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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Hansen’

The Scoop: Sophie’s, an artist lounge and bar, to open in .ZACK space

Thursday, April 6th, 2017



Grand Center will welcome a new addition to the neighborhood next week when Sophie’s Artist Lounge & Cocktail Club opens its doors on Friday, April 14.

The club will be located on the second floor of the .ZACK multipurpose arts venue at 3224 Locust St., the former home of Plush, which is owned by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation. Other .ZACK tenants include the restaurant Turn by David Kirkland, a 200-seat theater, an art incubator, a record store, a ballroom and a variety of offices and commercial spaces.

“Sophie’s Artist Lounge & Cocktail Club is meant to be an amenity for our resident organizations and their cast, crews and patrons to come together to connect and celebrate their work,” said Chris Hansen, executive director of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, adding that the club will also be open to the general public.

The interior of the space, which seats approximately 50, was designed by SPACE Architecture & Design. It will be open Wednesday to Saturday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sophie’s patrons can indulge in a selection of cocktails, beer and wine, along with a small menu of bar snacks and play classic board games. Hansen said the venue will also play host to networking and connectivity events designed to help bring together the arts community.

Logo courtesy of Kranzberg Arts Foundation 

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The Scoop: The Dark Room to move to Grandel Theater

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016



A new space for nightlife is developing at 3601 Grandel Square as The Dark Room Wine Bar & Photo Gallery prepares to move from its current location at 615 N. Grand Blvd., to the Grandel Theater. The Kranzberg Arts Foundation is renovating the Grandel, and in February 2017, the lobby and commons area will be home to an new Dark Room.

“This is a great opportunity to expand our programing and capacity and to double down on our commitment to supporting the arts,” said Chris Hansen, Kranzberg Arts Foundation executive director.

Hansen said those expansions include extended hours, 30 percent more seating inside and another 50 seats on the patio. The Dark Room will also serve as the food and beverage provider for the theater. A newly designed and installed kitchen will be under the direction of chef Samantha Pretto, who came on board in December 2015.

Patrons can expect an expanded cocktail menu designed for theater-goers who need to get to the show on time, as well as a new late-night food menu following productions. Private dining rooms will also be available.

Customers who enjoyed the live jazz and visual arts exhibits at The Dark Room can expect the same vibe with rotating installations.“The Dark Room meets (Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s) mission to invest in infrastructure and systems that support the arts,” said Hansen. “Its programs can be the backbone of the Grandel Theater.”

He plans to announce new menu details closer to opening.


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The Scoop: Chef Samantha Pretto joins The Dark Room

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015



After two months of consulting with chef Wil Pelly, The Dark Room in Midtown revamped its menu in November and tapped The Scottish Arms‘ Samantha Pretto to take the reins. Pretto started at the wine bar and photo gallery Dec. 1.

She brings “a passion for charcuterie, terrine and pairing cheese with wine,” said Chris Hansen, The Dark Room managing partner. “That passion for food, presentation and delivery fits very well with what we do.”

The Pelly-directed menu offers starters, sharable cheese and charcuterie boards as well as flatbreads, some vegetarian friendly, as well as desserts like affogatos and bread pudding. The menu released in November will run until the new year, when Pretto hopes to inject some of her own dishes reflective of her affinity for rustic Italian cuisine and her 15 years of kitchen experience at Scottish Arms, Market Pub House and more. “I’m looking forward to being able to show who I am through a plate,” Pretto said.

Editor’s Note: This post originally incorrectly reported that Samantha Pretto was sous chef at The Scottish Arms. It has been updated to correct the error. 




The Scoop: Lola is latest restaurant to announce its closure

Monday, June 16th, 2014



{Waffles at Lola}

Last week brought news of the closure of three area restaurants: Harvest, Tripel and Brazikat.  Add downtown nightlife spot Lola to the list.

Today, the restaurant announced on its Facebook page that the downtown nightspot will have its final day of service Sunday, June 22.

Lola opened in January 2010 under the ownership of Cijo Matthews and Chris Hansen. Hansen has since left, first to pursue opportunities at Atomic Cowboy, and now with The Dark Room and Kranzberg Arts Center.

Matthews did not immediately return a request for comment.

 -photo by Greg Rannells

Sneak Peek: The Dark Room

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Wine bar and photo gallery The Dark Room opens today in Grand Center. The adults-only venue at 615 N. Grand Blvd., looks to be a destination in its own right among other Midtown cultural spots as photography, fine wine and casual noshes come together under one roof, as The Scoop first reported in January.

“The energy of the space is more than a typical wine bar,” said managing partner Chris Hansen. The 1,800-square-foot space offers ample space for patrons to walk around the gallery and enjoy the inaugural exhibit, “New on the Scene,” which features the works of eight recent graduates of Webster University’s photography program.

Beverages at The Dark Room include wines curated by Bill Kniep of Pinnacle Imports. Six whites and six reds are available by the glass; 10 whites and 10 reds are on the bottle list. All 15 beers on the menu are local brews.

The food menu, developed by Hansen and with recipes from Cafe Osage’s chef David Kirkland, includes bar snacks, small plates, cheese and meat boards, flatbreads and desserts. Although not a large menu, every item is either prepared in-house or sourced locally. “We’re not trying to be a full-service restaurant, but we wanted to have options,” Hansen said.

Initially, The Dark Room will be open Tuesday through Saturday with limited hours. In a few weeks, it will expand to regular operating hours: open daily (except Monday) from 4 p.m. until midnight, and until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Here’s what’s in store at The Dark Room:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: The Dark Room wine bar and photo gallery to open in Grand Center

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014



Fine art and fine wine will be under the same roof when The Dark Room opens in Grand Center. A combination wine bar and photo gallery, The Dark Room will be located in the heart of Grand Center at 615 N. Grand Blvd., formerly occupied by William Shearburn Gallery, and is expected to open in mid-March.

A partnership between Grand Center Inc., Ken Kranzberg and the International Photography Hall of Fame, The Dark Room is designed to be an adult-only venue that enhances community engagement, encourages conversation and inspires ideas.

The wine bar will offer seating for 40 patrons, spread between a bar, high-top tables and two community tables, explained Chris Hansen, managing partner at The Dark Room and director of theaters and events for the Kranzberg Arts Center. (Hansen is also a partner at The Demo concert venue at Atomic Cowboy and a former owner of Lola.) The Dark Room will offer a rotating wine list curated by Bill Kniep of Pinnacle Imports, as well as craft beers. Food options will include charcuterie, fine cheeses, small plates and desserts.

While the wine bar will please the palate, photography from artists around the country will please the eye. The International Photography Hall of Fame will curate the rotating monthly photography exhibited in the 1,800-square-foot gallery, selecting works that appeal to collectors and enthusiasts alike.



The Scoop: Atomic Cowboy riding high

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Have you visited Atomic Cowboy lately? If so, you’ll notice that the longtime restaurant, bar and nightclub in The Grove is in the midst of change.

Last fall, owners Jim Kellogg and Chip Schloss asked former Lola co-owner Chris Hansen to help give Atomic Cowboy’s concert venue The Foxhole a makeover. The venue is now named The Demo, and Hansen has since become general manager of Atomic Cowboy. “It’s an institution,” Hansen said of the restaurant and bar. “We’re a big part of the evolution of The Grove. We’re in a good position to take it into the future.”

The kitchen is one place where changes were made. Derek Holthaus came aboard as executive chef in late February, while Paco Diaz, whom Hansen called one of the restaurant’s “most tenured employees,” was promoted to sous chef. The pair are turning out cuisine that Hansen described as “Texas roadhouse barbecue meets fresh Mexican.” From appetizers like sweet potato empanadas with jalapeño cream to entrees such as a barbecued chicken chimichanga, Holthaus and Diaz are giving some longtime Atomic dishes a fresh twist and transforming the back-of-the-house into a scratch kitchen where condiments and sauces, smoked meats, desserts and more are prepared in-house – when that isn’t possible, the chefs are looking to source locally.

On the beverage side, Atomic will soon see the addition of Lucas Ramsey, who is leaving his post as bartender at Blood & Sand to helm Atomic’s bar program beginning in early June. According to Hansen, Ramsey, who worked at Atomic Cowboy some years ago, has been asked to retool the cocktails, creating drinks that merge “the craft side with consistency and high volume.” Atomic Cowboy does brisk business at all three of its bars: the main bar (which is being expanded), an outdoor bar (whose massive patio is being renovated), and the bar inside The Demo.

The Scoop: Big Mouth Street Food to open first week of May

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

The Scoop reported last November that Chris Hansen, co-owner of Lola, was going to open Big Mouth Street Food at the southwest corner of 13th Street and Washington Avenue downtown. Yesterday, Hansen notified us that the 400-square-foot eatery specializing in large cheese steaks and oversized burritos should open next month. He’s shooting to unlock doors the first week of May.

The Scoop: Coming soon to Washington Avenue: Big Mouth Street Food, fire bar at Lola

Monday, November 7th, 2011

110711_lolaChris Hansen, co-owner of Lola, has another venture in the works. Coming soon to the southwest corner of 13th Street and Washington Avenue is Big Mouth Street Food. At this tiny, 400-square-foot space, hungry diners will be able to select from a limited (as in six items) menu of large cheese steaks and burritos. Hansen described Big Mouth as a “loud and in-your-face” type of place where everything is big – from the oversize eats to the edgy blaring music. Big Mouth will serve lunch and stay open late night, both of which Hansen is hoping will attract downtown workers, residents and late-night scene-goers alike. He hopes to open by the end of the year.

Hansen also shared news of the newest attraction at Lola: a fire bar that is set to be situated on the courtyard patio. What exactly is a fire bar? A bar that’s warm via radiant heating where the focus is on heated beverages – from warm cocktails to hot chocolate. Construction for the project will begin in one week and is slated to be completed before Thanksgiving weekend, just in time for temperatures to dip into truly nippy territory.

The Scoop: New kitchen team to bring more NOLA to Lola

Friday, January 14th, 2011

11311_beignetLook for more of a French Creole flair at Lola. That’s the word from Mike Ryan, whom Lola owners Chris Hansen and Cijo Matthew recently brought on board to helm the kitchen at their downtown restaurant.

The menu, slated to kick off in early March, will see the addition of items such as fricassees, cassoulets, an andouille corn dog with dirty rice, a Creole-dusted rib-eye and chicken and shrimp étouffée. Dessert change-ups are in the works as well. The restaurant will be adding a classic beignet to the offerings, as well as creative bread puddings, a variety of crème brûlées, and fun puff pastry bowls for semifreddos and custards, just to name a few. Those who have dined at Lola of late may have tasted a few of these sweet treats already (did you get a bite of that monkey bread or the pistachio crème brûlée with the dark chocolate crust?) as Ryan and his kitchen brigade have been testing the desserts at the restaurant over the last few weeks. “We’ve had a huge increase in dessert sales since rolling them out as specials,” said Ryan.

Ryan has been in the food industry for a number of years and has spent time in the kitchen at Dominic’s. Most recently, he worked for Chartwells Dining Services, operator of dining services at SLU, where he served as executive chef at Chaifetz Arena. Implementing the NOLA direction at Lola with Ryan is Montsho Harrel, recently promoted from within to sous chef, and new pastry chef Frank Mills, who accompanies Ryan from Chartwells.

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