Sugarfire Smoke House and Hi-Pointe Drive-In collaborate on SugarHi, a new ghost kitchen

The team behind Sugarfire Smoke House and Hi-Pointe Drive-In have been on a roll this year; no, that’s not a sandwich pun, though they did open Chicken Out, a fried chicken sandwich joint, in the Delmar Loop in June. In any case, fans of their food will have a bunch of new menus to get excited about as SugarHi Ghost Kitchen goes live today, Thursday, Sept. 17. 

It’s an idea the team has been kicking around for a while and a way to keep things fresh in an increasingly changing dining culture. “We’ve really been working on it since, honestly, February or January,” said co-owner Mike Johnson.

Operating out of the downtown St. Louis Hi-Pointe location at 634 Washington Ave., SugarHi Ghost Kitchen will host a rotating series of pop-ups available for delivery only. The first is KC Bones, a Kansas City-style barbecue concept. Only live for the next few weeks, KC Bones offers an assortment of freshly made dishes. 

“It’s chicken wings and ribs, and that’s it,” Johnson said. “But the ribs are different.” He explained that while he typically serves Memphis-style ribs at his restaurants – baby back ribs with a sweet sauce – the new ’cue is Kansas City-style: spare ribs with smoke and tang, and much less sweetness. Fries and onion rings round out the menu. 

Going forward, the kitchen will serve as a laboratory to work through new ideas and showcase talented employees and the cuisine they like to make. “The next one is going to be called Flaming Fabian’s,” Johnson said, elaborating that a longtime employee – the eponymous Fabian Sosa – will take the reins. “The food’s from Mexico City, the king of al pastor and birria tacos. His mom actually makes these red and blue tortillas. It’s ridiculous, what he does,” Johnson said. 

With the addition of this ghost kitchen, Johnson said it was the perfect time to see what Sosa could really do and to give him a shot at developing his skills so he can eventually strike out on his own. “The idea is to help him move into a brick-and-mortar. We want to help him fly,” Johnson said. 

According to Johnson, the concept offers delivery only via DoorDash and has the same hours as Hi-Pointe Drive-In: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.