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Jul 06, 2015
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The Scoop

The Scoop: Mai Lee’s Qui Tran moves closer to opening a ramen shop

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015



St. Louis’ ramen lovers, prepare to geek out. About this time last year, we salivated when Mai Lee’s Qui Tran discussed opening a noodle house. Now, Tran is moving closer to that reality with his eye on a 2016 opening.

Tran recently invited Shigetoshi Nakamura, head of research and development at Sun Noodle, to help him with recipe development, as reported by Feast. “I’ve been trying to get him here since last September,” said Tran, who plans to use Sun Noodles at his upcoming shop. “It’s the No. 1 fresh ramen noodle company. They supply 200 different noodles to over 500 different restaurants.”

Tran doesn’t need 200 types of noodles at his to-be-named noodle shop; he just needs two or three. “We like not overly thick, but a good chew and moderately wavy,” he said. Currently, he is looking to prepare five styles of ramen, including shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt) and spicy miso (fermented bean paste). While ramen will be the focus at the noodle house, Tran plans to offer pho, which is gluten-free, and a monthly noodle special to highlight soups from countries throughout Asia and the Pacific islands.

Another piece of the puzzle is Tran’s executive chef and partner on the ramen project, Marie-Anne Velasco, a Filipino native who has taught at L’Ecole Culinaire in St. Louis and at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago. “She just moved back to St. Louis to help with the project,” Tran said.

He hopes to sign a lease by late 2015 and open in the first half of 2016. Tran and Velasco are considering six different locations for their shop. “We’re looking west,” he said. “It won’t go further than Chesterfield.”

R&D has taken the duo on noodle slurp-fests from coast to coast, and Velasco staged for chef Takashi Yagihashi at his Chicago restaurants Tikashi and Slurping Turtle. “We’ve been very diligent with this. We’ve reached out to a lot of people, eaten a lot of ramen and developed a lot of recipes,” Tran said. “I could have opened last year, but that’s not who we are or what we do. I don’t want to just do it. I want to do it and be the best at what we do.”

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

The Scoop: Six Mile Bridge set to open in Maryland Heights

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015



It’s good to be a craft beer fan in Maryland Heights. Just weeks after the opening of O’Fallon Brewery’s new tasting room comes word that Six Mile Bridge will open its craft brewery by the end of July. The 6,000-square-foot operation is set to open at 11841 Dorsett Road in Maryland Heights, as reported by Feast Magazine.

Owners Ryan and Lindsay Sherring began brewing beer in Cape Town, South Africa where Ryan founded 021 Brewing Company. Six Mile Bridge was born after the Sherrings moved to St. Louis to be closer to Lindsay’s family. “We weren’t originally thinking about opening a craft brewery, but we were passionate about it so we looked into it and went for it,” Lindsay Sherring said. “When (Ryan) gets an idea in his head it has to get done.”

Two of their flagship beers debuted at the St. Louis Brewers Guild Heritage Festival: the Bavarian Hefeweizen and the Irish red ale. “We received a great response to the beers,” Sherring said. Their Irish red ale is also on tap at Square One in Lafayette Square.

Production is the main focus for the brewery, but the space will also include a 1,200-square-foot tasting room, open three days a week. The Sherrings initially plan to brew 1,500 barrels per year but hope to increase their production to 10,000 barrels as sales grow.



The Scoop: St. Louis to get its first cat cafe, Mauhaus Cat Cafe & Lounge

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015




Brace yourselves, cat lovers. St. Louis will soon have its very own cat cafe. Co-founder Ben Triola confirmed Mauhaus Cat Cafe & Lounge is slated to open next spring. The four-person Mauhaus team – Triola, along with Dana Huth, Niklaus Risler and Taylor Maxwell – has selected a location, which will be about 1,400 square feet, but has not disclosed the address.

Cat cafes are de rigueur in places like San Francisco and New York City. The idea is that being around the cats – and spending time playing with them – is comforting and therapeutic for people and the animals. Most of the 10 to 15 cats at Mauhaus will be adoptable.

“Dana and I had visited a couple cat cafes on our last trip to Thailand, and we just loved the idea so much and we were kind of sad that we couldn’t visit one at home. We think this is something St. Louis can get behind,” Triola said.

Mauhaus will offer typical cafe fare and an internationally focused beverage menu. “We’re trying to offer people more than just drip coffee,” Triola said. “Because we know that it’s not going to be a normal morning routine coffee stop for people, we want to offer coffees and teas that are unique and have an international flair. We’re thinking things like Vietnamese iced coffee, Thai iced tea and Italian mocha pots – something that takes a little more time and you can’t get at other coffee shops.”

According to Risler, who has worked as a barista in New York City and locally at Stone Spiral and more recently at Living Room, Mauhaus will also offer espresso drinks as well as coffee made using pour-over and other new-wave brewing methods.

The food at Mauhaus will be made in the “humans-only” section, but diners are free to take their treats in to hang out with the cats. Expect cheese, pastries, biscotti, toasts and other bakery items, either locally sourced or prepared in-house.

The team will be working with an architect over the coming months to make their vision a reality. The majority of the seating will be indoors with the cats (and lower to the ground for easy petting), but seasonal outdoor seating is also possibility as well.

St. Louis won’t have to wait until next year to get to know what Mauhaus is all about, though. “We’re going to have a lot of micro events so people can get to know us and know our food and beverage offerings before opening,” Triola said. Look for announcements on the Mauhaus Facebook page and Twitter handle.


The Scoop: Joanie’s Pizzeria changes hands

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015



{Joanie’s founder Joanie Spurgeon and new owner Jeff Schneider)


After 20 years, Joanie Spurgeon is passing the pizza pan to Jeff Schneider, an employee at the Soulard pizzeria for the last six years. Don’t expect radical changes, though – Schneider aims to freshen up some elements at Joanie’s while keeping true to its original concept.

“We’re looking to add a couple of seasonal salads,” Schneider said. “The menu will stay the same. We’ll just add some items to it. It can be more without affecting the core of Joanie’s.”

Schneider also looks forward to expanding the beer selection. So far, additions include Abita Grapefruit Harvest and 4 Hands Send Help, with some new rye whiskeys on the way.

The food menu will expand to include a pizza of the week, culled from recipes and ideas from the entire kitchen and service staff. Past specialty pizzas have included a double ham, Provel and garlic and the popular Thai pizza featuring chicken, peanut sauce and carrots.

Spurgeon and Schneider made the transition at the end of May, but Spurgeon is sticking around to help mentor Schneider and lend a hand when necessary.

“Jeff is a super guy,” Spurgeon said. “Everybody likes him. He’s a humble soul and never says a bad word about anybody. That’s how I am and that’s how I want Joanie’s to carry on.”

The Scoop: Marc Rollins to take the reins at In Good Company

Monday, June 29th, 2015



{Diablitos Cantina}


As corporate chef Wil Pelly departs for smokier opportunities, Hendricks BBQ executive sous chef Marc Rollins will take over the In Good Company corporate kitchens July 1.

Rollins is a 15-year industry veteran who has manned every station in the kitchen from dishwasher on up, including time as sous chef at Hollywood Casino and Resort. Now he’ll head up the four restaurants with as many concepts under the In Good Company banner: Sanctuaria, Hendricks, Diablitos Cantina and Café Ventana.

“I’ve learned a lot during this last year working with Wil,” Rollins said. “My goal is to keep his concepts running while putting creativity in the people’s hands who are in the kitchens.”

As corporate chef, Rollins said he had to learn the business and communication skills required to oversee four different restaurants, something he looks forward to teaching others. “I’m excited to help people learn, whether from a cooking standpoint or a business standpoint,” he said. “I’m also looking forward to learning from the people under me who can further my knowledge as well.”

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

The Scoop: Chef Wil Pelly to helm Sugarfire downtown location

Monday, June 29th, 2015




Chef Wil Pelly is leaving his post as In Good Company’s corporate executive chef to join Sugarfire Smoke House. Pelly will helm culinary operations at the barbecue joint’s new location downtown at 605 Washington Ave., when it opens in September. His last day with In Good Company (which owns Sanctuaria, Hendricks BBQ, Diablitos Cantina and Café Ventana) is tomorrow, June 30. Pelly will start his training at Sugarfire’s St. Charles location.

Although he will learn the Sugarfire ways of barbecue, Pelly is no stranger to the smoker. In addition to his ’cue duties at Hendricks, he has participated in competitive barbecue contests, including the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest at Memphis four years in a row. He also worked barbecue when he worked at Jake’s Steak on Laclede’s Landing.

Pelly will also flex his barbecue muscles at upcoming events. In August, he’ll represent St. Louis at the LuvLuv Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, an annual barbecue fete organized by former Overlook Farms exec chef Tim Grandinetti. In November, he’ll participate in the World Food Championships in Kissimmee, Florida.

The opportunity arose last month when Sugarfire co-owner Dave Molina, Pelly’s close friend, approached him. Pelly has spent the last five years with In Good Company, starting as a prep cook at Sanctuaria and eventually overseeing culinary operations for all four eateries after chef Chris Lee departed in late 2012. “It’s time to move on and learn something new,” Pelly said.

-photo by Jonathan Gayman 

The Scoop: Two restaurants see changes on The Loop

Monday, June 29th, 2015



{Shrimp and grits at Cabana on the Loop}


Less than a year after opening, Cabana on the Loop is leaving its current home for a new, off-The-Loop location. Cabana will reopen July 15 at 8502 Olive St., in University City. Co-owner Wendell Bryant said the location was a better financial decision for their business. “I got a better deal on the lease, so we can be there for a longer time,” he said.

Cabana, which opened doors at 6100 Delmar Blvd., in October 2014, will feature the same Southern fare at breakfast, lunch and dinner.






As one restaurant leaves The Loop, another opens its doors. Gyro Grill officially opened June 10 at 6227 Delmar Blvd., which formerly housed Chubbies. The restaurant was originally located at 3801 Kingshighway Blvd. Owner Morad Jabar said he originally considered opening a second location but ultimately decided to relocate instead.

“(We) wanted to get the people who are looking for local names and businesses, not just franchises,” Jabar said. “We have people who have kept up with us through Facebook and followed us here from South City.”

Jabar opened Gyro Grill on Kingshighway five years ago, but closed its doors at the end of April to prepare for the new 1,000-square-foot location on The Loop. The menu features Jabar’s classic gyros and salads from the previous location, plus some new additions.

“The gyro itself is pretty much my swinging pendulum. I can go with a Middle Eastern or European gyro or make something more traditionally American,” Jabar said.



The Scoop: Dave Bailey to open weekday lunch spot Shift, Test Kitchen & Take Out

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015




Restaurateur Dave Bailey is opening another eatery. Shift, Test Kitchen & Takeout will be a counter-service, carryout only spot at 311 N. 11th St., located next door to Bailey’s downtown brunch place, Rooster. Shift, slated to open in September, will offer lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

As its name implies, the menu at Shift will change. “The idea is to use it as an incubator for the restaurants we’re going to be opening going forward,” Bailey said. The 650-square-foot space previously housed baking operations for his restaurants. That bakery has since relocated to the second Rooster location on South Grand Boulevard.

First up: barbecue, serving as a test run for the barbecue concept Bailey announced in April 2014. The still-unnamed 200-seat restaurant was slated to open in January at 1011 Olive St., that opening has been moved to spring 2016.

“We’re not going to focus on one regional style – Memphis or St. Louis, for example. We’ll be doing a worldwide representation of barbecue styles and hope for feedback so we can hone in on really good dishes to use at the barbecue restaurant,” he said.

Bailey said Shift will follow a credo of whole-animal cooking, butchering animals in-house. Look for a tight menu of five main dishes with one vegetarian option. Traditional barbecue sides, salads and pies will also be available.

Also still on the docket is the 45-seat rooftop bar Bailey announced with the barbecue restaurant, though no date is set for that opening.

Shift joins the family of Bailey’s restaurants, which include Baileys’ Range, Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar, Baileys’ Chocolate Bar, Small Batch, both locations of Rooster and The Fifth Wheel, a catering arm that also provides food service at 4 Hands Brewing Co.

Get an early taste of Shift when they smoke up some ’cue on Aug. 2 at the Schurcipefones Festival, which closes out St. Louis Craft Beer Week.


-photo by Jonathan Pollack 

The Scoop: Caravelli signs on at Butchery, Andrew takes over as head butcher, McDonald departs for Byrd & Barrel

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015



{Steven Caravelli}


Do the Truffles shuffle! A considerable role shift is underway at Truffles Butchery. The Ladue restaurant and meat market recently announced Steven Caravelli has assumed the executive chef-ship of Butchery in cooperation with Brandon Benack, executive chef of Truffles. Caravelli, who started at Butchery June 16, is most recently an alum of Cucina Pazzo; he also has helmed Tavern Kitchen, Pi, Gringo, Araka and Sleek.

“It’s kind of a new aspect right now. I’ve been calling myself a shopkeep,” Caravelli said. “I’ve got to know about wine, about all these prepared items we have in the case. I have to know about all the mustard and barbecue sauces we have. It’s almost like a grocery store. For me, it’s a very exciting … opportunity to learn.”

Caravelli said he hopes to expand Butchery’s catering and prepared foods program, particularly boxed lunches that will include house-prepared roast beef, ham and other deli meats. “I want to maintain the consistency and quality of the place,” he said. “We pride ourselves on catering to the neighborhood. We’re trying to figure out what the neighborhood wants and what the neighborhood eats and make more of that.”




{Tommy Andrew}


While Caravelli will oversee much of the management duties both in the kitchen and in Butchery’s retail section, butcher Tommy Andrew – a member of this year’s Sauce’s Ones to Watch class – will fill the sous chef and head butcher positions. Caravelli and Andrew previously worked together at Gringo. “(Tommy’s) great at breaking down whole animals,” Caravelli said. “We work well together.”

While staying mostly mum on the details of his new role, Andrew said he is “definitely going to be stepping up a bit.” His promotion comes soon after the departure of Ryan McDonald, who left several weeks ago to be a chef at upcoming fried chicken eatery Byrd & Barrel, slated to open in July.




{Ryan McDonald} 


“To be honest, I missed cooking,” McDonald explained. “Butchering was awesome, running the shop was a lot of fun … but my love is in cooking. Me and Bob (Brazell, co-owner of Byrd & Barrel) have been good friends for years and years now, so it seemed like the right move.”

He also mentioned McDonald’s expertise with charcuterie, which he hopes to add to the Byrd & Barrel menu. “Ryan and I have been really close friends since Monarch,” Brazell said. “I want someone that I trust and is going to care about it as much as I do. Ryan’s one of the most talented chefs I’ve worked with. … (He’s) definitely going to be having a lot of influence.”

“Getting back, having fun, cooking really good food and keeping high expectations,” McDonald said. “That’s our main goal: to cook good food for good people.”


-Caravelli and Andrew photos by Carmen Troesser; McDonald photo by Greg Rannells

The Scoop: Robust to close its Edwardsville location

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015




Robust is closing its location in Edwardsville. Owners Stanley and Arlene Browne announced today, June 23, that the wine bar, which they opened at 126 N. Main St., in August 2013 would shutter after service on June 28.

Stanley Browne said a variety of factors culminated in the decision, one they have contemplated since the beginning of this year. “It’s hard to manage from that far away. I felt like I didn’t have good control on that location,” Browne said. The Brownes live in St. Louis and their other two Robust locations take up residence downtown and in Webster Groves, respectively.

Browne also cited less-than-expected patronage at the Illinois location. “It did not hit the same traffic as the other two locations,” he said. “It was Erato wine bar before that, so we assumed it would be just fine.” All employees at Robust in Edwardsville have been offered positions at the other Robust locations.

The Brownes have sold the assets to the Edwardsville wine bar to an Edwarsdsville-based restaurateur, who will open a different concept in the space. Browne could not divulge the new owner’s name, nor specifics about that project.

As for their next steps, Browne said they are exploring other opportunities. He confirmed that they are looking to open another St. Louis-area location and they will focus on the catering arm of their business. “We’re going to keep growing and expanding,” he said.


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