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Chez Panisse opened its doors in 1971, started by Alice Waters and an assortment of idealistic friends. A neighborhood bistro named after a character in Marcel Pagnol's 1930's trilogy of movies (‘Marius,’ ‘Fanny,’ and ‘Cesar’), the Restaurant and Café are a homage to the sentiment, comedy and informality of these classic films.
From the beginning, Alice and her partners tried to do things the way they would like them done at a dinner party at home. The restaurant, located downstairs, is open for dinner Monday through Saturday, by reservation only. The dinner, served in two seatings from 6 to 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., has always consisted of only one fixed-price menu, of three to four courses. The menu changes every night, designed to be appropriate to the season and composed to show off the finest ingredients obtainable including meat, fish, and poultry.