First Look: The Pitch Athletic Club & Tavern at St. Louis Union Station in Downtown West
St. Louis’ new soccer pub, The Pitch Athletic Club & Tavern, opened on Monday, Feb. 27, at St. Louis Union Station at 1820 Market St. The Pitch is just a few yards from St. Louis City SC’s CityPark stadium and arrives just in time for the new MLS club’s first home game on March 4.
The Pitch is the latest project from Lodging Hospitality Management, which owns and operates a portfolio of hotels and restaurants including The Cheshire, Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark and Westport Plaza, in addition to the various tourism and hospitality destinations at Union Station.
In Union Station’s days as a rail hub, the space now occupied by The Pitch was used for baggage handling. Over time, it was used for various functions, eventually evolving into a restaurant space. The most recent tenant, Mexican restaurant Senor Julio, closed over a decade ago.
LHM has done an impressive job of converting the 9,000 square feet into a matchday home for soccer fans on St. Louis City SC matchdays, a hangout for watching soccer from around the world, Blues and Cardinals games, or any other televised sport – or simply just stopping by for lunch or dinner. Lawrence Group brought the design to life in collaboration with LHM’s Vice President of Construction Design Chad Smith and Director of Restaurants Blaise Pastoret.
Pastoret said the key design choice was to aim for a traditional, “lived-in” feel rather than an aggressively modern vibe. “We went the Old World route and then we started picking fabrics and samples, what the walls look like and drop-down ceilings,” he said. The space’s floor-to-ceiling pillars contribute to that feel, as do the prevalence of bottle green finishes, wood surfaces and plaid carpets. “We didn’t want to get too fancy, we just wanted comfortable lounge furniture,” Pastoret said.
There are booths to seat larger parties and banquette seating along one edge of the central dining space, or customers can also pull up a stool at the bar. The Pitch has a total of 16 large screens: four 110-inch screens above the bar, three 70-inch screens on the patio, and each of the nine lounge spaces around the perimeter of the room is fitted with a 65-inch screen. Those lounge spaces allow groups of friends to gather around the screen, sink into leather armchairs and sofas and choose whatever game they want to watch using a touchscreen to choose the appropriate channel. “It’s right there at your fingertips,” Pastoret said. The lounges are available on a first-come, first-served basis with no reservations, so if you want to grab a screen to yourself, show up early.
The menu features a number of sandwiches that use deli meat from New York’s Carnegie Deli: A pastrami, corned beef, and the open-faced Reuben, served with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, pickle and Russian dressing on toasted rye. Other sandwiches on the menu include a pot roast dip, Italian, Philly cheesesteak, fried bologna and a black bean burger. “I initially just wanted to do sandwiches when we first started the concept, so it's leaning heavily on sandwiches,” Pastoret said. However, The Pitch also offers hearty entrees like a chicken pot pie (ideal for sharing) and fish and chips, several soups and salads, and appetizers like the jumbo Bavarian pretzel with a potent housemade mustard, loaded smashed potatoes, chicken wings (buffalo or lemon-garlic) and lobster Rangoon. Carnegie’s Deli pops up again on the dessert menu, which features black and white cookies or cheesecake.
The drink list offers 10 draft beers, with 30 more canned and bottled brews also available. Wellbeing’s Match Day Light is a nonalcoholic option that fits the soccer theme. For non-beer drinkers there are wines and spirits aplenty, but the signature Irish coffee is certain to be a hit, served either frozen (with brandy rather than whiskey) or hot.
For now, The Pitch is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Sunday. However, Pastoret said he aims to launch breakfast service in “about a month or so,” which will allow The Pitch to open as early as 6:30 a.m. on weekend mornings to show soccer matches from European leagues. “We’ll do a blood sausage Slinger, probably a pastrami, corned beef hash, parfait, pancakes, biscuits and gravy – something in that vein,” he said.