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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

Making the Most of the Holiday Season in Downtown Napa

By Craig Smith

Certainly few, if any, will ask Santa to bring them a 2021 that’s just like 2020. Most will agree that this is a year best viewed in the rearview mirror.

But that attitude, especially during the Holiday season misses the good that 2020 brought us. This year, we learned just how resilient we are, how to pivot like never before and how much we miss hugs.

So in spite of it all, we can sincerely wish each other Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or whatever this time of year means to you. And while there may be fewer people gathered around the tree to open gifts, or friends at the dinner table, we can nevertheless take in the good that the season offers.

Downtown Napa is still dressed for the season, and you are invited to come down and enjoy it. Bring the family and friends to Veterans Park and assemble at Napa’s Christmas tree, where you can sing carols and enjoy hot chocolate while you laugh with loved ones, all outside and socially distanced. Look around at all the lights on the bridges and rooftops or spend time around the three trees in Opera House Plaza. There unfortunately won’t be a Christmas Parade or tree lighting this year, but that doesn’t have to stop any of us from letting the spirit of the season settle upon us like a gentle snow.

Napa restaurants have made adjustments so that you can still raise a glass over a delicious Holiday meal with friends. And far from simply making outdoor dining at this time of year merely tolerable, some, such as Angele, have created a “Winter Wonderland,” as owner Bettina Rouas stated. “We’ve winterized the entire patio and erected an outdoor tent with a clear top for sky viewing.” Because the wind in Napa is predictable, Rouas put up siding where needed so that the air will be still for diners. “That, and we have heaters everywhere,” she added. Angele even has a covering over the front door so that servers with food can get from the kitchen to your table without wind or rain getting in the way.

Rouas has elevated the outdoor dining experience so that customers can experience what she wishfully calls, “Normal. Diners still enjoy the Angele experience. This is where you always come for yummy, comforting French food, and now is no different.” Decorative lights and a Christmas tree will keep the holiday mood alive throughout your meal.

Eric Keffer, owner of Cole’s Chop House, is also using a tent with a clear top and lots of heaters. “Once our customers sit down, they get the highest, most elegant experience anyone can expect.” Keffer said they never fully utilized their outdoor dining area, “and it’s beautiful. Cole’s gift to everyone is a special Holiday experience.

Throughout the pandemic, Cole’s has never closed. “We changed the model to include to-go so that we could keep our staff on board. They are the reason we’ve been successful, and we owe them and their families our support.”

Make the most of the holiday season. Dine and shop downtown, and keep your holiday spirit alive.


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