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Feb 24, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Kore Wilbert’

The Garden on Grand closes shortly after the one-year mark

Monday, December 4th, 2017

The long bar seats more than a dozen and offers classic and house cocktails, as well as wine and beer. Customers perched at the far end can watch the action in the partially open kitchen.


After just over a year in business, The Garden on Grand at 2245 S. Grand Ave., has shuttered, as reported by St. Louis Magazine. The announcement of the closure was made on the restaurant’s Facebook page: 

“Regretfully, after a little more than a year, The Garden on Grand will be closing its doors after a final dinner service on Saturday, Nov. 24. We have had an incredible year, filled with ups and downs, and in this season of gratitude, we want to thank you – our customers, staff, friends and family – for your invaluable support throughout the year. We are already working on the next chapter ­– stay tuned!”

The Garden on Grand opened in September 2016. Owner Cevin Lee and then-executive chef Kore Wilbert wanted to create health-focused dishes without sacrificing flavor. Sauce reviewed The Garden on Grand in December 2016.

Lee said the restaurant got off to a fast start and was never able to catch up. “We didn’t really get a chance to slowly grow the concept,” he said. “We got slammed from day one. The food and service was well received. We just came hard out of the gate and never recovered.”

Lee, who owns the property, said he is talking to some potential buyers, but nothing has been signed. He plans to open another concept at some point but said he intends to take his time and incorporate the lessons learned from the closure.

Editor’s note: This post was updated at 4:30 p.m. to include comments from Cevin Lee and to correct a statement describing dishes at the restaurant.

Photo by Michelle Volansky

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• First Look: The Garden on Grand

• Review: The Garden on Grand

• The Garden on Grand to open this fall

First Look: The Garden on Grand

Friday, September 9th, 2016



Just north of the hustle and bustle on South Grand, The Garden on Grand has opened with limited hours at 2245 S. Grand Blvd. As The Scoop reported in August 2015, owner Cevin Lee and executive chef Kore Wilbert hope to provide meals that are health-focused without sacrificing flavor.

Lee and Wilbert spent more than a year transforming the former Islamic Information Center into a 68-seat restaurant. Lee designed the interior, which features a long bar, exposed brick, repurposed metalwork and live plants. Dining tables were hewn from a single tree trunk.

The dinner menu includes eight appetizers like duck pot stickers and cashew and almond hummus along with eight entrees including coconut fried rice with shrimp, grilled lamb and roasted salmon. Wilbert sources some produce locally through vendors like Double Star Farms, Such and Such Farm and Hosco Farms. A full bar is available with more than a dozen house cocktails, as well as bottled beer and wine options. Seven brunch cocktails take a slushy turn; all but one features Hosco Farms sorbets.

The Garden on Grand is currently open Fridays and Saturday from 5 p.m. to approximately 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for brunch. Lee and Wilbert will launch into regular hours Sept. 23, starting at 8 a.m. for breakfast. The restaurant will close after lunch and reopen at 5 p.m. for dinner service. Here’s a first look at The Garden on Grand:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky


The Scoop: The Garden on Grand to open this fall

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015



{Chef Kore Wilbert and his children}


South Grand will welcome its newest eatery this fall when The Garden on Grand, a progressive, fresh dining restaurant serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner opens its doors at 2245 S. Grand Blvd. Hoping to appeal as much to the neighborhood as to the health conscious, chef Kore Wilbert will put organic, locally grown ingredients into meals for vegetarians and meat lovers alike.

“You can serve things like pork that aren’t traditionally considered healthy, but in the right portion size and paired with something healthy, you can have balance,” said Wilbert who came aboard eight months ago after serving as executive sous chef at DePaul Health Center.

Owner Cevin Lee was inspired to open the restaurant following his own journey into “raw, almost vegan” eating, which he said all but freed him from debilitating arthritis pain. “In three months of going cold turkey, I was basically able to get my immune system back to normal. It’s a lifestyle commitment and removing things from your body that shouldn’t be there and putting things in that your body needs,” said Lee whose family has owned neighboring Hong Kong Express for nearly 25 years.

Drawing on Lee’s Asian heritage and Wilbert’s affinity for Mediterranean cuisine, the menu is shaping up to be a house take on a variety of international classics like chop suey-style dishes, bahn mi and assorted Italian dishes. “We’re trying to do dishes that will please the neighborhood but are also healthy and wholesome,” Wilbert said.

Some of those wholesome ingredients include locally sourced produce including heirloom zucchini and zucchini blossoms, which will be grown specifically for The Garden on Grand. The restaurant will also include a fresh juice bar and will seat up to 55 diners.

Editor’s note: This post was updated Aug. 27 at 2 p.m. with the correct name of The Garden on Grand and an additional quote from owner Cevin Lee. 

-photo by Ashley Gieseking


What I Do: Kore Wilbert

Friday, April 11th, 2014



Kore Wilbert, 29, is a former member of hip-hop group The Royal Illete, has twice competed on the winning team at Taste of St. Louis’ Chef Battle Royale, and from time to time he works the line at Mad Tomato and MX Movies. But as sous chef at DePaul Health Center, the L’École Culinaire graduate is a rising rock star in institutional dining, proving that cooking outside the confines of a restaurant has its perks, especially when you want to be a family man.

What’s it like to cook at a hospital?
It was a whole different world coming from a small restaurant where you feed 250 people a night to thousands of people on a daily basis.

What’s your job?
I’ve got 30 guys under me. I work with the catering staff, and we do production for the cafeteria, as well as patient room service. And we feed the other facility, St. Vincent’s. That’s behavioral health, and we feed the adults, the children, the adolescents. They give me the control to put it all together.

Is the kitchen decked out?
We have everything: flattops, ranges, 60-gallon tilt skillets. We have these really cool machines called Rationals. They are ovens and smokers and steamers. I’d never worked with one before I came here. We have four walk-ins (It took me three weeks to know where everything was.). We have a CVap, an immersion circulator – everything you can think of. And if we don’t have it we can get it, which is something that a small restaurant won’t be able to do.

Why have cutting-edge kitchen equipment at a hospital?
Usually when people are staying here, it’s because they are ill or coming to see a loved one. We want to make sure that the food is something they don’t have to worry about. That it’s something that’s really good, that’s comforting, that can maybe change their mood even just a little bit to make their stay more comfortable.

What are best-sellers at the cafeteria?
We’re never going to get rid of our chicken wings. Rice noodles and beef: All the nursing staff, if it’s that day, they are going to be there. Once a year we do soul food, which is very popular. People will bring their lunch all year, but on that day, they head right down to the cafeteria. It just let’s you know that the hospital does have a sense of community.

I’ve always perceived of hospital food as bland, gray mush.
People definitely think about it like that. But here, we’ve changed a lot of people’s minds. We don’t cut corners; we do everything from scratch. [At the cafeteria,] you’ve got a lot of options. Our “innovation station” showcases different foods from around the world: Japanese, Italian, Indian … it changes every day.

Do you miss working at a restaurant?
I do. Being on the line, putting out really good dishes, turning over an entire dining room – it’s a rush. Cooking on the line here is completely different. If I was working at a restaurant, I’d be working long nights, long hours and my family would be neglected. [There is] little to no personal life. This job gives me the time to do what I want to do. I can spend time with my kids, put them to bed every night. It’s the perfect job for a chef.

Is the mindset that a restaurant is the only place to find a job as a chef?
It is. But that’s not the only option. You can still be a chef. There are plenty of places you can go. If it’s food-related, you can get into it.

Can you still be a chef and in a hip-hop group?
I dance with my kids, but I don’t perform anymore.

-photo by Ashley Gieseking

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