UKraft will open second location in downtown St. Louis in December
UKraft, a sandwich, wrap, salad and soup spot, is opening a second location with an expanded menu at 701 Market St. this December. The concept started out as a food truck in 2018 and opened a cafe in the Regions Center building in downtown Clayton in July 2019. Co-owners and brothers Matt and Mike Ratz have signed a five-year lease on the first floor of the Peabody Plaza downtown.
The new cafe will offer dine-in service (there’s also a small patio for warm days) if restrictions allow when they open, but it will largely concentrate on contactless pickup and delivery as far south as Soulard and as far west as the Central West End. “We are really going to try to expand our market,” said Matt Ratz. “The business crowd downtown will come back, we just don’t know when. The second people get back to work in their buildings, the traffic in the cafe will be there.” Right now, it is just a waiting game.
The UKraft concept allows customers to choose what ingredients they want in their meal. “I thought there was a void in the fast-casual healthy sector,” Matt Ratz said. The food truck and both the cafes have a number of flavor profiles to choose from which can be served as a wrap, a salad, or over a quinoa and wild rice grain bowl. Each one is served with house-made dressings. The new cafe will expand the menu to add additional sandwiches and smoothies.
UKraft found a way to give back to the community when the shutdown was still in place through its Family Meal and Essentials outreach. “We took donations and hooked people up with the meals they needed,” said Ratz. The program provided microwavable meal kits to people adversely affected by the pandemic.
Despite the pandemic, UKraft has managed grow its catering business. Since it’s questionable how sanitary buffet-style catering can be, many people turned to open-air food trucks for their events. “We are doing a lot of weddings and neighborhood parties,” said Ratz. “We do the kind of fresh, made-to-order catering a food truck can provide.”
The catering gigs not requesting a food truck have also gone well with prepackaged meals, which have been popular at hospitals and doctors’ offices. Ratz stressed that it’s more important than ever to eat healthy. “I think the data and research showed that with Covid, a healthier balanced diet is going to go a long way for your immune system and overall wellbeing,” Matt Ratz said.
Currently, catering is run out of the Clayton location, but some of that production will move to the larger Market Street kitchen when it is open.
“We are excited to get down there,” said Ratz. “The food truck really slows down in the winter, so, operationally, it will work for us.”
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