the shaved duck in tower grove east photo by zachary linhares

The Shaved Duck in South City has reopened after year-long closure

A bit over a year ago, catastrophe struck one of St. Louis' most loved barbecue restaurants. Since opening in 2008, the Shaved Duck at 2900 Virginia Ave. had been a favorite of both its Tower Grove East neighbors and food writers across the U.S. Guy Fieri even named it Missouri's best barbecue. But the terrible cold snap that gripped St. Louis around Christmas of 2022 caused a pipe in its building to burst. A restaurant manager walked in to find not only a flood but a collapsed ceiling from all the water damage. And so it was curtains for the Shaved Duck — until now. 

Recently, word began to spread among neighbors and barbecue lovers: The Shaved Duck is back. And for once, the rumors are true — the restaurant quietly opened its doors in November, with new owners and a fresh look.


the shaved duck in tower grove east // photo by zachary linhares


Two of the three owners come from another successful spot in town. James Heredia and Joshua Powlishta are co-owners of BLT's (an acronym for Breakfast, Lunch and Tacos) in downtown St. Louis. The third member of their trio, Adam Kaufman, had previously worked with Heredia, and Heredia was a manager at the Shaved Duck for six years prior to its closure.

It's one reason Heredia jumped when the restaurant's longtime owner, Ally Nisbet (also known for the Scottish Arms) was ready to sell. "Ally is a good friend of mine," he says. "Sometimes in the restaurant business, you've just got to move on." 

He adds, "He wouldn't have done it unless somebody knew somebody who was willing to take over but would keep it the same. He knew I'd be that person. I want to focus on making the food exactly what it was — and exactly what it needs to be." 

That's one reason, Heredia explains, that the restaurant kept its soft opening so damn soft. After nearly a year of being totally closed, with a largely new staff to train, the owners wanted to get everything up to par before diners beyond the eatery's superfan base stopped by for a meal. He finally thinks they're there.


the new owners of the shaved duck, from left: adam kaufman, joshua powlishta and james heredia // photo by zachary linhares


There is one small hiccup, though, and that is the city's onerous process for new liquor licenses. They still don't have one, despite hiring someone to shepherd them through the various hurdles laid down by city ordinance. Heredia is hopeful it will be just a few more months at the most. And in the meantime, he hopes people will support their efforts by ordering takeout or delivery if they really want a drink with their barbecue.

He says, "We tried to go BYOB for now, but you have to go through all the same stops as your regular liquor license, so this will just be one of those things that'll keep us pushing our food for now. It's a little wrench, but not a big wrench."

This story was originally published by the Riverfront Times.