October 4, 1999
FALL CITY--Herbfarm owners Carrie Van Dyck and Ron Zimmerman finally have the permits to rebuild their four-star restaurant, destroyed by a late-night fire in January of 1997. But now it looks like the new eatery will be constructed in Woodinville.
Van Dyck says the cost of the building permits is one of the reasons for the planned move. She says they paid $17,000 as a down payment for the permits, but now the county wants another $22,000, plus an $8,000 bond to pave the shoulder of the road.
"We can't afford it," she said last week. "Most likely we will be moving to Woodinville."
Van Dyck said the 12 acres in Fall City, including the popular herb gardens, house, barn, retail shop, and the offices are for sale.
"We are hoping to sell the whole business so that it will continue on," Van Dyck said. "There is a lot of solace in the garden and we hope that will continue to be provided."
During the months following the fire, Van Dyck and Zimmerman kept the gardens and retail nursery going and found an interim home for the restaurant in the barrel room of Hedges Cellars in Issaquah.
They optimistically forged ahead with plans to rebuild the restaurant in a bed-and-breakfast style on the Fall City property. Design drawings for the proposed Northwest traditional-style structure showed room for classrooms, a sitting room/library, private garden, and a basement wine cellar. But permit delays, drainage problems, and increasing costs took their toll over the last two years.
"Leaving Fall City will be painful after 25 years here," Van Dyck said. "But the Woodinville location is very nice. They are constructing now to our specifications."
Plans put the new 80-seat Herbfarm restaurant next to Willows Lodge, an 88-room deluxe hotel being built in the winery district of Woodinville. The couple will be leasing their new quarters and plan to focus the business on the restaurant, which is expected to open next June.
Van Dyck said the five acres surrounding the building will be landscaped with edible plants for use in the restaurant, but there will probably not be a retail outlet. The cooking school, however, will continue in the new place.
The Herbfarm began around 1973 when Zimmerman's mother, Lola, began putting out some homegrown herbs on a bench by the side of the road and took payments in a Mason jar. Eventually, the business expanded to include the extensive gardens and retail nursery, famous for its herb-focused classes and events, such as Lavender and Basil Weekends. The Herbfarm has also hosted the Northwest Wine Festival, and in November, a special wine tasting and dinner will take place at the restaurant in Issaquah.
The restaurant, internationally known for its nine-course, five-hour dinners, evolved from herb cooking classes Van Dyck and Zimmerman began when they entered the business with Zimmerman's parents in 1986. Even before the restaurant burned, the owners had requested a permit to expand the seating area, which served only 36 people.
"It's always been full and we have an active waiting list," Van Dyck said. "But we always encourage people to call."
The restaurant attracts gourmets from around the world, and the dinners, priced now at $140 per person, have always been booked solid months in advance. Those interested in making reservations for dinner may call 206-784-2222 or 425-222-7103.