Benton Park Cafe is reopening in south St. Louis this winter under new ownership
Co-owners Gavin Haslett and Elicia Eskew acquired Benton Park Cafe from its former owner Jessica Anderson in October after she had closed it for kitchen renovations in April and never reopened. Haslett and Eskew will restore Benton Park Cafe to its original concept with hopes to open in January. They learned about the opportunity from Kristen France, former bar manager at Crafted, who is now their business partner.
“We came into this with the idea that we both loved Benton Park Cafe previously,” Haslett said. “We were both visitors and loved what was already done, so why mess with success?”
The food menu will be streamlined a bit while including more options for add-ons and dietary accommodations for vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free diners. Popular food items such as eggs, omelets, eggs Benedict, slingers, biscuits and gravy, pizzas and salads will remain. A former Benton Park Cafe cook created a pulled pork sandwich for the lunch menu.
“We’re looking for good food,” Eskew said. “We have no intention of winning a James Beard Award – love the restaurants that do – but that is not our focus. We want to provide good food, good times, good company and a good space.”
The Benton Park Mocha will be returning upon the reopening along with drip coffee and espresso drinks. Caffeinated and herbal teas will also be offered. Once a liquor license is acquired, the owners plan to offer a full bar with cocktails, mocktails and bottles and cans of beer, both imported and domestic, with an emphasis on St. Louis breweries, though specific are to-be-determined. The bloody mary will be a signature house blend made fresh for brunch. There are plans to expand and upgrade the wine-by-the-glass list with red, white, sparkling and rosé options.
The atmosphere, according to Eskew, will have a “French Quarter New Orleans vibe,” mixed with a cozy and friendly Midwest sensibility. Inside, a photo of one of the late owners, John Caton, will remain on the wall. There are plans to open the patio in 2023 where Eskew hopes to install a garden and fountain. The 1,600-square-foot interior will seat 54 with an additional 400-square-foot room that could be available for private events by 2024. The 1,300-square-foot patio will seat 35.
Guests will be able to pre-order breakfast and lunch online, and delivery will be offered through third-party apps. Benton Park Cafe will be open for breakfast and lunch and could potentially expand to evening service in the spring. Anticipated hours of operation will be 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Monday; it will be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
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