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And Just Like That... Badlands Is Back

Plus, a new restaurant from a French Laundry alum opens in St. Helena

The exterior of Castro bar Badlands during its closure days, with mural-covered boards over the windows and doors.
The exterior of Badlands during its closure days
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Dianne de Guzman is a deputy editor at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, upcoming openings, and pop-ups.

After shutting down for three years due to the pandemic, Castro bar Badlands has finally returned as of Wednesday, October 4, according to the Bay Area Reporter. At times, it didn’t seem like this day would ever arrive; Badlands owner Les Natali previously announced in July 2020 that the bar would close permanently and that a new business would take its place. Eventually, he reversed course and the bar was on track to reopen in February 2023, but a licensing issue caused another hiccup on the way to reopening.

Nightclub owner T.J. Bruce joined Badlands as co-manager with Natali in the spring, and the bar has finally, officially reopened. The San Francisco Standard documented the opening night scene and the locals who were glad to be back in the space, including San Francisco supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who told the publication he wasn’t sure if the bar would ever reopen. “I’m a little surprised and absolutely delighted,” Mandelman said. “The neighborhood is suffering from vacancies and getting that place up and running is good for the area.”

This French Laundry alum’s new restaurant opens in St. Helena

Eliott Bell, former sous chef at famed French Laundry, has thrown open the doors to his casual family restaurant, Charlie’s, as of Thursday, October 5. The restaurant, located at 1327 Railroad Avenue, is the former Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen site, which closed in July 2018. The San Francisco Chronicle says diners can expect “an American menu that blurs the boundaries of classic, comfort and fancy fare.”

Burning Barrel Brewing Company launches a spirits line

Most beer aficionados know Rancho Cordova’s Burning Barrel for its line of brews, but now the company is delving into the world of spirits. In an announcement of its new alcohol line, Burning Barrel Spirits, the company shares that the distillery was the initial concept but given the lengthy distillation process, it “decided to first establish a strong foundation” with its line of beers. It’s not quite launched just yet and is closed off to the public for now, but interested folks can follow their journey via Instagram at @burningbarrelspirits.

Jolie-Laide winemaker dinner

Fans of wine brand Jolie-Laide may want to save the date for Thursday, November 2, when winemakers Scott and Jenny Schultz will be at Octavia for a special dinner. The Schultzes will showcase “limited-release Jolie Laide wines alongside a tasting menu paired to make them sing,” an Instagram post for the event shares. A portion of the proceeds for this dinner will go to World Central Kitchen, No Kid Hungry, and the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank. Tickets are $175 per person, and reservations are available via OpenTable.