James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur semifinalists Mark and Terri Stark together own and operate six of Sonoma County’s favorite, and most highly rated, restaurants: Willi’s Wine Bar, Monti’s Rotisserie, Bird & The Bottle, and Stark’s Steak & Seafood in Santa Rosa, and Willi’s Seafood and Bravas Bar de Tapas in Healdsburg.
Mark is executive chef and Terri handles all business operations for the restaurants. From opening their first venture, Willi ‘s Wine Bar in 2002, to their most recent, Bird & The Bottle in 2015, Mark and Terri’s restaurants have consistently earned top accolades and praise including San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 Bay Area Restaurant status (Willi’s Wine Bar and Bravas), Michelin Bib Gourmand (Monti’s, Willi’s Wine Bar), and Travel + Leisure Top 20 US Tapas Restaurants (Bravas).
Says San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer, “What sets Mark and Terri Stark apart from many restaurateurs who have multiple locations is that each location is different. If their names weren’t written on the menu, in fact, you probably wouldn’t know it was one of their properties… Willi’s has remained one of my favorite casual stops in Sonoma County.”
Mark is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and honed his professional cooking skills in Washington DC and Seattle. Terri majored in hospitality at the University of Oregon, and had a successful catering and restaurant management career in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mark and Terri met while both were working for the California Cafe Restaurant Group in Palo Alto: he as a regional chef and she as manager of the catering department. They married in 1999, and relocated to Sonoma County shortly thereafter where Terri has four generations of family.
The Starks believe it’s not enough to provide great food and service in a comfortable setting—those things are to be expected. Their goal is to provide an experience that will leave diners saying, “I can’t wait to come back.” With six restaurants under their belts, that philosophy seems to be working.