Historically speaking, “Fern Bar” is an American slang term for an trendy, upscale bar frequented by single twenty and thirty-somethings, often decorated with an array of greenery, including but not limited to ferns and other members of the plant kingdom.
The phrase peaked in popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Today in the Bay Area, however, Fern Bar is the name of Sebastopol’s new and immediately beloved restaurant, imbibing the North Bay with live music and drinks worth crossing a bridge for.
Bob Cut ventured over to Fern Bar this season and logged a few hours in the moody, glamorous space. We got to watch the sausage being made, so to speak, as we arrived at the oh-so-cool spot before opening time. We saw the prep, the misting of plants, the hustle of staff much like the crew of a movie before the director calls action.
A movie set is truly a near-perfect description of this Sebastopol bar, as the aesthetic is strong and on brand, offering a transportive experience for restaurant-goers. From the music to the mood lighting and the living, breathing plants that blanket most surfaces, it’s easy to forget the world from where you came once you set foot in Fern Bar. Co-founder Sam Levy explained that from design to execution, the interior of Fern Bar was premeditated and intentional. The goal was to give Sebastopol something the town had never seen before.
Equally as crucial as the design and physical restaurant buildout was the hiring of staff for Fern Bar. Levy said he wanted to make sure the team assembled was completely bought into the mission and passionate about the work to be done. He also was adamant that the team atmosphere be supportive and close-knit
“I don’t like the word ‘server’ – we’re not servants,” Levy said of his team. “I like to think of us as captains.”
Coming from a strict, at times unhealthy environment at past restaurants, Levy wanted the team at Fern Bar to be founded on a shared pride for their work and a genuine care for their craft. Bar Director Alec Vlastnik, who has also manned the bars of Spoonbar! and Perch + Plow, takes that mission and runs with it, moving and cocktail shaking a plethora of drinks with speed and diligence, right on the money with that perfect fizzy balance each time a beverage is served.
Since its opening in late December, Fern Bar has been attracting people be the troves. The immediate positive response speaks to the tremendous need for something fresh and out of the ordinary. And truly – Fern Bar has all the trappings of a proper escape.
The drink menu rivals any top-notch SF bar without a shade of doubt. What’s more, they’ve taken the “mock” out of mocktail and lent Fern Bar’s non-alcoholic drinks the pomp and circumstance we never knew they deserved. With such variety and flavor, being your tipsy friends’ D.D. just got a whole lot more enjoyable. (We recommend the Blue Dream – it tastes like a cotton candy marshmallow cloud and is the color of a perfect summer sky.)
Food and drinks aside, it’s the internal vibe of Fern Bar that keeps locals and out of towners alike coming back multiple times a month – often multiple times a weekend, even. From our perch at the bar, we heard a considerable amount of passing positive buzz. One bar-goer sipped her Hot-Blooded cocktail and mused, “Now, this place I could never get tired of.” Put that on yelp, will you sister?
From a personal level, few times have we seen such a tangible camaraderie amongst a staff. Fern Bar, can you feed and imbibe us every night of the week? We could sit at this marble countertop until closing time, and afterwards if you let us, too.
// Fern Bar is located at 6780 Depot Street, Suite 120, in Sebastopol. Operating hours are Thurs-Mon from 4p.m. to midnight. Photography by Isabella Welch.