Old cottage may become modern eatery

Nestled in the southwest corner of Golden Gate Park, a 100-year-old cottage that sits next to a windmill will soon start a new chapter in its life.

Sitting off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive near Lincoln Way, the vacant Millwrights Cottage could soon be transformed into a destination spot where people go to eat sustainable foods.

The 100-year-old, Colonial New England-style cottage has been vacant since 2003. The caretakers of the Dutch windmill that sits next to the cottage used to live in the two-story home that was designated a historic landmark in 1999.

As a part of the larger project to revamp the Dutch windmill, which is set to have its overhaul completed next year, the Recreation and Park Department is proposing turning the site into a restaurant.

Rec and Park is looking for interested vendors who would be encouraged to serve healthy foods that use low or no synthetic agricultural chemicals and minimal, if any, genetic modification.

The proposal does not describe any other criteria for the type of product the merchant would sell, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be a restaurant, Rec and Park spokesman Elton Pon said.

“I think what we initially had in mind was a restaurant, but that wouldn’t exclude anyone from thinking outside of the box,” he said. “We're very open-minded right now.”

If the site does become a restaurant, it would be the second one in Golden Gate Park — the other being the Beach Chalet — according to Pon.

No matter what type of establishment opens, it will generate money for the cash-strapped department. Rec and Park would charge a base rent and collect some revenue the vendor generates.

And when the Recreation and Park Commission picks a proposal, scheduled for December, Project Manager Rick Thall will start a $900,000 plan to primp the place and bring it up to code.

“It will essentially be the same cottage, just spruced up,” he said.

Raymond Holland, president of the Planning Association for the Richmond, said he frequently rides his bicycle by the abandoned cottage and is ready for some excitement.

“It’s an intriguing plan. I didn’t even know it was big enough for a restaurant,” he said. “It will be interesting to watch.”

Spinning new use from old site

Restoration of a 100-year-old cottage is part of a larger project to re-establish a windmill in Golden Gate Park, which also includes landscaping improvements to the areas surrounding the windmill and cottage.

The cottage
– 2,200 square feet
– Exposed, wood-beam ceiling
– Fireplace, living room, dining room, kitchen and half-bathroom on first floor
– Two bedrooms with Dormer windows and bathroom on second floor

Source: Recreation and Park Department

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