Monday, February 19 , 2018, 12:25 pm | Fair 56º

 
 
 
 

Pico Restaurant in Los Alamos Combines Local, International Wines with Fresh Fare

Armed with wine industry and restaurant experience, Will Henry and Kali Kopley open eatery named after notorious bandit

Pico Bartender Sean Hite, behind bar at right, and server Jay Brenneman, left, take orders for wine at Pico in Los Alamos.
Pico Bartender Sean Hite, behind bar at right, and server Jay Brenneman, left, take orders for wine at Pico in Los Alamos. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk photo)

With a father he calls “one of the original foodies” who traveled the world with a “Zagat for his bible,” combined with his own years making and marketing wine, Will Henry’s choice to open a restaurant seems to be a natural one.

He and his wife, Kali Kopley, purchased the Los Alamos General Store and opened their restaurant, Pico, in late winter.

Pico at 458 Bell St. is housed in what formerly was Café Quakenbush, which had an art gallery adjacent to the eatery.

The restaurant opens at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday for dinner.

That gallery space is now Pico’s wine shop and contains a bar and two walls lined with shelves of local and international wines.

Henry’s father, Warner Henry, founded The Henry Wine Group, a wine import, wholesale and brokerage firm with offices in Benicia and Washington, D.C.

After graduating from college, the younger Henry worked for Leeuwin Estate in Margaret River, Australia, before returning to work for the family business for many years.

Henry then took a break from the world of wine, and for about 15 years worked as a professional photographer and journalist. He also founded and led the nonprofit Save the Waves Coalition.

Henry returned to the wine industry with the 2012 vintage, teaming up with veteran Santa Barbara County winemaker Lane Tanner to launch Santa Maria Valley-based Lumen Wines. The duo produce chardonnay, pinot noir, grenache and grenache blanc, he said.

On his own, Henry also crafts wine in a 12-ounce can under the label Nuclear Wine Company.

In Los Alamos, a tiny town already home to a handful of other popular restaurants, how do Henry and Kopley hope to stand out?

“I don’t really think we are trying to do something different; we just want to do something very well, and bring our personalities to the business,” he said.

As soon as August or September, they plan to offer outdoor seating in a rear garden, where they hope to offer beekeeping and cheese-making classes.

Pico can be found in the Los Alamos General Store, a Bell Street building dating from the 1880s, according to new owner Will Henry. Click to view larger
Pico can be found in the Los Alamos General Store, a Bell Street building dating from the 1880s, according to new owner Will Henry. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk photo)

There’s history behind the name, Pico: “I really geeked out on Los Alamos history when I bought the General Store last year,” Henry explained. “It’s amazing to own an 1880-era building and become part of its long history ...”

“In my search through ‘Little L.A.’ historical archives, I stumbled upon the legend of Salomon Pico, a notorious ‘​Californio bandito’ who terrorized the Los Alamos Valley in the 1850s,” he continued.

“Local Mexican families, to whom California had recently belonged, treated him as a kind of folk hero, because he was robbing the wealthy gold rushers who were invading the state in large numbers, and he was such a good horseman that no sheriff could ever catch him. In fact, they couldn’t settle the town of Los Alamos until he had been run out of the valley.  He was also an inspiration for the Legend of Zorro, and cousin of the last Mexican governor of the Golden State, Pio Pico.”

Matching Henry’s wine background is that of Kopley’s in the restaurant business.

In 2007, she opened Uncorked, a wine bar in Squaw Valley, and to this day remains its owner/operator, he noted.

Over the next five years, Kopley opened two more restaurants and two more wine bars: Soupa, in Squaw Valley, and Petra, in Northstar, and two additional Uncorked wine bars, in Tahoe City and Truckee.

When it came to hiring for Pico, the couple found local chef Drew Terp, who came from​ Mattei’s Tavern, the Los Olivos restaurant now closed for renovations. Terp has an extensive culinary background at several Las Vegas and New York restaurants, among them barMASA and Shaboo.

On a recent Tuesday —Pico’s weekly Locals’ Night, with 50 percent off all entrees — the restaurant was bustling with efficient servers and contented diners.

For a small and relatively new restaurant, Pico’s wine list is something to behold and showcases the owners’ expansive knowledge.

Along with a healthy selection of Santa Barbara County, Central Coast and Northern California wines, the list includes selections from Australia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain.

“The decision to offer imports to our customers was a challenging one prior to opening, especially because our local wine region has such a wine variety of amazing wines to offer,” Henry explained. “As a local winemaker, I know that all too well.

“But we wanted to offer a full-selection wine shop to Santa Barbara’s wine country — which didn’t exist between Los Olivos and San Luis Obispo until we opened.”

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at www.centralcoastwinepress.com, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via [email protected].

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties


Gary Welterlen and Carla Reeves
"We both love this business. We strive to make life long relationships from each real estate transaction."

Full Profile >