It’s going to be a happy New Year for Matthew and Winnona Tobey—they are the new owners of Champagne’s Bistro & Deli in Newport Beach.
Matthew and Winnona took over Champagne’s Bistro, which has been around for more than three decades, on Nov. 1 after previous owner Rand McDevitt and general manager Tina Voso retired.
“We want to keep it as iconic as it is,” Matthew told me when I popped in for breakfast last week with NB Indy writer Richard Simon. “We will add baked goods and things of that nature. I have an espresso machine so we’re working on doing lattes, cappuccinos, things of that nature.”
Winnona is a trained pastry chef so you can bet Champagne’s will be adding some signature pastry items.
Matthew said the restaurant was pretty much a turnkey deal, although as he pointed out “nothing is really turnkey right now. It’s an evolving operation. We have a great team in place. I kept everybody on—I wanted to retain that talent that’s here. We kept the menu the same, but we’ve been working on technique and execution. We have big shoes to fill. This has been here for 32 years, that’s quite an accomplishment. We have a lot of work to do, we have some fun things in store.”
Matthew said he wants to open earlier and focus on pastries and espresso drinks in the morning. But his new focus will be on dinner. The menu will stay comfort-food focused, but he’ll add more composed dishes, more proteins, more pastas—essentially more elevated dishes. And a better wine list.
One menu mainstay he’ll also expand on is pizza.
“One of our best sellers at night is our pizzas. Our pizza is really good. We have a brick stone pizza oven, we can do wood and gas. We do a 10 inch and a 14 inch. We’ll add a barbecue chicken pizza and more unique ones in the future. We are working on execution of the dough and sauce and the cooking temps. The crust is everything, it’s the hands that hold the ingredients.”
Matthew is not planning any major remodeling for the 3,000 square foot restaurant, which has indoor seating and an enclosed patio, but the kitchen is getting a big overhaul.
“The kitchen is the heartbeat of the restaurant. I have been cleaning and organizing and fixing, replacing equipment. We’re adding a bigger oven because we’ll be doing pastries. Right now there’s not enough room to do the breads and the pastries. We might get new tables or things of that nature, but it’s a good restaurant as it is.”
Matthew knows good restaurants. He ran a fine dining wine bar and several other restaurants in Sedona, Arizona, and was recruited to come to California along with his wife to open Saint Marc in Pacific City, Huntington Beach. Following that, he spent several years with Urth Caffé. Now, Mathew and Winnona has embarked on their next culinary adventure together.
“Working with my wife is an absolute pleasure,” stated Matthew, who said he met Winnona when they were in the restaurant business in Arcadia, Arizona. “We have been out here for six years. We love food. We make a good team.
Although I cleaned my plate of my favorite breakfast dish—a breakfast sandwich of egg, cheese, avocado and mustard on multi-grain bread, Matthew has me try two of his pizzas: a mushroom, pepperoni and sausage pizza, and a classic “works” pizza with olives, bell peppers, pepperoni, and sausage. I had to agree with Matthew—those are damn good pizzas, and the crust is perfectly charred without being burned.
Champagne’s Bistro & Deli is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Visit https://champagnesdeli.com/ for more information including menus.