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Feb 24, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Ted Charak’

First Look: Small Change in Benton Park

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

small change in benton park

Small Change, the neighborhood bar from the folks behind Planter’s House, opened quietly on Thursday, Feb. 1, at 2800 Indiana Ave. in Benton Park.

Small Change, named after a Tom Waits record, combines qualities of a dive bar and a cocktail bar. There’s no food per se, just a couple vending machines to dispense bar snacks – all the better to focus on the drinking.

The cocktail menu features seven drinks named after Tom Waits songs or lyrics like Chocolate Jesus and Waltzing Mathilda, along with a couple of shot options: Little Drop of Poison, a rotating amaro shot, and PBJ Time, a combo of peanut butter fat-washed cognac and Manischewitz grape wine.

As at sister bar Planter’s House, Small Change focuses on fresh juices, house-made modifiers and select spirits. There’re also canned beers to choose from, along with a couple draft options.

Inside, Small Change is decorated with vintage bar signs and liquor-related novelties. Small Change has 49 seats, and when the weather starts cooperating on a regular basis, there’ll be an additional 40 to 50 seats outside.

Small Change hours are Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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Photos and captions by Caitlin Lally 

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine and occasionally bartends at Planter’s House. 

Related Content
• Planter’s House owners will open Small Change in Benton Park

• Chef Sam Boettler steps into the kitchen at Planter’s House

• Review: Planter’s House

Planter’s House owners will open Small Change in Benton Park

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017


 { from left, Ted Charak, Jamie Kilgore and Ted Kilgore }

Big news for cocktail aficionados: Planter’s House owners Ted Kilgore, Jamie Kilgore and Ted Charak will open their second bar, Small Change, in mid-January at 2800 Indiana Ave., in Benton Park.

More minimal than Planter’s House, Ted Kilgore said Small Change, named after a Tom Waits tune, will feature canned and draft beer, a small selection of spirits and a tight menu of five to six rotating cocktails, along with some bartender’s choice specials. There won’t be a formal menu per se, just a chalkboard with the day’s featured drinks.

“We’ll still have quality ice and fresh juices and some geeky stuff, but also beers and shots of quality whiskey that won’t break the bank,” Kilgore said.

Small Change won’t have a kitchen, though there will be a vending machine and a microwave on hand for those who crave some low-brow, late-night eats. “Think truck-stop sandwiches and noodle bowls, some healthy stuff, and some not-so-healthy stuff,” Kilgore said.

The trio intends for Small Change to be a neighborhood joint where guests can unwind without pressure or pretense. “The space is comfortable and laid back,” he said. “It’s similar to Planter’s House, where it feels like it could’ve been around for a while or brand-new at the same time.”

The “hobo chic” interior, which seats 49, includes repurposed chairs, tables and doors. The ancient Falstaff sign outside above the entrance, though, will eventually be replaced with the Small Change logo.

Planter’s House vet Harrison Massie will helm Small Change, and Sam McCulloch, who has previously worked at Cleveland-Heath and Niche Restaurant Group, will serve as assistant bar manager. The space will be open Sunday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to midnight and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.




The Kilgores and Charak are warming up the space Friday, Nov. 24 when Miracle, the Christmas-themed pop-up cocktail bar franchise, returns with a few changes. This year, Miracle will remain open through Dec. 31 (the last day of service in 2016 was Christmas Eve), only closing on Christmas Day.

Reservations will also be available this year via Tock, and bar seats and standing room will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Miracle will be open from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 4 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Kilgore said Miracle is also partnering with Tom’s Town Distillery. A portion of the sales of drinks featuring Tom’s Town gin and vodka will support Santa’s Helpers, an area nonprofit that assists families in need.

Owners photo by Michelle Volansky, Miracle photo courtesy of Jamie Kilgore

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Chef Sam Boettler steps into the kitchen at Planter’s House

• Review: Planter’s House

• Drink This Weekend Edition: Miracle on Chouteau Pop-up Bar

Hit List: 4 new places you must try this month

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015



1. Clementine’s Creamery: 1637 S. 18th St., St. Louis, 314.858.6100, clementinescreamery.com

Owner Tamara Keefe has peddled her rich ice creams to dozens of St. Louis-area restaurants since last fall, and now customers can snatch up “naughty” (alcohol-infused) and “nice” (non-alcoholic) creations any time at the petite shop in Lafayette Square. A rotating selection of 24 ice creams is made ultra-creamy thanks to a high 16- to 18-percent butterfat content. Try flavors like Manchego with Truffles and Honey (featuring local label Woodside) or Salted Crack Caramel swirled with house-made caramel and chocolate-covered cracker candy. Chocoholics can indulge in the luxurious (and surprisingly vegan) Coconut Chocolate Fudge made with Patric chocolate. Order your scoops in a house-made waffle cone (pictured) or, for a sophisticated sundae, get a waffle bowl and top your selection with house hot fudge lightly spiced with cumin and cinnamon.


2. Elijah P.’s: 401 Piasa St., Alton, 618.433.8445, elijahps.com

Alton has stepped up its restaurant game in recent months, and the newest addition to the roster is Elijah P.’s, serving up creative burgers, hearty appetizers and plenty of suds. The massive space boasts more than 200 seats between the large dining room, bar and spacious outdoor pavilion. Chef Jarvis Putnam helms the kitchen, creating a menu of approachable dishes like potato croquettes studded with ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano, breaded with crushed potato chips and served with house-made ranch dressing. Burgers make up the core of Elijah P.’s entrees (order the BaconJamBrie), but generously sized appetizers like littleneck clams (pictured) swimming in a fragrant broth of chorizo, white wine, tequila, clam juice and garlic can easily serve as a meal. Among the 60 draft brews and 40 bottled varieties, look for Alton breweries Templar and Old Bakery Beer, heavy hitters from The Lou like 4 Hands and Urban Chestnut, and numerous other standout beers from the Midwest.


3. Tiny Bar: 1008 Locust St., St. Louis, 314.800.7218, tinybarstl.com

This diminutive downtown cocktail bar squeezes in 10 seats – and that’s if three people don’t mind getting cozy on the couch. With real estate at a premium, quality trumps quantity behind the bar. The cocktail menu, created by Planter’s House co-owner Ted Charak, shakes up classic cocktails like martinis and Manhattans, as well as a few originals. The 1/8th Cocktail, an eight-part sipper that’s fruity and rum-forward, was made in tribute to Eddie Gaedel, the dwarf with a brief baseball career as No. 1/8 for the St. Louis Browns. Five rotating local draft brews are also available, as well as glass pours of exactly one red, white, rosé and sparkling wine. Petite patrons, note the 5-Foot Special: a 25-percent discount for those shorter than 60 inches.


4. Kingside Diner: 4651 Maryland Ave., St. Louis, 314.454.3957, kingsidediner.com 

Traditional diner fare gets the royal treatment at Kingside Diner. Located next to Saint Louis Chess Club, the chess-themed daily eatery features fare fit for a king but sold at plebeian prices. If breakfast is on your mind any time of day, order the Kingside Slinger, which piles pulled pork, chorizo chili and fried eggs atop crispy hash browns. Those who waver between waffles and French toast don’t have to choose with Waffled French Toast, brioche that bathes for a day in French toast batter before getting pressed in the waffle iron. For lunch, try the Trout and Greens Salad, or dig into the Thanksgiving All Year sandwich (pictured), which combines the flavors of the best food holiday into one giant sammie.

-Clementine’s photo by Meera Nagarajan, all others by Michelle Volansky 

The List: A Staff of Superstars at Planter’s House

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Welcome to The List, our annual homage to the people, places, dishes and drinks we love in St. Louis. Don’t miss a single pick; click here to read the whole List and share your thoughts on Twitter with #thesaucelist.



Yes, the cocktails are top-tier. Yes, the food is great. Yes, the décor makes you feel like a million bucks. But the real reason we love to take a seat at the hottest bar in town is the staff: a lineup of seasoned professionals who always keep their cool. From left to right: Kate Kinsey, Matt Sorrell, Ted Charak, Mandi Kowalski, Jamie Kilgore, Ted Kilgore, Leslie Gillette, Bradley Hoffmann, Matt Obermark and Travis Garner.

1000 Mississippi Ave., St. Louis, 314.696.2603, plantershousestl.com

-photo by Carmen Troesser

Sneak Peek: Planter’s House

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

120313_PlantersHouse_06{From left, Planter’s House co-owners Ted Charak, Jamie and Ted Kilgore}


Even if Jamie and Ted Kilgore did not write about spirits and cocktails for Sauce Magazine, we’d still be buzzing over Planter’s House, the cocktail bar that the husband-and-wife bartending team, along with business partner Ted Charak, are opening in Lafayette Square. Located in a historic building at 1000 Mississippi Ave., at the corner of Chouteau Avenue, Planter’s House has been highly anticipated since Kilgore announced the concept a year ago.

The powerhouse bar team at Planter’s includes Matt Obermark, Travis Garner, Matt Sorrell, Mandi Kowlaski, Will Fischer and Ted Kilgore. “It’s a badass staff for a badass place,” said co-owner Ted Kilgore.

The wait is nearly over. Planter’s House will open to the public Thursday, Dec. 5. Fittingly, that date is also Repeal Day, which marks the end of Prohibition. When doors open, hours will be Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday from 2 p.m. (yes, 2 p.m.) to 1 a.m., and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.

As you wait for the cocktail shaking to commence at Planter’s House, get a glimpse of what’s in store on our Facebook page.



The Scoop: Planter’s House names Bradley Hoffmann exec chef

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

073013_bradleyhoffman{Bradley Hoffmann}


Bar and restaurant Planter’s House has been the talk of the town since it was announced in December last year. While there is still much the ownership group of veteran bartenders – husband and wife Ted and Jamie Kilgore, and their business partner, Ted Charak – have to do to ready the space at 1000 Mississippi Ave., in Lafayette Square, one more item can be crossed off the checklist: a chef.

Bradley Hoffmann has been named executive chef at Planter’s House. Hoffmann comes to the bar and restaurant off the heels of the sudden closing of Salt, where he worked as executive chef since December 2012. (Hoffmann was also among the Sauce Ones to Watch class of 2013.) Hoffmann stated that the Planter’s House menu, still in development, will be “bar-centric,” but there will be options for sit-down dining “where you can still have a really nice meal.”

“We’re pretty excited,” said Ted Kilgore about bringing Hoffmann on board, but admitted, “we have a lot more work to do” before Planter’s House unlocks its doors this fall. An opening date has not been announced.

-Photo by Carmen Troesser

The Scoop: Ted Kilgore leaving Taste to open The Planter’s House

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Ted Kilgore, arguably St. Louis’ most well-known bartender, is leaving his post as beverage director at Taste to open a cocktail bar in Lafayette Square called The Planter’s House.

Kilgore isn’t going solo in this new venture, which will be located in the building (pictured) at 1000 Mississippi Ave., at the corner of Chouteau and Mississippi Avenues. He’s teaming up with business partner Ted Charak, currently bar manager at Taste’s sister restaurant, Brasserie, in the Central West End. Charak joined the French bistro in the summer of 2010. Among the highlights of his 10 years in the bar biz is opening nationally recognized craft cocktail bar Teardrop Lounge in Portland, Ore., in 2006.

Since doors won’t open at The Planter’s House until mid-2013, Kilgore will remain behind the Taste bar for the next four to six months. “It just depends on how our project goes,” Kilgore said. After that, he will stay on board as a beverage consultant for Craft Restaurants, chef-owner Gerard Craft’s family of four eateries.

What will the next phase of Taste look like? “We aren’t going to lose any of Taste’s original concept,” said Taste GM Jack Noecker of the modern speakeasy that has received national aplomb. “There are a lot of people who have put a ton of work into learning, sometimes under the shadow of Ted. It’s an awesome opportunity for them.”

Taking over as bar manager will be Kyle Mathis, who has worked at Taste since February and has worked on and off at Craft’s various other restaurants since 2008. Other bartenders at Taste include: Mathis’ brother, Corey Mathis; Joel Burton; Heather Dodderer, who has worked at Taste since its infancy; and Diana Benante. (Kyle Mathis and Benante recently tied for the highest score among all examinees on the written portion of the Bar Smarts advanced course exam, a bartender education and certification program.)

Kilgore noted that he’s currently working with Mathis and Noecker so that they can “drive the ship in the same direction it’s been going. We don’t want it to change, just grow.”

Although Kilgore built the cocktail program from the ground up when Taste opened in fall 2009, recipe and menu development have become a collaborative effort, as is visible with the current menu. Kyle Mathis expects future menus to remain the product of “a team effort,” and reassured balance and great taste in all drinks. “Everyone knows Ted’s rules of mixology,” he said of the Taste bartending team.

Kilgore’s departure isn’t the only news on the beverage side for Craft Restaurants. Craft has hired Michael David Murphy as beverage director for all of his restaurants. “We’re developing a cocktail trending strategy to take the Taste mentality to Niche, Brasserie and Pastaria as well,” Craft explained. “With a formalized training process in place, we can continue to develop the cocktail and overall beverage programs for all of our restaurants.” Murphy, a certified sommelier who is currently studying for the Advanced Sommelier exam, has worked as GM at both Niche and Brasserie and managed the wine lists at both locations. He also spent time in Kansas City working for a wine distributor, during which time he served as president of the Kansas City chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild. “We’re trying to look at the group of restaurants and offer the same type of quality in beverages as the food,” explained Murphy. “To do that, you have to train and educate your staff.” Murphy is currently beverage director at Remy’s Kitchen and Wine Bar in Clayton and will officially take up his new post on January 1.

As for The Planter’s House, there’s still much to decide about this bar named after a famous turn-of-the-century St. Louis hotel. “I don’t want to pigeonhole anything,” responded Kilgore when asked about the design for the space – it will include the first floor and a large outdoor patio – and whether food will factor into the equation. Will his bartender wife Jamie Kilgore, who appears on this month’s cover of Sauce, spend time behind the stick at The Planter’s House? Another unknown. One thing Kilgore is certain about: “It’s going to be a great bar.”

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