California Home and Design Restaurant Design Award

By Annette Hanami

When restaurateur Lowell Sheldon and Natalie Goble found their dream location in Sebastopol to open the new roadside eatery Handline, they enlisted San Francisco studio RareField Design/Build to translate their vision. Formerly occupied by Foster’s Freeze in the 1960s, the team worked with the clients to reimagine the space into a contemporary, casual restaurant that perfectly complements the California coast that inspires its menu.

For years, architects and designer have been pushing the indoors out, “but at RareField we aim to push the outdoors in,” said Quigley. Natural daylight enters the space through translucent Kalwall screens that, when slid open, usher in fresh breezes. The rugged California coast weaves its way throughout the design with the placement of nautical lamps, wave motifs made of rusted steel, and oxidized oak recalling weathered ships plying the rough seas.

RareField pays homage to the former Foster’s Freeze by designing a modern play on the fast-dining concept, but in an elevated style. The traditional order counter was reconceived with a more modern, welcoming approach while in the dining room. the eponymous “soda fountain” dishes up classic soft-serve ice cream, and this time around, wine and beer on tap. Owner Sheldon added personal touches–such as the painted fist art and a whimsical undersea diorama in the partition wall shadow box–that capture the spirit of today’s roadside eatery that’s fun, family-friendly, and swimming in style