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Feb 25, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Chris LaRocca’

The Scoop: Crushed Red to open in Edwardsville

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016



St. Louis born and bred Crushed Red Urban Bake & Chop shop will open its next location in Edwardsville. Located on the ground floor of a new construction building at 222 E. Park St., this will mark the fourth location for co-founder and chief expansion officer Powell Kalish and CEO Chris LaRocca.

“We’ve been looking for several years for a location in Edwardsville, but couldn’t find the right spot,” said LaRocca. “Our concept makes sense for the area and for the lifestyle of the Edwardsville consumer.”

When it opens in late fall, the restaurant will accommodate 102 diners inside with an additional 40 or so patrons on a patio. The menu of chopped salads, soups and pizzas will be the same as other area locations and will be included in Crushed Red’s Limited Time Offer menu trials where new menu items are tested.

“If we get a good response, we consider that items for permanent menu placement,” said La Rocca, who said the This Pear is on Fire Salad was one of the successful LTO offerings.

LaRocca and Kalish plan to open four locations in 2016 including one in Columbia, Missouri and two additional unannounced locations.


The Scoop: Crushed Red, San Jose Restaurante set to expand in 2015

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014



The third Crushed Red location in as many years is set to open in 2015, this time in Creve Coeur. The new location at 11635 Olive Blvd., will offer the same prepared to order salads, pizzas and appetizers as the Clayton and Kirkwood locations.

“We really believe in our approach: healthy food served quickly,” said owner-partner Chris LaRocca. “Diners can see their food being chopped and tossed. We get high marks for freshness and food with a healthful slant.”

The Creve Coeur restaurant is slated to open April 7, 2015 and will boast seating for 99 inside and 32 on its patio. “We’ve been working on this location for a long time and we’re really excited,” LaRocca said.

The expansion of Crushed Red doesn’t stop in West County. LaRocca and his partner have entered into franchise agreements, which means the opening of six additional location in the metropolitan Denver area. The first Rocky Mountain restaurant is also set to open April 7.

Also expanding is San Jose Mexican Restaurante. It will take over the space formerly occupied by La Cantina in Webster Groves at 35 N. Gore Ave., and chef-owner Fernando Mesa hopes to open the week of Dec. 29. “This is a nice opportunity for us,” Mesa said. “The building is nice, the people are nice. This is a family restaurant for everybody.”

The newest San Jose Restaurante will see Mesa manning the kitchen, serving up the same variety of house-made fare available at the Crestwood location, including mole, tamales and chips.

The Scoop: Closings, moves, makeovers and more restaurant news

Monday, June 24th, 2013


While The Scoop was away from the keyboard, many a development took place in the local dining scene — from closings to moves, for-sales to projects put on hold and restaurants doing some upgrades. Here’s a roundup on the latest action around town.

Duff’s held it’s final day of service yesterday, June 23, after 41 years in business. Another longtime establishment, Garavelli’s, turns out the lights this Friday, June 28. That news was announced earlier this month on its Facebook page: “It is with deep sadness that we announce the closing of Garavelli’s Cafeteria. After many great years with all of you, we have made a decision to close our doors and do what we think best.” The cafeteria, located in South City at 6600 Chippewa Ave., is the last remaining Garavelli’s, which once numbered six area locations.

Extra Virgin, An Olive Ovation plans to relocate to 8829 Ladue Road in Ladue. A recent newsletter held word that Tuesday, June 25 will be the last full day of business for the specialty food shop at its current location at 143 Carondelet Plaza in Clayton. Doors should open at the new location during the first week of July. According to the newsletter, “The exact day will be announced when final health department and building inspections are scheduled.” During the transition, Extra Virgin will still fulfill orders online and via phone.

Another restaurant that temporarily will close doors is Atlas. Chef-owner Bryan Carr and his wife Diane have commissioned local green-build and design firm Mwanzi Co. to makeover the interior of the restaurant, located at 5513 Pershing Ave., in the Central West End. Altas will close July 1 and reopen July 9.

Crushed Red Urban Bake & Chop Shop will not add a location in the Central West End. Last September, The Scoop reported that the fast-casual salad and pizza place was eyeing the space at 313 N. Euclid Ave., long occupied by a Pasta House Co. unit. At that time, Crushed Red co-owner Chris LaRocca noted that if lease discussions fell apart, it would likely be due to liquor license issues. Lack of neighborhood support for the liquor license is, in fact, why LaRocca and his business partners decided to pull out of what would have been the restaurant’s third location. “Our lease was contingent on us securing a liquor license within a specific period of time. We weren’t able to do it,” said LaRocca. “We believed we should have a presence in the Central West End, but it was getting too difficult to get this thing done.” The Crushed Red ownership group is “actively looking for other locations now,” according to LaRocca, who is pleased by the reception of the Crushed Red Kirkwood location that opened five weeks ago. “It’s astounded me how well that’s done.”



Keeping Up With Jason Tilford

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Part of Jason Tilford’s job is bouncing between the four restaurants he co-owns with his brother, Adam – Barrister’s, Tortillaria Mexican Kitchen, Milagro Modern Mexican and the newly opened Mission Taco Joint – and the nine others he consults on with buddy Chris LaRocca. With temptations of onion rings, burritos and margaritas galore, he’d have to be battery-operated not to get real fat, real fast. Yet he’s one of the slimmest chefs in the business. Sure, he has guilty pleasures – Barrister’s wings and Milagro’s chicken enchiladas to name a few – but Tilford has found a way to keep the extra pounds at bay, even while working the line. We begged him for his tricks for staying balanced in the most gluttonous profession around. He was happy to oblige.

Eat well, but eat often.
I hardly ever sit down with a plate of food. I eat a lot, but mainly small meals, all day. I try not to eat late at night. I try to skip the sweets and fried food. It’s funny; when you get into a routine, you crave eating healthy, almost. You get so used to it that eventually that Alfredo cream sauce doesn’t even look good.

Mix it up.
I play soccer, but it’s tailed down a lot since I turned 40. I also do some weight training and flexibility stuff. I’m trying to get into yoga, but it might be too boring for me. And I coach my son’s soccer team.

Hit the gym early.
I have to get my kids to school by 7:30 a.m., and the restaurant stuff doesn’t really wake up until 9. If I don’t go in the morning, usually, it’s not going to happen.

If work starts calling?
[Laughs] I can answer the first couple texts and emails of the day on the treadmill.

If you miss the morning window?
I go to Club Fitness and there’s one near my house, one between Milagro and Barrister’s, one near my sons’ school. They’re all in my rat race. There’s even one near Restaurant Depot [a purchasing center for restaurants].

 — photo by Ashley Gieseking, shot on location at Sweat.

The Scoop: EdgeWild owners still seek second locale; Crushed Red expansion plans moving along

Monday, March 4th, 2013

In December, The Scoop reported that a large portion of the former Busch’s Grove Market was expected to become home to a second location for EdgeWild Restaurant & Winery. EdgeWild owners Andy and Dee Dee Kohn, along with restaurateur and EdgeWild proprietor Chris LaRocca, had planned to open doors in the Ladue space in early summer 2013, as stated in a press release issued on December 18. At that time, a letter of intent had been signed, but a lease had not. The plan has since fallen through, as reported by the St. Louis Business Journal.

“Construction costs continued to go higher and higher,” said LaRocca in a follow-up interview with The Scoop last Friday. “It was beyond our threshold of comfort.” LaRocca noted that he and the Kohns continue to seek the right space for a second EdgeWild.

Another of LaRocca’s projects – the expansion of Crushed Red Urban Bake & Chop Shop – is moving forward, however. The Scoop announced last September that the owners of Crushed Red were pursuing more locations for their pizza and salad restaurant – one in the Central West End, the other in St. Louis county. Per LaRocca, the latter, located at 140 S. Kirkwood Road, is slated to open May 7; the former, at 313 N. Euclid Ave., previously home to a Pasta House Co., is expected to open in late July. The menu at these locations will be identical to the original Crushed Red location in Clayton.

The Scoop: Expansion plans in the works for Crushed Red

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Drive past 8007 Maryland Ave., in Clayton and you’ll notice construction at Crushed Red Urban Bake and Chop Shop, the casual restaurant that specializes in chopped salads and build-your-own pizzas. Co-owner Chris LaRocca told The Scoop that brisk business prompted construction of a patio, but increasing the seating capacity at the Clayton restaurant isn’t the only thing on his mind right now.

Crushed Red owners are actively pursuing other locations in the St. Louis area. One space they have in mind is in the Central West End at 313 N. Euclid Ave., commonly remembered as the former home to a Pasta House Co. location. LaRocca noted that if discussions regarding the lease at this space fall apart, it would likely be due to liquor license issues. Crushed Red offers beer and wine at its Clayton location and would seek to do the same at subsequent spots. LaRocca added that the restaurant doesn’t stay open late; rather, doors are closed at 9 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and at 10 p.m. on weekends. He hopes that these hours encourage nearby residents to support the restaurant when it petitions for a liquor license.

Crushed Red owners are also eyeing a location in St. Louis county. However, La Rocca declined to state the specific address.

The Scoop: Crushed Red Urban Bake & Chop Shop coming to Clayton

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

100511_saladOffering quick service but bearing a long name, Crushed Red Urban Bake & Chop Shop is coming to downtown Clayton. The restaurant will feature fast-bake pizzas, made-to-order chopped salads and soups, as reported by St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe. Crushed Red is expected to open early next year at 8007 Maryland Ave., in the space that used to be home to a Dick Blick Art Materials.

Crushed Red is a project by restaurateur Chris LaRocca, who is also busy these days readying EdgeWild Restaurant & Winery, slated to open this November near Chesterfield Mall. LaRocca has served as a consultant in the opening of several other area restaurants ranging from the now-shuttered Crazy Fish to Kota Wood Fire Grill in Grand Center and Mile 277 on Watson Road near Highway 44.

The Scoop: EdgeWild Restaurant & Winery to bring unique wine experience to Chesterfield

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

090111_edgewildAndy Kohn, his wife, Dee Dee Kohn, and Chris LaRocca are already acquainted with wine as minority owners of Chandler Hill Vineyards in Defiance, Mo. Now, the trio is working to bring a unique wine experience to St. Louis with their newest venture, EdgeWild Winery & Restaurant.

The 10,000-square-foot restaurant and winery, slated to open this November at 550 Chesterfield Center, in the space formerly occupied by Bahama Breeze, will be a bonded winery, which enables EdgeWild to both age wine on premises as well as acquire wine and sell it under the EdgeWild label.

The winery will be acquiring excess finished wines (all Parker-rated at 92 points or higher) from California wineries. It will also be contracting with winemakers to create custom-made wine for the EdgeWild label. Kohn explained that this direct route “cuts out the middlemen,” making it more affordable for patrons to enjoy a bottle of fine wine. Look for 75 percent of the 30 to 40 wines available at EdgeWild to be sold at less than $30 a bottle, with by-the-glass prices hovering between $5 and $6. Chandler Hill is the only other label that will be sold at EdgeWild.

Patrons of EdgeWild will be able to taste all that wine in numerous parts of the restaurant including the tasting bar, dining areas, a covered porch, a fire pit and, on special occasions, the barrel room and private dining area. There will also be a retail space near the entrance by the tasting bar, where wine and culinary-related items will be sold.

As for the menu, according to LaRocca, wine will shine as a culinary ingredient and pair well with dishes that are creative yet “not intimidating.” Among other things, watch for flatbreads and whole grain pizzas coming out of a wood-fired pizza oven. Nutritional breakdown for every item will be printed on the restaurant’s menu.

Joining LaRocca in designing the menu are Jason Tilford and Aaron Baggett, both of whom have worked with LaRocca for the launch of restaurants such as Kota Wood Fire Grill and Triumph Grill. Tilford also designed the menus at Tortillaria and Milagro Modern Mexican with his brother, Adam Tilford, and owns Barrister’s in Clayton. Baggett, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, will assume the executive chef position at EdgeWild.

The Scoop: Mile 277 will be “Route 66 meets biker”

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

122310_mile277If you have fond memories of dancing the night away at prom or a wedding reception at the Holiday Inn on Watson at Lindbergh, get ready for some brand new experiences at 10709 Watson Road. This time, though, you’ll want to swap fancy clothes for some biker gear, because Mile 277 is all about the bike.

The themed restaurant and nightspot, which Kevin Pyles of MOTO Marketing Group describes as “Route 66 meets biker,” will focus on motorcycles, music and roadhouse fixin’s. The name Mile 277 hails from I-44’s exit 277, the highway exit nearest to the venue. Pyles added that the Mile 277 investment group is working on franchising throughout the U.S., especially on Route 66. “Whatever the mile marker is, that will be the name,” said Pyles.

Along with live entertainment and special events, Mile 277 will serve classic roadhouse fare from a menu created by Ted Geiger and Chris LaRocca, who have collectively, according to the Mile 277 Facebook page, opened more than 100 restaurants and bars. Among them, Chevy’s, Crazy Fish, J. Bucks, Baxter’s Lakeside Grille at the Lake of the Ozarks, and Triumph Grill and Kota Grill in Midtown. Among the dishes mentioned on the Facebook page are a sweet and sour chicken salad with ginger-sesame dressing, a steak chili and the Fat Boy Beef Brisket with pepper Jack cheese, barbecue sauce and grilled onions on Texas toast.

Take the off-ramp at Mile 277 this Spring.

The Scoop: New Midtown hotel will include a café

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

042310_culinarchgroupWhen SLU and The Lawrence Group announced on Wednesday their joint plans to develop the Ignacio Hotel, a 51-room boutique hotel in the former Interiors Unlimited Building on Olive Street, we wondered whether food-service plans were more involved than simply creating an interior connection to Triumph Grill on the hotel’s west side. SLU’s director of real estate, Peter Pierotti, responded in the affirmative, stating that there would be space for a café on the south side of the building and that food service would be handled by Triumph Grill. That restaurant is owned by Lawrence Group president Steve Smith.

A call to Lori Dolan of restaurant development and management company Culinarchgroup (formerly known as Culinary Architects) confirmed that she and company president Chris LaRocca would also be involved in this project. LaRocca and Dolan were responsible for the launch of Triumph Grill and Smith’s other restaurant, the recently opened Kota Wood Fire Grill on Grand Boulevard across the street from the Fox Theatre.

“By March of 2011 it should be up and running,” stated Dolan of the new development that adds another dimension to the Grand Center arts district and the eastward expansion of Midtown Alley. “We’re excited about it and it should be a plus for everyone.”

– Ligaya Figueras

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