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Mar 22, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Tom Halaska’

St. Louis restaurants rally community support for Hurricane Harvey victims

Friday, September 1st, 2017



In wake of the recent tragedy in Texas, St. Louis restaurateurs and customers alike have banded together to send aid to the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Demun Oyster Bar’s Tom Halaska, Byrd & Barrel’s Bob Brazell, Ices Plain & Fancy’s Max Crask and state Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. organized the Babies & Fur-Babies Hurricane Supply Drive.

Halaska said dozens of St. Louis-area restaurants and bars have already volunteered to serve as supply drop-off points, including Guerrilla Street Food, Nudo House and 4 Hands Brewing Co. The drive has also partnered with Project Downtown STL, RukaNade and the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis. (A full list of drop-off locations can be found online.)

“It’s impressive that through the restaurant and bar community in St. Louis, you send a couple messages and make some calls and get this response,” Halaska said. “We’ve had a bunch of community support.”

Halaska and others will drive supplies down to Houston at the end of next week, so donors are asked to drop off all donations by Sept. 10, and to please stick to the list of suggested items for donations. Organizers are requesting supplies like diapers, cat and dog food, kitty litter, feminine hygiene products and baby bottles, with a full list of needed supplies available online.  People can also purchase products directly off an Amazon wish list and send them to Demun Oyster Bar.

“We’re trying to keep it condensed to a small amount of items,” Halaska said. “One thing we don’t want is to show up down there, and they won’t know what to do with everything. And we need everything new, nothing used.”

Additional restaurants interested in becoming drop-off locations can contact the organizers via the Facebook page. Halaska encouraged the community to give generously. “Even if we fill up three semi trucks, we still won’t have enough,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Nudo House 

Rachel Wilson is an editorial intern at Sauce Magazine. 

The Scoop: Local restaurants participate, support A Day Without Immigrants protest

Thursday, February 16th, 2017


{ from left, Nixta executive chef Tello Carreón and owner Ben Poremba } 


Across the country today, Feb. 16, people stayed home from work and school or did not shop or eat out in support of A Day Without Immigrants, a protest against current U.S. immigration policy. Participants meant to illustrate the importance of immigrants in American society.

Chefs around the country donated a portion of their revenues to support immigration organizations or closed their eateries entirely, like José Andrés in Washington D.C. and Rick Bayless in Chicago. Locally, a handful of area restaurants did the same.

Chef and restaurateur Ben Poremba decided to close Nixta, his new Mexican eatery, as reported by the Riverfront Times. Poremba said many of his staff had expressed a desire to take the day off to participate.

“I’m not trying to be a pioneer,” he said. “I just respected that some of the guys wanted a day to be heard without worrying about losing their job or having some consequences. I didn’t want to be on the fence.”

Cherokee Station Special Business District liaison Anne McCullough said most of the immigrant-owned businesses on Cherokee closed today. “More than 20 percent of the businesses and properties on Cherokee Street are immigrant-owned,” she said.



{ Local Chef Kitchen chef-owner Rob Uyemura } 


Local Chef Kitchen chef-owner Rob Uyemura also shut the doors at his Ballwin Restaurant for the day. “In 25 years in the restaurant business, I’ve worked with a lot of immigrants,” said Uyemura, whose family immigrated to the U.S. “They get labeled as criminals and illegals, and that’s wrong.”

Other restaurants remain open, but are donating a portion of their proceeds to nonprofits. Demun Oyster Bar general manager Tom Halaska said his bar, as well as sister restaurants Sasha’s Wine Bars and Scarlett’s Wine Bar, will donate 50 percent of the day’s proceeds to the International Institute St. Louis.

Halaska said it was important to recognize the many immigrants who participate in the restaurant industry and in society. With immigration policy currently in the national spotlight, he said this was a good opportunity to celebrate immigrants.

“This is a way for us as a restaurant group to show respect and compassion for what’s going on in the country,” Halaska said.


Catherine Klene contributed to this report.

Nixta photo by Carmen Troesser


Extra Sauce: 8 places to celebrate your vote

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016




Celebrate your presence at the polls and the end of this explosive campaign season today with treats across St. Louis. Perform your civic duty, slap on your “I Voted” sticker and head to these eight spots with Election Day specials.


1. Baileys’ Restaurants
All Dave Bailey’s restaurants (Baileys’ Range, Rooster, Baileys’ Chocolate Bar, Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar, Shift, Test Kitchen & Take Out and Small Batch) will knock 10 percent off your order.
Baileys’ Restaurants, baileysrestaurants.com

2. Clementine’s Creamery
Scoops up this Election Day at Clementine’s Creamery. Buy any ice cream cone or cup and get another scoop free.
11 a.m., 1637 S. 18th St., St. Louis, 314.858.6100, clementinescreamery.com

3. Cathy’s Kitchen Restaurant and Diner
From dishes inspired by regions across the country, Cathy’s Kitchen’s menu is as diverse as our national opinion. Swing in for 5 percent off your order.
11 a.m. to 6 p.m., 250 S. Florissant Road, Ferguson, 314.524.9200, Facebook: Cathy’s Kitchen

4. Alton Craft Beer Week
Cheers to the end of the election at The Old Bakery Beer Co. Voters get $3 craft beer pours courtesy of Alton Craft Beer.
11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., 400 Landmarks Blvd., Alton, 618.463.1470, Facebook: Election Day Special

5. Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions
Dig into a sandwich filled with meaty goodness and get 10 percent off when you grab lunch today at Bolyard’s.
11 a.m., Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions, 2810 Sutton Blvd., Maplewood, 314.647.2567, bolyardsmeat.com

6. Propaganda
Raise a glass in victory (or dismay) as the returns roll in. Propaganda on Cherokee Street offers a free mystery beer or vodka shot while the TV streams the results.
4 p.m. to midnight, 2732 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.769.9696, propagandastl.com

7. Pint Size Bakery & Coffee
Finish this bitter election with something sweet when you get your free mini rainbow sprinkle cookie from Pint Size Bakery.
7 a.m. to 4 p.m., 3133 Watson Road, St. Louis, 314.645.7142, pintsizebakery.com

8. The Monocle
Tom Halaska’s famous Grilled Bologna & Cheese is back. Enjoy your free sammie and a PBR or Stag and watch the election results on the big screen at The Monocle. You don’t have to have an “I Voted” sticker to participate, but don’t be a mooch – get out and vote!
11 a.m., 4510 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.932.7003, Facebook: The Monocle


Liz Bruchhauser and Olivia Dansky contributed to this report.

The Scoop: Dan Sammons takes over as Demun Oyster Bar exec chef

Monday, July 25th, 2016



A new tide has rolled in at Demun Oyster Bar. Fifteen-year kitchen veteran Dan Sammons began his tenure as executive chef today, July 25. Sammons fills the spot left behind after chef Ben Edison exited the kitchen earlier this year. Sammons brings a range of experience from corporate operations chef at McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood to working the kitchens at Berkeley, California’s eatery, Revival Bar & Kitchen.

“I fell in love with farm-to-table dining at Revival,” said Sammons. “The farmers brought the deliveries every day. We had to eighty-six menu items when we ran out of ingredients.”

For the past year and a half, Sammons has been working at LHM hotel properties, most recently serving a seven-month stint as the executive chef at Three Sixty. Both Sammons and Demun Oyster Bar general manager Tom Halaska said they are eager to work together to bring more local ingredients to the menu.

“In our initial interview, I asked him which farmers he knew and he said, ‘Which kind of farmer?’ That lead to a 45-minute conversation about who we knew and what they were doing,” said Halaska. “We have the same passion for food and drink.”

Diners can expect that passion to translate to changes on both the food and beverage menus. Halaska aims to create cocktails that complement the restaurant’s well-known oyster program and food menu, rather than a set list of standalone cocktails. “We want the food and beverage programs to work together in a unified way,” he said.

Sammons, who grew up on Southern cooking and summertime produce from his grandfather’s garden, plans to add and tweak menu items to reflect his experience. “There will be a salmon dish on the menu,” he said. “It will be like a salmon summer succotash with fresh vegetables.”


Extra Sauce: In case you missed it…

Friday, April 29th, 2016

From new restaurants in Benton Park and Crestwood to new bars downtown and on Cherokee Street, here’s what when down in the St. Louis food scene, in case you missed it.





1. A taste of Alsace, France is coming to the corner of Lemp Avenue and Lynch Street later this year when Hommage opens its doors. Owner D.J. Huchzermeier – most recently the general manager of The Purple Martin – plans to open the eatery at 2800 Lemp Ave., in Benton Park as a tribute to the historical significance of St. Louis.

2. Fun and games are coming to downtown as arcade bar Start Bar is slated to open in June at 1000 Spruce St.




3. Pint Size Bakery has moved up the street to 3133 Watson Road in Lindenwood Park. The new, 1,800-square foot location opened for business Tuesday, April 26.

4. Just three weeks after Art Bar on Cherokee Street closed its doors, Tom Halaska has announced he will be the general manager at DeMun Oyster Bar effective April 25.




5. A taste of Mother Russia is coming to Cherokee Street when owner Tatyana Telnikova opens Propaganda in the former ArtBar St. Louis space at 2723 Cherokee St.

6. Rise and shine, Crestwood. Elevated breakfast is coming to the corner of Watson and Grant roads. Yolklore will open at 8958 Watson Road this summer.

The Scoop: Tom Halaska dives in at DeMun Oyster Bar

Monday, April 25th, 2016



Just three weeks after Art Bar on Cherokee Street closed its doors, Tom Halaska has announced he will be the general manager at DeMun Oyster Bar effective today, April 25. Halaska previously spent six years as the general manager of Sasha’s on Shaw and said he is pleased to return to working with owners Alan Richman and Rachel Jones.

“It’s great to be going back with a company that supported me and was a part of my life for a long time,” Halaska said.

For his part, Halaska aims to pair fun with oysters. “That’s what I bring to the table,” he said. “The oyster bar is a beautiful, elegant, classy joint. I’m going sprinkle in a little dirt.” That “dirt” will include live music, brass bands and maybe a crawfish boil and oyster happy hour. “We’ll still serve delicious, elegant food and oysters flown in from the coasts and picked up at the airport every day. It’s one of the most beautiful restaurants in St. Louis, and it’s fun to be able to put my mark on that.”

Also coming aboard at DeMun Oyster Bar is Rachel Kornhardt, who served alongside Halaska at Art Bar and will be the bar manager, and Halaska’s nephew, Nik Halaska. Nik also works at The Libertine in the restaurant and with its CSA. At DeMun, he’ll be the “utility man,” doing whatever needs to be done.

Look for a more customizable bar program with cocktails tailored to individual taste profiles and created on the spot, instead of customers choosing strictly off the menu. Those cocktails will likely feature new house-made syrups, bitters and liqueurs.


Editor’s note: This post was corrected at 12:45 p.m. April 25 to accurately spell Rachel Kornhardt’s name. 

The Scoop: ArtBar Saint Louis to close at end of March

Thursday, March 10th, 2016



It’s a gloomy day for Cherokee Street watering hole ArtBar Saint Louis. Owner Tom Halaska announced on his personal Facebook page today, March 10, that the 2-year-old establishment would shutter on March 31.

“We weren’t able to sustain the business,” Halaska said. “We had enormous support from the community, brought in new people and had beautiful regulars.”

ArtBar opened doors at 2732 Cherokee St., in April 2014. Sauce reviewed the art-focused bar in April 2015.

Halaska said he is grateful to those who supported ArtBar and will keep the festive atmosphere alive until the end of the month. “We will party until we turn the lights off,” he said. “I want to thank the community for all their support. I’m proud of all we’ve been able to accomplish in our two years.”


-photo by Michelle Volansky 

First Look: Art Bar St. Louis

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Doors recently opened at Art Bar St. Louis on April 25, revealing a creative, colorful space brimming with local artistic touches at 2732 Cherokee St. Co-owners Tom Halaska and Tatyana Telnikova told The Scoop in January they wanted to create a bar that embraced all kinds of art – visual, performance, musical and more. Already, local artists cover the walls with two large murals and about a dozen paintings for sale.

A 54-foot-long bar dominates the space, offering seats for 20 to 25 patrons. Halaska said Art Bar St. Louis currently does not have a drink list, as he wants the customers’ orders and the bartenders’ creativity to determine the menu. However, this doesn’t mean options are limited. The bar is well stocked with a growing selection of 15 wines by the glass, five local draft beers, several bottled brews, and plenty of spirits to go around. The Art Bar crew is also creating its own house simple syrups, like Serrano mint, lavender and beet.

Those feeling peckish can select from a daily menu of charcuterie, cheese and house-made pickles to create a board of their choice. Or order up a paper cone of freshly popped popcorn seasoned with the flavor of the day, from orange chipotle to tequila lime. Art Bar St. Louis will soon serve up their own pierogis, prepped at HandleBar (Telikova’s other restaurant), and Halaska said there are plans to build a kitchen and eventually serve a full menu.

Hours are Monday to Saturday from 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Here, a look at what to expect at Art Bar St. Louis:


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-photos by Michelle Volansky

The Scoop: Craft Art Bar to open on Cherokee Street

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014


{Craft Art Bar owners Tom Halaska (left) and Tatyana Telnikova (right) stand with interior designer and builder Jamie Jessop(center).}


On the heels of the news that Yaqui’s will soon open on Cherokee Street comes word of its new neighbor. Craft Art Bar will be located just feet away at 2732 Cherokee St., and is set to open in early March.

Craft Art Bar is a project by Tom Halaska and Tatyana Telnikova. Halaska and Telnikova are both figures in the local bar scene. He is the general manager at Sasha’s on Shaw; she owns HandleBar in The Grove.  They plan to make Craft Art Bar a bar that embraces art of all kinds – from the local art featured on the walls to live performances to art magazines and board games. “Come in, be inspired, bring your sketchbook – whatever your craft is,” Halaska said. “There won’t be TVs with sports on, but we will have things here to occupy your time.”



{The owners hope to replace the front windows with stained glass.}

Craft Art Bar won’t just settle your fix for art – it will quench your thirst and fill your belly. On the beverage side, five taps will be dedicated to local brews. Look for cocktails that are classic in style, but with a modern twist. “Every bottle behind the bar will have a purpose,” Halaska said. The wine list will be small “but damn good,” he added. “What it lacks in quantity, it makes up in substance.”

The food menu will feature small bites: flatbreads, local meats, cheese, breads and spreads. The owners hope to source some products from Hot Skillet Farms, an urban farm collective on Cherokee Street. “It’s a lot of ‘Here’s what we’re cooking today,’” Halaska said. Craft Art Bar will not have a separate kitchen; instead they will use an induction stovetop and convection oven behind the bar. Halaska noted that they intend to invite area chefs to periodically guest cook at Craft Art Bar using this minimalist equipment.



{The 1,700-square-foot space is being transformed into a bar that embraces art of all kinds.}

When construction by Jamie Jessop of building interiors firm Jessop Design Co. is complete, the narrow, 1,700-square-foot space will have a lounge area, a 30-seat dining area and a 20-seat bar – all of it with an artsy feel. Design elements will include stained glass panels in the front windows, a decoupage finish on the a 24-foot bar top, and lots of curves: the wavy shape of the bar, the arched shelving behind it, and the restored shape of the space’s original ceiling.

“We’re excited to be part of this neighborhood,” Telnikova said. “We’re surrounded by talented, forward-thinking ambitious people. There’s a large amount of camaraderie. There’s a reason why we’re on this street.”

-photos by Michelle Volansky

Editor’s Note: This post originally stated that Jamie Jessop was also a co-owner. The post has been updated to reflect the correct information.




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