of the day (last Saturday, it was a churro doughnut with dulce de leche filling), and Nutella banana bread made with the Station’s own chocolate-hazelnut spread. Early risers will also find breakfast sandwiches and an egg taco (sweet potato, Oaxaca cheese, and scrambled egg on a blue corn and flour tortilla, topped with salsa verde).
For lunch, the Station currently has a trio of baguette sandwiches, two focaccia sandwiches, an egg salad sandwich on white bread, and a grain bowl. But the food menu really revolves around the coffee program, Poisson says. The Station selected San Francisco–based Sightglass Coffee as their bean provider for espresso, macchiatos, lattes, cold brew, and more. The Sightline cold brew is even incorporated into their signature cold brew blend, consisting also of concentrate, ultra-rich barista milk from Strauss Creamery, and vanilla-hazelnut syrup from Sonoma Syrup company. “It’s kind of sweet, really rich, and almost tastes, in a good way, like melted ice cream,” says Poisson. Those in need of a boost can also order a chai or matcha latte (both available iced) and kombucha on tap.
Starting September 27, the Station is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday, extending to Thursday through Sunday in October. Eventually, they plan to open seven days a week.