santa fe bistro photo by michelle volansky

Oceano Bistro owner is opening Santa Fe Bistro in Creve Coeur in mid-July

Amer Abouwardah, owner of Oceano Bistro in Clayton, is opening a new restaurant, Santa Fe Bistro, at 12316 Olive Blvd. in Creve Coeur. The Southwestern-inspired concept is slated to open in the former home of EdgeWild Bistro & Tap in mid-July, as reported by St. Louis Magazine.

The concept came to Abouwardah after looking around at the other restaurants in the area. “If you look at their menu, [other restaurants] are very similar. They’re serving the same thing, but in a different style, in different ways, and I'm trying to get away from that. I'm trying to have my own concept, not just follow everybody in different ways,” he said. 

The Southwestern-inspired menu is still in development but will be updated frequently to feature seasonal produce, which Abouwardah hopes to procure from local farmers. Items on offer will include pizzas with Spanish flair, Mexican-inspired seafood dishes and nutrition-forward bowls served with brown rice, fresh vegetables and a Southwestern-style protein. Another item that may be featured is lightly seared grouper with asparagus, basmati rice, heirloom tomato with harissa.

The full bar will offer about 10 to 15 specialty cocktails with a bit of Latin flair, such as a jalapeño vodka martini. Guests can also be on the lookout for a wide variety of specialty tequilas. In addition, there will be about five wines and six or seven beer options.

The building he thought would be a “turnkey restaurant” proved to be a more complex task that needed to be gutted and stocked with new equipment and furniture. The open-concept kitchen allows guests to take a look inside and occupies most of the 6,800 square feet. The dining room will seat 150, and will feature custom chairs and a sleek, granite-topped bar. The look for the inside has “sort of log cabin vibes,” according to Abouwardah – a design converted from the previous establishment.

Landscaping for the patio will emulate the look of a “flowery botanical garden,” he said. Trees will be planted to provide shade and make the patio quieter. There will be seating for close to 30 at its marble-topped tables. Live music will be provided on the patio in the coming weeks.

Abouwardah expects he restaurant to be “high energy,” which will match his creative outlook on the concept. “People have to be creative,” he says. “You have to be different. You have to make people excited about going to [your restaurant].”

Abouwardah is hoping to open the doors on Monday, July 11, but he is still waiting on some chairs to be delivered. “The kitchen is ready. We can cook for 1,000 people tomorrow, but nobody can sit down because we don’t have chairs,” he said with a laugh.

Santa Fe Bistro will open at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday. Brunch will be offered on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closing times will be dependent on when the last guests leave, but the restaurant is licensed to stay open till 1:30 a.m. Curbside pickup will be available, and delivery should be offered in the next few weeks.