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Feb 01, 2015
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Posts Tagged ‘The Scoop’

The Scoop: Lukas Liquor announces new location, name change

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015



Change is in the air at Lukas Liquor; come mid-May, the store will move to a new, larger location at 15678 Manchester Road in Ellisville and will take on a new name: Lukas Wine & Spirits. The new location is less than a half-mile from Lukas Liquor’s current store at 15921 Manchester Road, where it has operated for 15 years.

Owner Gary Bilder said property owners had approached him before about leasing the massive space, a former Best Buy, but he had not decided to move until recently. “We’re simply out of room,” Bilder said “By moving, we’re adding 7,000 more square feet of space to our store. Even our parking lot will be bigger for customers.”

Bilder will take 31,000-square-feet of the new space, which will double the size of Lukas’ beer department and dramatically expand the wine department. The new Lukas Wine & Spirits will also have a full cash bar inside the store in case you need refreshment after walking all those extended aisles.

The Scoop: Hungry Buddha to open on South Jefferson

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015


 Editor’s Note: This post was updated at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 29.

Prepare for pan-Asian fare according to the sign on the storefront at 3701 Jefferson Ave., where Hungry Buddha is set to open at the end February. “We’re going to be a fast-casual restaurant with a solid bar program,” said Keyan Still, who is consulting for owner Kirk Appazeller. “All the food is going to be fresh, very culinary but fast-casual.”

Still, who is currently a bartender at Planter’s House and Robust, has previously managed Hendrick’s BBQ and worked as beverage director at Sanctuaria. The former Jefferson Bistro space will include an indoor dining area, an outdoor patio and upstairs lounge, each of which will seat 60 patrons. The restaurant also plans to offer delivery service.

Still said he and Appazeller are still choosing kitchen and front-of-house staff, as well as finalizing the menu. Items may include spring rolls, yakatori, bahn mi, steam buns, fried chicken wings, noodle bowls and desserts.

According to former owner Blake Brokaw, the upcoming Hungry Buddha is not affiliated with Brokaw’s former restaurant of the same name, which shuttered in 2003.


The Scoop: Chris DiMercurio nabbed for exec chef position at HandleBar

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015


{From Russia With Love, a flatbread of smoked salmon, greens, dill, creme fraiche, pickled onion and caviar by HandleBar’s new executive chef Chris DiMercurio}


In the last six months, keeping track of chef Chris DiMercurio’s whereabouts has been a bit like playing “Where’s Waldo?” DiMercurio, among the handful of chefs who launched Element, left that restaurant in the summer to work in the kitchen at Old Standard. By mid-November, he joined Cassy Vires at Home Wine Kitchen, but that stint was short, as the Maplewood restaurant closed at the end of 2014. So where’s DiMercurio now? HandleBar.

The new executive chef at HandleBar joined the culinary team at The Grove restaurant a little over a week ago, according to owner Tatyana Telnikova. “I needed somebody a little more fresh, passionate, professional and with a vision,” Telnikova said. “Chris really fits all of that. He’s talented, we get along well, and he’s easy to communicate with. He became available since Home Wine Kitchen closed, so I reached out to him.”

DiMercurio will work within the confines of HandleBar’s Russian-inspired fare, and Telnikova said she’s looking forward to what DiMercurio has to offer, particulary his creativity and experience with a farm-to-table style of cooking that relies on sourcing locally.

Currently, DiMercurio is experimenting with new dishes, many of which are landing in HandleBar’s menu as specials. “He made this flatbread called called from Russia with Love. It’s a spin on the restaurant’s redfish pizza, but prepared in a slightly different way and served with caviar on top,” Telnikova said. Another recent creation includes a creamed cauliflower soup with green apples, and DiMercurio has his eyes on building a Russian-inspired burger.

HandleBar will roll out a new menu in March. Besides a new bill of fare, patrons can expect a new cocktail menu that puts whiskey in the spotlight and a fresh look to the space. To prepare, HandleBar will close the last week of February to refinish its floors and give the bar a facelift. Doors reopen March 1.

The Scoop: Tiny Bar to open downtown in April

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015



Downtown St. Louis will gain an itty bitty bar this spring. Tiny Bar will be set up a 250-square-foot shop in the lobby at 1008 Locust St. The bar, set to open in April, is a joint venture between Aaron Perlut (pictured), Andrew Barnett and Brian Cross of public relations firm Elasticity and the building’s owner Daniel Cook, as reported by St. Louis Business Journal. Elasticity is located on the third floor of the same building.

“It was a really instinctive decision in that Dan was trying to find a use for the space,” Perlut said. “We really wanted to create a very unique space that would complement what’s already downtown and serve high-quality beverages.”

True to its name, The Tiny Bar will seat just eight to 12 people, and Perlut said Tiny Bar will serve wine, five local craft beers on draft and top-shelf liquor and cocktails. We’ve been working with (co-owner) Ted Charack from Planter’s House to create a drink menu. We certainly won’t be relying on any of the (Elasticity) owners’ expertise for that stuff.”



The Scoop: The Wine Merchant prepares to move to larger location

Monday, January 26th, 2015



After 20 years on South Hanley Road, The Wine Merchant will relocate just two blocks away at 7817 Forsyth Blvd., as reported by St. Louis Business Journal. Wine Merchant vice president Jason Main said plans to move the specialty shop first surfaced in spring 2014 when a developer approached shop management.

Rehab to the space, the former home of First National Bank, began in late fall. “There will be an amazing level of rehab,” Main said. “The interior will be mezzanine style. We’re getting a new computer system, a new wine rack and liquor cabinet. It will be the coolest wine shop in St. Louis.”

Other building improvements include two second-floor event spaces. Main said the rooms, which will seat about 30 people each, will be used for more frequent, enhanced classes, winemaker symposiums and private tastings. “People call up and want a class for eight people,” Main said. “The new space will mostly be able to accommodate that. We’re also talking about adding Sunday classes. We’re in uncharted territory. We’re going to take it slow and see what develops and what the public wants.”

While some elements are expanding, the shop’s extensive selection of wine and cheese will remain the same “We like to keep it seasonal,” he said. “All of our employees have tasted the wines, and … we taste everything before we buy it.”

Look for The Wine Merchant to move into its new building in late spring or early summer.



The Scoop: Tony’s to open casual downtown cafe, Tony’s A.M.

Friday, January 23rd, 2015


{Vince Bommarito Jr.}


Tony’s Restaurant has relaxed its dress code, but if those nice tablecloths still intimidate you, you may feel more at home at the Bommarito family’s forthcoming casual cafe, Tony’s A.M., it’s opening mid-February at 10 S. Broadway, as reported by the St. Louis Business Journal, and will be located just down the street from the downtown icon of Italian cuisine. Tony’s A.M. will operate under the direction of Tony’s executive chef, Vince Bommarito Jr.

Hours will be 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and prices between $3 and $10 at the counter-service cafe, which will serve made-to-order breakfast and lunch, plus desserts by Tony’s pastry chef Helen Fletcher. Morning options will include breakfast sandwiches and pastries by Fletcher, while the lunch menu will feature hot and cold sandwiches made from fresh-roasted turkey, ham and roast beef, plus salads and three soups.

The new eatery won’t serve alcohol, but local roaster Chauvin Coffee will provide coffee service and craft a special blend for Tony’s A.M., which will also sell Chauvin beans.

Bommarito said wasn’t planning to open a morning restaurant, but he agreed to it when the building’s management company offered him the space. He anticipates the cafe will draw customers from the building’s other tenants, which include law and accounting firms, and which will gain around 200 new people next month when architecture firm HOK moves in.

-photo by Carmen Troesser



The Scoop: Companion to move baking operations to new facility in Maryland Heights

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015


{Companion owner Josh Allen}


Companion has recently annouced plans to move its headquarters, including the Companion outlet, from its current location in the Dutchtown neighborhood to a new 41,000-square-foot facility at 2331 Schuetz Road in Maryland Heights. Construction is slated to begin in March with the move scheduled for August. The new facility will house baking operations, a private event space, a baking school for home cooks and a 60-seat cafe serving breakfast and lunch.




Companion owner and founder Josh Allen said he has finally reached the end of the two year search for a new location. The 4.5 acres in Maryland Heights will provide opportunities to increase Companion’s overall capacity and growth, he said, as well as add more space and improved climate controls, safety and sanitation processes. It will also let him connect with his clientele in a new way.

“We want to teach folks about what we do,” Allen said. “The cafe will be right on the production floor, so our bakers can show off their work and people can see them in action. We’ll be able to better accommodate tours, too. We’ve been missing that personal interaction.”

-photos by Spencer Pernikoff

The Scoop: Mastermind Vodka to move from Illinois to Missouri

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015



Illinois-based Mastermind Vodka  is moving its award-winning spirits across the muddy Mississippi. Taking over the space formerly occupied by The Nest at 10440 German Blvd., in Frontenac, Mastermind hopes to open its distilling operations, tasting room and restaurant by mid-April.

While the restaurant’s concept, chef and bartender are still in the works, the makers of the small-batch vodka and moonshine are confident about their new location.

“Pontoon Beach is a wonderful place, but we wanted to branch out,” said spokesman John Parker. “The central location balances West County, South County and the central corridor.”

The restaurant will seat up to 150 inside with plans to create outdoor seating. Mastermind Vodka products are currently distributed to retailers in the St. Louis and Chicago areas.

The Scoop: Guerrilla Street Food signs on for a brick-and-mortar

Monday, January 19th, 2015


{Guerrilla Street Food at Food Truck Friday}


Heads up, South Grand: a Filipino invasion is headed your way this spring. Co-owner Brian Hardesty announced that his popular food truck Guerrilla Street Food has signed a lease to open a brick-and-mortar location at 3024 S. Grand Blvd., as reported by St. Louis Magazine.

The space, formerly occupied by Sekisui, sits at the intersection of Grand and Arsenal Streets at the burgeoning dining and entertainment district in Tower Grove. Hardesty said he anticipates an April opening. “We love the South Grand neighborhood,” he said. “It’s a place that we go when we get off work … It’s a great community and we just want to be a part of it.”

Hardesty, who left his position as executive chef at Element in November, said the 1,500-square-foot space would allow for about 24 seats inside and about 12 on the adjoining patio. He envisions a fast-casual spot open for lunch and dinner service with an expanded menu of Guerrilla Street favorites and new offerings. “(We’ll) more than double our current menu,” Hardesty said. “We’ll add a bunch of side dishes … There are so many new dishes from the Philippines we have yet to explore.”

Guerrilla Street Food joins a growing list of food trucks that have added brick-and-mortar spaces to their operations. Lulu’s Local Eatery opened in May 2014 in the same neighborhood, and Seoul Taco relocated to a larger location at 6665 Delmar Blvd. in University City in December 2014.

Can’t wait until April to get your Filipino fix? It’s business as usual on the food truck, which will continue to roll after the brick-and-mortar opening. Hardesty is also opening a Guerrilla Street satellite kitchen at 33 Wine Bar at 1913 Park Ave., in Lafayette Square. The food begins flying this Friday, Jan. 23, and will continue every Friday and Saturday night.

-photo by Michelle Volansky


The Scoop: Miss Leon’s Soul Food Restaurant, Bombers Hideaway open in The Grove

Thursday, January 15th, 2015



Serving soul food with a side of entertainment, Miss Leon’s Soul Food Restaurant and Bombers Hideaway bar and event venue opened Jan. 5 at 3960 Chouteau Ave., formerly the home of Bad Dog Bar & Grill.

Leon Augustus Braxton Jr. is the chef at the eponymous soul-food establishment, which is tucked into the Bombers Hideaway building but has a separate kitchen and dining area. Braxton formerly cooked at CJ’s On the Hill and Rehab Bar & Grill, both owned by Chad Fox and Jim Weckmann, who also own Bombers Hideaway.

“I’ve been frying chicken my whole life,” Braxton said. “I’ve grown up on comfort food: food your grandma fixed you when you were sick, food your family had after church on Sunday morning. I focus on the food I grew up on.”

Miss Leon’s is open 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. Children are welcome until 7 p.m., and for $10 on Sundays, diners are treated to all-you-can-eat fried chicken.

The big hit so far has been chicken gizzards, Braxton said, and other menu items include catfish, chicken-fried steak, macaroni and cheese and greens.

The restaurant doesn’t serve alcohol, but there’s plenty available at the Bombers Hideaway bar. “I don’t want to have to deal with my own liquor license,” Braxton said. “I like the give and take that a restaurant and a bar have for each other.”

Entertainment at Bombers Hideaway ranges from line-dancing lessons to dart competitions to cabaret shows, which take place in the large adjoining event space, a converted warehouse with stage lighting and a performance platform.

-photo courtesy of Timrek Photography 

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