Kyle and Katina Connaughton Depart Sonoma County’s Little Saint

Co-owners Laurie and Jeff Ubben take sole ownership of the Healdsburg restaurant; plus, the Cooper's Hawk winery and restaurant group opens its first location in Iowa.

Kyle and Katina Connaughton Depart Sonoma County’s Little Saint
Little Saint will close temporarily so that the menus can be revamped and the first floor transformed into an all-day café and lounge. (Courtesy of Little Saint)
Jan 11, 2023

In December, the team at Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner Little Saint announced that co-owners Laurie and Jeff Ubben would take full control of the plant-based, farm-to-table restaurant in downtown Healdsburg, Calif.

Philanthropists and owners of DuMol Winery, the Ubbens opened Little Saint in 2022, in a partnership with Kyle and Katina Connaughton, co-owners of Grand Award winner SingleThread Farms, and their Vertice Hospitality group. As of Jan. 6, the Ubbens are the sole owners. They are closing operations for a few weeks while they develop new menus in collaboration with Little Saint Farm and reimagine the lower level of the restaurant’s building as a convivial, all-day cafe and lounge. Chef de cuisine Bryan Oliver, wine director Alex Sarovich and executive pastry chef Baruch Ellsworth are staying on.

In a statement, the Ubbens said the intent of Little Saint was to celebrate local farmers and talent while standing up for what they believe in—kindness to the community, planet and all beings. “Under the direction of Kyle and Katina Connaughton and Vertice Hospitality—who began this journey with us—we have been able to launch Little Saint,” the Ubbens stated. “Thanks to the efforts of this team and our dedicated farmers and vendors, we have laid a foundation for culinary innovation. It's with much gratitude and excitement that Little Saint is ready to pick up where Vertice leaves off and will manage all food and beverage operations.” The Ubbens said they remain devoted to the restaurant’s plant-based cuisine.

 Portrait of Kyle and Katina Connaughton outside of SingleThread restaurant
SingleThread founders Kyle and Katina Connaughton have moved on to focus on other projects, including agricultural experiences on their farm. (Alanna Hale)

"We are proud to have been a part of this very special collaboration within our community and to have the opportunity to participate in Little Saint’s ideation to operating all the way through its first year,” said the Connaughtons in a statement. “We are excited to see what’s next for Little Saint and to watch it grow and thrive under new management.”

The Connaughtons noted that they and Vertice, which they co-own with CEO Tony Greenberg, are focused on creating new SingleThread agricultural experiences on its farm in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley and have other projects in development.—A.R.


 Interior of Cooper's Hawk winery and restaurant in Cline, Iowa, with dining tables, a floor-to-ceiling window, visible rafters and a glassed-in wine barrel room
Winemaking features prominently in the design of the dining room for the Cooper's Hawk in the town of Clive. (Coopers Hawk)

Cooper’s Hawk Opens First Iowa Location

In December, Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant entered Iowa, with a new location in Clive, part of the Greater Des Moines area. The popular urban winery–restaurant group, founded by Tim McEnery, premiered in 2005 in Orland Park, Ill., and now has more than 50 venues across 11 states, including the Esquire by Cooper’s Hawk location in Chicago, which has held a Best of Award of Excellence for its wine list since 2020.

“Our team was most excited about the community in Clive,” a Cooper’s Hawk representative told Wine Spectator via email. “Everyone has been incredibly welcoming and excited—Clive has incredible liveliness and energy, which is so fun and important when bringing a new concept into a community.”

Executive chef and chief culinary officer Matt McMillin oversees the location’s menu, which focuses on contemporary American cuisine, while executive kitchen manager Corey Meier is responsible for the day-to-day operations. Drunken shrimp, soy-ginger Atlantic salmon, red wine–braised short ribs and shrimp and scallop risotto are just a few of the dishes on the extensive menu of about 100 items. Each is paired with a Cooper’s Hawk wine (indicated on the menu) made at the main Cooper’s Hawk winery in Illinois and aged on-site at Cooper’s Hawk locations.

As with all Cooper’s Hawk locations, Master Sommelier Emily Wines oversees the beverage program, and she has assembled a new team of wine professionals for the Clive restaurant. “Our team travels the globe looking for the very best grapes and when they are particularly impressed—whether it be in Chile, France, California or Washington—they work with the wine grower to begin crafting our wine,” Wines explained. “We nurture each wine according to its individual needs to craft the best wine possible.”

The Clive location features both indoor and outdoor seating with a welcoming and casual atmosphere, along with spaces for private dining and events. Like other Cooper’s Hawk venues, it also offers wine tastings, membership to the Cooper’s Hawk wine club and a retail wine shop. Several more Cooper’s Hawk locations are in the works for Arizona, Florida and Illinois.—E.G.

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