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Mar 24, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Tom Schmidt’

First Look: Salt & Smoke in St. Louis Hills

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017



The second location of Salt & Smoke debuted at 5625 Hampton Ave., on Sunday, Oct. 29, bringing the Delmar Loop restaurant’s famous barbecue to St. Louis Hills.

As The Scoop reported in January, owner Tom Schmidt bought/leased the building, which has a long culinary history. At one time it was home to Del Pietro’s and, most recently, it housed Mathew’s Kitchen. However, the building bears little resemblance to its former incarnations.

Gone are the drop ceilings and low lighting, replaced by tall ceilings with exposed ductwork, bright colors and new windows for an open, airy feel. Schmidt moved the bar to the center of the first floor and replaced the stairway to the second floor for a more open floor plan. The main dining and bar areas seat 120, and there are two private event spaces available on the second floor.

Outside, wood fences shield the parking lot from traffic-heavy Hampton Avenue and serve as a backdrop for the front patio, which will seat approximately 40 when the weather permits. A mural of a cow, a pig and a chicken vying for a bottle of booze on the side of the brick exterior brings a splash of color and some whimsy to the neighborhood.

Below the mural are the restaurant’s two smokers, which are constantly stoked to keep up with demand for the restaurant’s meaty wares. One is an original smoker from Salt & Smoke’s Delmar location, while the other is a new custom rig that can hold a ton of meat at one time.

The menu mirrors that of the original restaurant, including favorites like barbecue ribs and the fried bologna sandwich, so fans can get their go-to’s no matter which location they frequent.

Schmidt said so far, the neighborhood has embraced Salt & Smoke as its own. He said on opening day, there was a line down the block waiting for the doors to open.

“I’ve opened four restaurants, and that’s the first time I’ve had that happen,” he said. “Honestly, I got a little choked up.”

Salt & Smoke is open daily at 11 a.m. The kitchen closes at 10 p.m., though the bar remains open later for those who want to drop in for a nightcap. Here’s a first look at Salt & Smoke’s second home:


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Photos by Michelle Volanksy 

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Salt & Smoke to open second location in Southampton

• Review: Salt & Smoke

• Mathew’s Kitchen in Southampton to close




Extra Sauce: In case you missed it…

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

From new locations of popular barbecue joints and brunch spots to the closing of a 40-year-old Fairview Heights institution, here’s what happened last weekend in the St. Louis dining scene, ICYMI…




1. Scott Sandler, owner of Pizzeoli in Soulard, has announced he will open a new restaurant called Pizza Head at 3196 S. Grand Ave., in the former Absolutli Goosed and Brickyard Tavern space.

2. Pastry chef Alex Feick is bringing her baking game to area restaurants and retailers. Prioritized Pastries aims to supply area restaurants, stores and individuals with quality artisan breads, pastries and desserts.




3. Mike and Liz Randolph, co-owners of Randolph Restaurants,  have announced a second location of Half & Half in Webster Groves. The breakfast and lunch spot will open in late spring or early summer at 220 W. Lockwood Ave., in the current First Watch space.

4. The Tom & Chee location at 1280 Highway K in O’Fallon, Missouri, has closed. The closing was announced on the location’s Facebook page Jan. 9, citing “circumstances beyond our control.”




5. Delmar Loop favorite Salt & Smoke is getting ready to expand its barbecue empire to South St. Louis this summer. Owner Tom Schmidt has announced that he will open a new location of the restaurant at 5625 Hampton Ave., the former home of Mathew’s Kitchen that shuttered last year.

6. Another longstanding Metro East establishment is shutting its doors. Dandy Inn Pub in Fairview Heights is scheduled to close on Sunday, Jan. 15, after 40 years in business.

7. Moya Grill, located at 567 Mehlville Ave. in University City, has been shuttered. The casual Ethiopian eatery from the owners of Meskerem on South Grand closed over the holidays.


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The Scoop: Salt & Smoke to open second location in Southampton

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017



Delmar Loop favorite Salt & Smoke is getting ready to expand its barbecue empire to South St. Louis this summer. As reported by St. Louis Magazine, owner Tom Schmidt has announced that he will open a new location of the restaurant at 5625 Hampton Ave., the former home of Mathew’s Kitchen that shuttered last year.

“I’ve actively been looking for a space for two years,” Schmidt said. “I looked at hundreds of places. But the moment I pulled in the lot, I thought ‘This is it.’”

Schmidt said the new building has a large kitchen, which will facilitate the restaurant’s burgeoning catering business, and the 100-person private event space on the second floor will allow for more private parties, something the smaller University City space wouldn’t accommodate. Schmidt said he hopes for three barbecue pits initially, and that pitmaster Haley Riley will oversee the barbecue and kitchens at both locations. Schmidt credits Riley with much of the success Salt & Smoke has enjoyed, and said he is now a co-owner of both locations.

Schmidt said he bought the building instead of leasing it, which will make it easier to make some of the changes needed. These include a complete gutting of the space and changing the floor plan. Schmidt said he expects “months of intense construction ahead,” but hopes to be open in June. Hunter Construction, which has worked on such spaces as Porano, Sugarfire Smoke House and Seoul Taco, will be the general contractor.

Schmidt said there may be some menu tweaks made at the new space, though nothing he could reveal yet. But fans of the original Delmar Loop location shouldn’t worry about missing their favorite dishes in South City. “I want to make sure it’s recognizable as Salt & Smoke,” he said.

Photo by David Kovaluk 

Related Content

The Scoop: Mathew’s Kitchen in Southampton to close

• Lunch Rush: Salt & Smoke

The Scoop: Franco to close on Feb. 20 

The Scoop: Franco to close on Feb. 20

Monday, February 15th, 2016



After 10 years, Franco is closing its doors in Soulard. Owner Tom Schmidt made the announcement online; its last day of business is Saturday, Feb. 20.

“I feel like restaurants have a lifecycle sometimes,” Schmidt said. “Ten years is a really great run, and we’re proud of it, but it was time to say goodbye.”

In his online message to customers, Schmidt expressed gratitude to the staff, executive chef Jon Dreja and general manager Alex Adank. “Our loyal guests let us into their lives and became true friends,” he wrote. “Sharing our passions with theirs, this restaurant became more than just a place to dine.”

Schmidt, who also owns Salt & Smoke on Delmar Boulevard in University City, reflected on his time in the Soulard neighborhood. “It’s a passionate neighborhood and one of the first to pioneer urban renewal,” he said. “They are a supportive and wonderful neighborhood.

Schmidt said Salt & Smoke will continue to operate according to the current business plan, and he does not plan to open another concept in the Franco space. “It was my baby,” he said. “I opened it when I was 25, so this is very emotional. I couldn’t conceptualize anything else in that space.”


 Editor’s note: This post was updated at 12:15 p.m. on Feb. 15 to include comments from owner Tom Schmidt. 


The Scoop: Nico in The Loop to become Salt + Smoke BBQ

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014



The word of the day is certainly barbecue! In addition to Wild Flower’s plans for Majestic in the Central West End and Dave Bailey’s announcement about a new restaurant downtown, Tom Schmidt also announced that he is changing the concept and name of his restaurant Nico (pictured), located at 6525 Delmar Blvd., in The Loop. Instead of Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, patrons will be able to fill up on, you guessed it, slow-smoked barbecue. The new concept will be called Salt + Smoke BBQ and, while Schmidt has targeted an early summer opening, he stated that the restaurant may open as early as the last week in May.

“This is a great time for this concept to come to The Loop,” said Schmidt regarding the switch from Mediterranean fare to barbecue. “We’ve been smoking and curing meat in-house for years,” he said about the culinary program at his other restaurant, Franco. “Chef is excited to expand that passion into the barbecue world,” he elaborated, adding that while the menu will be barbecue-focused, “sides won’t be an afterthought.”

John Dreja will take on the role of pitmaster for Salt + Smoke. Helming the kitchen will be Haley Riley, who assumed the executive chef position at Nico last week, replacing chef Grace Dinsmoor. Dinsmoor’s last day at Nico was March 31. While she has accepted a position with a different employer, when The Scoop spoke with her, she was not at liberty to disclose such information.

Nico remains open but will close for a brief period in late May or early June so that the interior can be remodeled and the kitchen outfitted to accommodate the new menu.

– photo by Jonathan Gayman

The Scoop: Grace Dinsmoor takes executive chef spot at Nico

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

This past Wednesday, July 11, chef Grace Dinsmoor took on the role of Nico’s new executive chef. A week prior, when Dinsmoor decided to postpone plans for her own restaurant, Tom Schmidt, owner of Nico and Franco, was the first person she called. “I let him know that I was his,” Dinsmoor said. “Whatever he needed me to do, whatever restaurant he wanted me to continue to work in, I would do it.” Ever since Dinsmoor and Schmidt worked together in the early 2000s, the two have remained friends. “Being back together – it’s very exciting,” Dinsmoor said. “To see him come in, it brightens my day and vice versa.

Ever since Dinsmoor resigned as executive chef of Modesto five months ago, she has been working in the kitchens of both Nico and Franco. During the time she spent at Nico, Dinsmoor said she formed a great relationship with former chef Darin Since and realized that she related to Nico’s eclectic western Mediterranean fare. “I have a very strong passion for Spain, so it’s very easy for me to come in here and do some Spanish influence,” explained Dinsmoor, who added that she is looking forward to delivering more to Nico diners than just Spanish food. “I have been studying a lot since I left Modesto,” she said. “It’s been a great five months. I’m fine-tuning my skills, perfecting them and learning different things. I have been working under a lot of great chefs who have classic French training. For 10 years [at Modesto], I was in the Spanish box. I like to be in that box, but this is new and exciting for me because I can broaden and learn more.”

The Scoop: Chris Williams no longer at Franco or Nico

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Chris Williams is no longer the executive chef at Franco or Nico. Williams, who was hired by owner Tom Schmidt for the top position at Franco in January 2011 and also managed exec chef duties at Schmidt’s new restaurant Nico in The Loop, parted ways with the restaurants yesterday in what Williams referred to as an “amicable departure.”

“I loved cooking at Franco a lot,” Williams told The Scoop. “And I will miss the stoves there and working there. But I know they are going to do well. I am going to find someplace that I get to be happy and put my own stamp on the kitchen,” he said.

“We’re happy to have Chris while we did, and he did a great job,” commented Schmidt. “We thank him for everything he did for Franco and Nico. I brought Chris on because I am a big believer in his food – and I still am. Chris is going to go somewhere and be awesome.”

As far as Williams’ plans for the future, he stated that he will “take a look at a lot of different things; maybe figure out how to get my own place. I may end up working for somebody for a while until I can get that up and going if that is the route I choose. I am going to look at all of it; that’s what you do.” Williams noted that he would prefer to stay in St. Louis and is not currently looking to move back to Ecuador, where he lived with his family for a few years prior to returning to his native St. Louis. “We enjoy St. Louis. We think there is great food being done here,” he added.

Taking the helm at Nico is Darrin Since, who Williams brought on as sous chef at Franco and has served in that role at Nico since it opened. Williams called Since a “strong, good leader in the kitchen,” while Schmidt considers him “young, hungry and talented.” Over at Franco, Kris Janik will move from sous chef to executive chef. “He’s constantly in love with food – driving and experimenting,” said Schmidt of Janik. “I’ve been working with him on and off for eight years.”

— Photo by Carmen Troesser

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