Has the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic dashed your plans for a European vacation? Park 1039 hopes would-be travelers will instead trek to downtown San Luis Obispo for a meal that will temporarily transport them to their dream destination.
The establishment, which celebrated its grand opening in March 2021, has been evolving and expanding its staff, menu, and event lineup, and now boasts two chefs from Michelin- and James Beard-rated restaurants, two certified sommeliers, and a wine cellar 2,000 bottles strong representing 26 countries.
You might even hear French spoken by Park 1039 employees, several of whom have visited and worked in France.
- Photo By Cherish Whyte
- SAY CHEESE Sommelier Jenna Isaacs can help guests assemble luxury gift baskets featuring a cornucopia of house-made, local, and imported items, including dozens of cheeses and more than 2,000 wines from around the world.
Owner Steven Goodale is exceptionally proud of his team, with every member possessing unique talent and expertise, and fully embracing the company's guiding principles of "kindness, curiosity, passion, and truth," he said.
Chef Brendan Collins and wine director Jenna Isaacs headline the kitchen cast. The career and life partners met at Santa Monica's landmark restaurant Mélisse. From there they worked at various restaurants in Santa Barbara before moving to San Luis Obispo in 2020 to help launch Park 1039.
Isaacs also brings a huge body of wine knowledge to the table. She is a certified sommelier working toward a master sommelier designation, and a certified specialist of wine studying for French wine scholar designation through the Society of Wine Educators.
Rounding out the team is a second certified sommelier, Vanessa Igel, also working toward a master sommelier designation, and sous chef Sarah Carlisle, who began her career at award-winning French restaurant Marché in Eugene, Oregon.
- Photo By Cherish Whyte
- AFTER AN ITALIAN APERITIF Chef Brendan Collins' seasonal creations capitalize on local ingredients, such as sea bass with crushed zucchini, roasted summer squash, and blistered cherry tomatoes.
Goodale himself is no epicurean slouch. The Central Coast native has spent the majority of his life in the food and beverage industry, including a stint as general manager of Custom House and Mr. Rick's in Avila Beach.
"I've worked in many different environments with many different responsibilities," he said. "This concept is one I always wished to see. I've been seeking and celebrating products and experiences like these both while at home or when traveling for many years. I decided to take a chance and see if others might enjoy the finest products from both local and global [producers]."
While Isaacs works with importers from around the world—including a significant contingent of Central Coast winemakers—Collins scours local farmers' markets twice weekly for menu inspiration.
"Our philosophy is to start with the best ingredients we can find and to respect those ingredients, Collins said. "If you start with amazing products, you can really start to explore the depth and versatility the ingredient has to offer."
- Photo By Cherish Whyte
- DREAM TEAM From left, owner Steven Goodale, wine director Jenna Isaacs, and chef Brendan Collins collaborate on culinary development at Park 1039.
Both Collins and Isaacs approach food and wine from the end product. It's not about the final creation, they say. It's about the strength of the ingredients and the palate of the consumer.
"I love good service, and I love making sure people have a great time," Isaacs said. "Being a sommelier is really important to me because of the fact that you can bring people together and create beautiful memories for anybody as long as you do it right. It's less about what I know, and more about how to facilitate people getting the best experience for them."
Goodale's European-meets-Central-Coast concept welcomes guests to an intimate 1,100-square-foot space with limited interior seating—that will soon be expanding with a chef's counter—combined with a wood-paneled parklet flanked by olive trees and succulents.
The immersive ambience extends to a storefront marketplace, with the crown jewel being a cheese case featuring 50 to 100 rotating varieties. Isaacs says current favorites include Italian salva cremasco and French d'affinois brebis—"a melt-in-the-mouth, creamy variety made from sheep's milk."
"We also love our crazy-delicious selection of imported butters," she added.
Additionally, Park 1039 will soon stock the latest collection of bars and pralines from Paris' La Maison du Chocolat as well as Italian specialty items such as Gentile's handmade fusilli lunghi pasta, Sicilian olive oil from Geraci bottled in individually crafted ceramics, and Fabbri wild cherries.
Six months into its debut, Park 1039's customer base is growing, wine club membership is expanding, and the team is preparing to launch a slew of special events.
"It's been going really well," Isaacs said. "The community is amazing here. People have such good palates for wine and food. We've been really excited to get to meet all these people, and we already have regulars, and that is such a cool feeling."
One regular, Linda Sanpei of San Luis Obispo, said, "I seem to find a reason to drop by just about every week, be it to introduce a friend to Park 1039, host a business acquaintance, celebrate, or simply reward myself after a long week. Park 1039 is my guilty pleasure."
- Photo By Cherish Whyte
- TCHIN TCHIN! Park's Classic Cru wine club members wet their whistles on two French and one Italian selection in August.
She added that Isaacs' "passion for selecting unique wine and telling the stories of the curated international wine list she has amassed is nothing shy of remarkable," while Collins "is a genius for blending unique flavors in the dishes he creates."
Customers wishing to experience Park 1039's favorite wines on a regular basis can join its Contemporary Club or the pricier Classic Cru—featuring rare bottles.
"These wines will have vintage, color, and varietal diversity to create excitement in your collection," Isaacs said.
Both tiers include "three incredible wines every month with detailed write-ups and pairing suggestions, as well as club perks," Isaacs added.
Perks include first access to events and dinners, 10 percent off wine in house, 20 percent off bottles to go, and exclusive "wine and cheese flight" nights. The team will soon launch a more price-friendly quarterly subscription, as well as an elite collector level. Park 1039 even plans to launch a cheese club.
Among several events on the horizon is Burgundy at the Park on Sept. 12. Guests will enjoy Burgundy wines paired with a three-course dinner. An optional add-on features Champagne and caviar. Tickets are available via Park 1039's website.
Next up—with details still being finalized—is Nouveau Party at the Park on Nov. 18. Event highlights include a comparison of French wines with local interpretations of Beaujolais nouveau as well as an optional blind tasting that Isaacs says will be free for guests who call all three wines correctly.
Goodale says he is humbled by guests' support for Park 1039, and "excited to bring this concept to its planned fruition."
"We can't wait to introduce more experiences featuring expert-led classes, exclusive winemaker dinners, guest chef collaborations, and multi-course tasting menus," he added. "Thanks to the support of our local community, we have so much more to show you, and can't wait to share." Δ
Flavor Writer Cherish Whyte visits "Europe" often. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.