Playa Restaurant in the News

Playa Restaurant Sold to Local Restaurateurs

Bill and Vanessa Higgins and Peter Schumacher are enthusiastic to follow owner’s vision and develop Playa into a special Mill Valley gathering place

MILL VALLEY, CA – June xx, 2016 – After two years of building out the space at 41 Throckmorton Avenue in Mill Valley, Karen Goldberg received an offer she couldn’t refuse. Three experienced restaurateurs, business partners and Mill Valley residents Bill and Vanessa Higgins and Peter Schumacher contacted her last month with an opportunity she wasn’t even looking for… to buy Playa which she was ready to open in August.

Goldberg, owner of Mill Valley’s Tamalpie Pizzeria, has spent the past two-years developing Playa. “I was all set to open in August when I received the call from Bill Higgins. It turns out, he also had a dream of a restaurant at this location ever since it was Sonapa Farms.”

Karen Goldberg, Vanessa Higgins, Bill Higgins and Peter Schumacher toasting Playa —June 2016

Karen Goldberg, Vanessa Higgins, Bill Higgins and Peter Schumacher toasting Playa —June 2016

The new owners recognized the commitment it took to build Playa and they fell in love with the concept, location, and design—especially the Redwood grove visible off the back and the preservation of the old brick construction.

So when the deal included honoring Goldberg’s original concept, she was persuaded to let the team buy her out. “Playa has been an exciting project and it’s bittersweet for me to say good bye. But I am passing the torch to a group of professionals that I have admired and respected for 25 years.”

All the details were worked out easily, and the collaboration has become a win-win for everyone involved, including the city and people of Mill Valley. “I love our community and wanted to give people what they wanted – a fresh take on Mexican food in the heart of downtown Mill Valley, added Goldberg. “I’m excited to see how this amazing team will make Playa a beloved spot, and years from now know I had a part in it.”

Goldberg will continue to run Tamalpie, an Italian restaurant and pizzeria with Chef Scott Warner at the helm, also in Mill Valley.

Location with Sentimental History
Formerly The Champagne French Bakery Café since 2002, and the legendary Sonapa Farms deli and café from 1959 to 1995.


Playa is set to open later this summer as a regional Mexican restaurant and bar in downtown Mill Valley. The menu will feature the Marin golden triad of local-sustainable-organic food. Playa will be a relaxing and fun gathering place with a full bar specializing in craft tequilas and mescals.

ADDRESS: 41 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley


KAREN GOLDBERG: Goldberg is no newcomer to the restaurant business. More than two decades ago, she opened Rustico restaurant in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill district. A native of Pittsburgh, Pa. who has lived in Mill Valley for nearly 30 years, Goldberg closed Rustico in 1996 and then bought Annabelle’s, in the space that is now Vasco on Throckmorton Ave. at Bernard Street in Mill Valley. Goldberg opened Tamalpie Bar and Pizzeria in Mill Valley in early 2012, and her second project was sweet-themed pop-up shop BonBon, sold to HoneyMoon Ice Cream in August 2015.

BILL HIGGINS: Began his career working for Richard Melman and Lettuce Entertain you in Chicago as the General Manager of the famed Pump Room. Moving out to the Bay Area in the early 70’s he has become a prolific restaurateur and owner of Real Restaurants, the Mill Valley resident is behind the uber-successful Marin Restaurants Buckeye Roadhouse and Bungalow 44 in Mill Valley, Picco and Pizzeria Picco in Larkspur, as well as Bar Bocce, in Sausalito. His many other well-known restaurants in San Francisco and Napa — including Pizzeria Tra Vigne, Zero Zero, Fog City and Bix.

PETER SCHUMACHER: Born and raised in Switzerland, Peter Schumacher grew up under the tutelage of his family’s restaurants learning the breadth of the business from the kitchen to the front-of-house. He relocated to New York City to work at the Grand Central Oyster Bar and the Drake Hotel where he worked with Jean George Vongerichten. In 1992, Peter migrated to San Francisco with his wife Liz and joined the managing team at BIX. In 1999 he landed into the newly renovated Buckeye Roadhouse and has realized his dream of creating a sophisticated yet comforting location. Now as General Manager and Co-Owner of both the Buckeye Roadhouse and sister restaurant Bungalow 44, Peter continues to create and direct the restaurants with amazing skill and leadership.

VANESSA HIGGINS: Vanessa’s career started in Australia at the Hotel School, Sydney. After numerous jobs in varied restaurant roles she reached the acme of her career by becoming the Director of Outlets at the esteemed Park Hyatt Hotel in Sydney. Brought to San Francisco through work she became the General Manager of Beaucoup in Nob Hill and later went on to become the Event Planner at Frisson, Daniel Patterson and Peter Thiel’s restaurant on Jackson Square and Philippe Starck and Morgan Hotel Group’s Clift Hotel creating events for Richard Branson, Russell Simmons and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom to name a few. Realizing her passion for food she enrolled in the famed Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco. She has been an owner of Real Restaurants for close to a decade and is now bringing her expertise to Mill Valley with the opening of Playa with her husband Bill and business partner Peter.

Amy Bonetti Price, Big Mouth PR, 415-407-9008