.Epicurean Epicness: Restaurateur David Ruiz

David Ruiz is the owner of Stillwater in Fairfax, Junior in San Francisco and Souvenir, a new natural wine and vinyl store in San Anselmo. The following is an interview with Ruiz:

What do you do?

I’m a business owner—restaurants and bars—and a bottle shop…

Where do you live?

Gerstle Park, San Rafael.

How long have you lived in Marin? Since October 2018.

Where can we find you when not at work?

Surfing in Bolinas when I’m lucky with some free time. I like to pop around and check out new places and new bars—seems like there’s always something new happening, especially when you don’t make it out as much. Other than that, I love to spend time at home with my wife, Margaret, and two-year-old son, Dillon.

If you had to convince someone how awesome Marin was, where would you take them?

Bolinas for surfing or just a beach day. I love the Fairfax Theater and of course Stillwater I hear is pretty good (LOL). Big fan of the Marshall Store, hiking Mt. Tam, everything West. Oliver’s Pizza in San Rafael; it’s tucked away above Vin Antico—our partner at the bottle shop helped set the bar up and create the cocktails.

What is one thing Marin is missing?

So much. Where to begin…… later night food, and just evening activities generally… I think the street closures and concerts in San Anselmo have been great. Outdoor dining has added a bit more flavor, but how about less hair salons and antique shops? The new wave is here, and it’s changing for the better every day.

What’s one bit of advice you’d share with your fellow Marinites?

Treat Marin as pieces of a puzzle—each area has good and bad—so create your own adventure! Every area has its cool identity and things to offer, so it can be fun to approach it that way.

If you could invite anyone to a special dinner, who would they be?

I’d invite my wife (because we rarely get to go out), plus all my coworkers and friends past and present from all the bars and restaurants I’ve been fortunate enough to work in; some serious legends at that table!

What is some advice you wish you knew 20 years ago?

Save your money, travel more, take risks.

What is something that in 20 years from now will seem cringeworthy?

All reality TV, selfies, things of that nature.

Big question. What is one thing you’d do to change the world?

Less cars, more bikes, more parks, more open space, more nature, more ocean.

Follow Stillwater (@alittlerestaurant) and Souvenir (@souvenirbottleshop) on Instagram.

NOTE: This summer, Souvenir will move down the block to a larger space that will include a wine bar.

Nish Nadaraja was on the founding team at Yelp, serves on the San Anselmo Arts Commission and attempts to play pickleball at Fairfax’s Cañon Club.


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