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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Gontram’

Five Star Burgers closes Kirkwood location

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017



The 5 Star Burgers location in Kirkwood at 312 S. Kirkwood Road has closed. As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the restaurant served its last burger on Thursday, Sept. 28. The 5 Star locations in Clayton and Creve Coeur remain open.

According to owner Stephen Gontram, upcoming scheduled roadwork on Kirkwood Road and a new double drive-thru at a nearby Starbucks location helped him make the decision to close.

“(Starbucks) does a lot of business, and they create a lot of traffic. I was really concerned that the combination of construction project plus the long-term congestion on Kirkwood Road was really going to hurt business,” he said. “We had a good four years and did good business, but sometimes you see the writing on the wall. It’s kind of a side step for us. I wasn’t happy to have to do it, but I felt like I had to do it.”

Gontram said he’s sold the building and is in the process of putting the equipment in storage. Though he’s not actively seeking out a new 5 Star location, Gontram said ultimately, he’d like to do a project in St. Louis city.

“I’m a city kid at heart, and I’d love to be able to put something in the city,” he said.  “And I don’t even know if it’d be a 5 Star Burgers. It might be something else.”


Editor’s Note: This article originally stated in the incorrect location of Starbucks. It was updated at 4:15 p.m. Oct. 4 to correct this information. 

Matt Sorrell is a staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
5 Star Burgers to open third Missouri location in Creve Coeur

• A look at Steve Gontram’s 5 Star Burgers, opening today

The Scoop: 5 Star Burgers to open third Missouri location in Creve Coeur

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015



5 Star Burgers is set to open a third Missouri location at 11621 Olive Blvd., in Creve Coeur as early as March 2016. As reported by Feast, owner Steve Gontram said new location will serve the same fan favorites as the Kirkwood and Clayton locations.

The 2,750-square-foot space will be a comparable size and design as the other locations, seating approximately 90 people with another 36 on the patio. Gontram said Creve Coeur was the right choice for their expansion because it was a similar location as their two previous restaurants. “Opening a restaurant is something I really love to do,” he said. “I love the energy and the stress. It’s never easy, but at this point, we’ve learned a lot from the other two locations.”

Although no other expansion plans have been officially announced, Gontram said he is entertaining the idea of opening additional St. Louis locations, as well as reaching beyond the 314 into other  markets. Gontram’s father originated the 5 Star Burger concept it New Mexico, where there are four locations.



The Scoop: Five Star Burgers gets beefy with a second location in Kirkwood

Friday, September 6th, 2013



Less than one year after opening Five Star Burgers, owner Steve Gontram is moving ahead with plans to open a second location. No. 2 will be in Kirkwood at 312 S. Kirkwood Road in the just-closed Culpepper’s space, as reported by St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe. The target opening date is Dec. 15.

Gontram was actively looking for a space in the St. Louis metro area for the last six months, he told The Scoop. He said he settled on Kirkwood because “it really fits our concept,” explaining that the community “has a great demographic, is a family-oriented area, and there’re a lot of great local restaurants.”

The first Five Star Burgers location opened in Clayton in October 2012. And while No. 2 is in the works, Gontram may just be getting started. He said he is looking to open a third location, eyeing the Central West End, Chesterfield, the Highway 40/Clarkson areas or even downtown St. Louis, with the goal to have doors unlocked during Five Star’s third year in business in St. Louis. (The Five Star Burger concept was originated in New Mexico by Gontram’s father. It also has locations in Colorado.)

Gontram discussed the success of the Clayton location with The Scoop, saying the restaurant exceed his expectations, especially its popularity with families, the wide age range of its customer base and its “good energy.” With its signature 5 Star Burger and specialty Dad’s Green Chile Cheeseburger topping the popularity chart among menu offerings, Gontram has thus far achieved what he set out to do: “I didn’t want to open a bar. I wanted to open a restaurant.”

-Photo by Jonathan Gayman



Extra Sauce: More from our interview with Steve Gontram

Monday, February 11th, 2013

In this month’s Five Questions (page 50), Steve Gontram told us about some of his favorite restaurant experiences along with details about his latest venture, Five Star Burgers. Here, we give you the extended version of his interview.

First, there was the wondering: What would chef/restaurateur Steve Gontram’s next move be? Now, there’s only the satisfaction. At Five Star Burgers, the latest in a chain created by his father, Gontram is plating up some outstanding American food. Here, the creative force who originated Harvest and is considered a local pioneer in the farm-to-table movement, talks Turkey, goat and quail.

You’re famous for cooking meals and delivering them yourself right from the kitchen. At 5 Star, are you in the back or front of the house?
Both. Today I toasted 200 buns for lunch. On Saturday, I was expediting and running food. I do a little bit of everything. This afternoon I’m filling out W-2s for my employees.

What’s the farthest you’ve traveled for a great meal?
I had a great meal in the “Fairy Chimneys” area in Cappadocia, Turkey. This is an area of rock formations that look like huge stalagmites, and people live in them. Turkey is so gorgeous. The meal was very traditional, with Turkish coffee, clay-oven cooking and Turkish wine.

What’s the most unusual item on the menu at 5 Star?
On the core menu, the burger that gets the most raves is Dad’s Green Chile Cheeseburger, which is a New Mexico staple. Ours has crispy Hatch chiles, pepper jack cheese and green-chile mayo – it’s got a kick. We’re doing a fun burger-of-the-month year round, too. In January, it was the Goatburger, made with Jones Heritage Farm goat, topped with a little ancho chile-mango salsa and fried plantains.

You’ve been in Bon Appétit, on the Food Network and were invited to prepare dinner at the James Beard House in New York City. What’s the highlight of your culinary career?
Definitely the James Beard house. They can put me on the cover of Rolling Stone, but my career highlight will always be the Thanksgiving of ’98. It was a lot of fun and a great honor. I remember I did a yellow beet-Champagne as an aperitif, and fig-stuffed roast quail. It was like eight courses, a decadent meal.

Describe your single greatest episode of gluttony.
A 24-course tasting menu at Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit in New York, a few years back. There’s also the times when you whole-roast a pig with some friends and eat the whole thing. I’m a chef. I don’t have a dainty figure. It’s the indulgence industry. A couple decades ago, fine dining was all about caviar and foie gras, but it can still be pretty indulgent.

If you’re going to be drinking for hours, what’s your drink?
A low-alcohol session beer by The Civil Life or my drink of choice: a perfect rye Manhattan, which I call “Manhappy.”

That amazingly, amazingly delicious bread pudding at Harvest was your creation?
Yeah. That is a great dessert. I sold that when I sold the restaurant, though; I can’t sell it anymore.

You were one of the founders of the St. Louis Originals?
I was one of the three or four that floated the idea and brought everybody together. The core group was Cardwell’s, Annie Gunn’s, Tony’s, Harvest and a few others. Five Star is not in the group as of yet. The Originals are now centered on a rewards program called the Power Card, that can be redeemed at any of the restaurants. We’re just three months old and haven’t decided if we want to get involved in a rewards program yet.

Do you have any secret parking tips for 5 Star?
A lot of people don’t realize we have a massive lot in the back, and if it’s not the middle of lunchtime, there’s usually a space back there.

You worked for Wolfgang Puck at his Bay Area restaurant, Postrio. What’s it like to work for him?
Wolfgang was an awesome guy, very friendly, very eager to educate and offer advice – a very cool guy and a very shrewd businessman.

For your beef you sought out Creekstone Farms, where celebrated cattle expert Temple Grandin designed the facility. Have you met her?
Creekstone has their facility in Kansas, and she designed it from the ground up. I haven’t met her, but I’ve seen videos of her speeches and watched the HBO movie about her.

The 5 Star happy hour deals sound tempting.
Yes. From 4 to 6 p.m., seven days a week, it’s half price on all drafts, and mini burgers – call them sliders if you will – [are] anywhere from $1.25 to $1.50, and $2 cheese curds, and other specials. The mini burgers come in Angus beef, turkey, veggie and fried chicken.

What’s it like to work closely with your dad, who created 5 Star Burgers restaurants and operates them in New Mexico and Colorado?
It’s been fun. We’ve talked about this concept for a long time, and he has a ton of experience in the burger business. It’s fun to bring his knowledge and my chef background together and do creative burgers.

What’s the funniest and the most frightening thing you’ve seen in a restaurant kitchen?
The funniest was when we had a great server leave us at Harvest, and the kitchen decided we would bake him a goodbye cake, and we threw all this awful stuff in it including ghost chiles and served it to him with candles. He took a huge bite, and I don’t think he made it through service, I think he had to leave early. He was a good sport about it.

The most frightening was also at Harvest. One Saturday night we were extremely busy, and I was doing an osso bucco special, and I was searing off osso bucco and one slipped from my tongs and hit the pan of oil and splattered up and coated the back of my hand and burned the hell out of my hand. The skin was not really there. I was working the line, though, and there was no one to replace me. So I bandaged my hand up and kept it in a bain-marie of ice water and worked one-handed the entire Saturday night, which was pretty much an impossible task. That was a bad night. Every cook has a good burn story.

— photo by Jonathan Gayman


A look at Steve Gontram’s 5 Star Burgers, opening today

Monday, October 8th, 2012

It’s been quite a while since we told you about chef Steve Gontram’s newest venture, 5 Star Burgers. But today the doors to 5 Star Burgers will finally open at 8125 Maryland Ave., in Clayton. Gontram (pictured, right), who opened Harvest back in 1996, is embarking on his burger-laden path with the aid of his father, Bob Gontram (pictured, left), who has been developing 5 Star Burgers in New Mexico since 2008.

All of 5 Star’s beef, which is ground daily, hails from Creekstone Farms, where steers are humanely pasture-raised and grain finished for marbling and flavor. That beef is showcased in seven burger options on 5 Star’s menu, including the Breakfast of Champions (topped with a sunny-side-up egg, American cheese, roasted tomato-bacon jam and hollandaise), the Missouri Magic Mushroom (touting sauteed Ozark Forest mushrooms, caramelized onions and Swiss), and Dad’s Green Chili Cheeseburger (pictured below), which features crispy New Mexico Hatch chiles, pepper jack cheese and green-chile mayonnaise.

Guests looking for something beyond beef will be able to choose from lamb, bison, turkey and veggie burgers as well as a slew of sandwiches, salads and sides. Pictured here are sweet potato fries brushed with salted maple cream. As for drink offerings, look for a lengthy beer list, wines by the glass and half-bottle, cocktails, alcoholic ice cream drinks and specialty Maine Root Fountain Soda. When doors open today, the restaurant will operate seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

The Scoop: Former Harvest head honcho Steve Gontram to open Five Star Burgers in Clayton

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

In August 2010, The Scoop reported that Steve Gontram, who opened Harvest back in 1996, was selling his Richmond Heights restaurant to chef Nick Miller. It became clear last summer, however, that Gontram’s leave-taking from the restaurant industry would be fairly short-lived, as he announced that he’d soon be opening a burger joint. More news is now rolling in about Gontram’s concept.

Five Star Burgers, as reported by St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe, is expected to open this summer in Clayton at 8125 Maryland Ave., in the double-storefront spaces formerly occupied by a florist and photo gallery. Five Star Burgers will essentially be a sister restaurant to the eateries by the same name that his father operates in New Mexico.

Gontram will feature a lineup of nine to 10 burgers as well as a few sandwiches, salads and milkshakes. Interior seating will include 80 in the dining area and more at the full bar, plus 20 on the patio. The meat – from beef to lamb to turkey – will be all-natural, hormone-free and sourced from the Midwest. Gontram, a trailblazer for farm-to-table dining in St. Louis who calls himself “passionate about the subject,” was adamant about offering 80-20 beef, which he finds to be the ideal lean-to-fat ratio. He will also be using beef from cattle finished on a natural grain diet, an extra step that offers “outstanding marbling and flavor. You want your customer to taste the meat itself,” he noted. “The toppings are one thing … but in the end, you want to taste the good burger.”

As for milkshakes, look for the standard trio of ice cream flavors (vanilla, chocolate and strawberry) as well as a couple “creative” shakes. Gontram noted that he would like to use local Serendipity Homemade Ice Cream for the frozen treat but no agreement has been made just yet.

Despite the high-quality ingredients that Gontram will be using, he still wants Five Star Burgers to be an affordable place to eat, with burgers priced between $6.50 and $10. “I am really hesitant to break that $10 barrier,” he said. “That is a significant mental barrier. This concept is predicated on serving a really high quality product but at a really good value.”

Gontram is currently awaiting a conditional-use permit from the city of Clayton that would allow him to convert the space for restaurant use, a construction-process that will take approximately three months. “I am cautiously optimistic that I can have this open by July,” he said.

The Scoop: Another local name ventures into the burger world

Friday, June 24th, 2011

080510_harvestRight on the heels of Dave Bailey’s announcement that his new downtown restaurant will be a from-scratch slant on burgers and shakes, there’s news today that Steve Gontram, the former owner of Harvest who sold the restaurant to chef Nick Miller last summer, is also looking to get into the burger business. George Mahe over at St. Louis Magazine has the scoop.

The Scoop: No changes to the kitchen in Harvest sale

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

080510_harvestAs St. Louis Magazine’s George Mahe reported, the executive chef at Harvest, Nick Miller, signed an asset purchase agreement yesterday, making the sale of the Richmond Heights restaurant official. Despite an earlier statement from owner Steve Gontram that “that there is no imminent activity to sell,” Gontram told Sauce this morning that the deal “all seemed to come together yesterday.”

The agreement takes effect in 30 days, meaning Miller will assume ownership on Sept. 8. While Miller and his wife, Krissie, will be majority owners of the restaurant, Gontram – who is owner-financing some of the sale – will not leave Harvest entirely. “He has financial interest, and he loves Harvest,” Miller said. “He has been nurturing Harvest for so long that he’s got emotional interest, as well.” Gontram will, however, relinquish his role in the restaurant’s day-to-day operations.

While there will be some staff changes (Miller will search for a new general manager while his wife takes on the bookkeeping), Miller said he doesn’t foresee any changes in the Harvest kitchen. “We took Brendan [Noonan] on in the beginning of June, and the two of us have been working very well together,” he said.

Both Gontram and Miller expect a smooth transition. “The plan is to be a seamless transition of ownership in which Harvest remains Harvest,” stated Miller, who has spent the last eight years at Harvest and has worked in the restaurant industry since he was 16 years old.

As for Gontram, he’s looking forward to taking some time to relax once the sale is complete, he said, especially in fine dining settings – where he can be “served instead of doing the serving.”

The Scoop – Harvest: No sale for now

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

080510_harvestContrary to recent published reports that Harvest is changing hands, the restaurant’s owner-chef Steve Gontram reassured Sauce this morning that there is no imminent activity to sell the Richmond Heights restaurant to Harvest’s executive chef Nick Miller.

“Although Nick Miller has applied with the city of Richmond Heights to explore the possibility of purchasing the restaurant, no deal is in place and no agreement has been made between us regarding the sale of the restaurant,” said Gontram. He added that, for the moment, he is “content running the restaurant as I have the past 14 years and taking care of my many past, present and future customers.”

Have scoop on restaurants opening, closing or changing their menu in the St. Louis area? Email us at Scoop@saucemagazine.com..

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