bud's pizza & beer in northampton photo by michelle volansky

First Look: Bud’s Pizza & Beer in the Northampton neighborhood of St. Louis

Bud’s Pizza & Beer, the new pizza restaurant and bar from the team behind The Golden Hoosier, will open on June 12 at 3805 S. Kingshighway Blvd. in Northampton. For co-owners Ivan and Berto Garcia, also of real estate agency Garcia Properties, Bud’s is the next frontier in revitalizing the neighborhood they’re calling the Crown District, a strip of South Kingshighway Boulevard around the intersection with Chippewa Street. 

The 1,500-square-foot dining room and bar seats around 85 guests, with a note-perfect design that deftly walks the line between an old-school South City tavern and a sleek, classic cocktail lounge. The restaurant was designed by the Garcia brothers and built out by their construction firm, Garcia Construction. Key features include bar stools and booths fitted with red leather upholstery that Ivan Garcia said intentionally recalls the golden age of the American automobile. The booths were made locally by Vitro Seating Products, founded in St. Louis in 1929. Sheets of red curtain hang from the ceiling above seated areas, helping to provide soundproofing and sectioning off the space. The reds pair well with forest green walls and wooden finishes to give the place a classy feel. 

The large Budweiser sign at the entrance is from the old Southtown Pub (where The Golden Hoosier now sits), while inside, there are neon Budweiser signs that call back to the brewery’s place in St. Louis history. However, the “Bud” of Bud’s Pizza is not the beer, but Berto Garcia’s father-in-law, Walter “Bud” Winzen, whose portrait takes pride of place above the bar. 

Ivan Garcia said the original idea for the space was to open a “little bar, no kitchen, something really simple,” but the concept gradually snowballed, first into a kitchen serving simple food, then a pizza window before they arrived at the idea of a full-service pizza restaurant and bar. Garcia gives credit for that evolution partly to Bud’s general manager Jimmy Menousek, who is also the operations manager at The Golden Hoosier.

“We figured that we have customers that are used to The Golden Hoosier, so we have a good base of people in the neighborhood that we know appreciate this type of service and this type of quality, so instead of reinventing the wheel, just do it in a pizza format,” Garcia said. Manousek said the intention is to provide an option for the neighborhood that complements The Golden Hoosier. “They’re totally separate,” he said. “Same culture, but very different properties.” 

In the kitchen, chef Eli Newman is the mastermind behind the pizza at Bud’s. Newman uses three different flours to create a crust that he said is a mix of Neapolitan and New York-style pizza, but he’s reluctant to use labels. “We don’t want to be someone else’s pizza, we just want to be Bud’s pizza,” Newman said. “We didn’t try to copy this or copy that or stay in a box, we tried to create something that we liked.” 

The menu will offer a build-your-own option, and Manousek said Bud’s will offer cheese pizza and pepperoni pizza by the slice in addition to whole pies. A handful of signature pizzas will be available, including a mushroom pizza. “We’re doing a white pie with roasted mushrooms with ricotta and chimichurri,” Newman said. “Approved by people who hate mushrooms,” Garcia chimed in. The pepperoni pizza is topped with cup and char pepperoni to give the pizza maximum flavor. “I just want to make good pizza for good people, and we’ve got a neighborhood full of good people,” Newman added. Customers will also be able to order takeout pizza and pick up their pies via a separate entrance next door to the main entrance at Bud’s. 

Manousek said that he’s proud of The Golden Hoosier’s prowess in offering good gluten-free options, and the team wanted to repeat that feat at Bud’s. Newman has worked with baker Paul LaBelle to painstakingly create a gluten-free dough that they are proud to put on the menu, and all of Bud’s whole pies can be ordered with a gluten-free crust in place of the standard dough. The menu will also offer a rotation of supplementary options including appetizers, salads, wings, bruschetta and more. 

Bar manager Gail Michell has built a cocktail program that is distinct from The Golden Hoosier’s, but with the same focus on quality. Two draft cocktails will be available at all times, including a housemade sangria with flavors rotating according to the season. Michell said some of the other drinks she’ll be featuring include the Crown Manhattan, which features added flavor from rhubarb amaro Zucca Rabarbaro and Fernet Branca bitters, and a martini made with a peppery gin, dry vermouth and housemade giardiniera brine. “I have these classic cocktails, and I wanted to do our version of them without deviating too far from the original recipe,” Michell said. “If you like Manhattans you’re going to like our Manhattan but it won’t taste like other Manhattans you’ve had.” 

The bar also has a number of beers on draft, combining local craft beers with taps reserved for beers like Busch and Budweiser. Michell said she’s also excited about the wine program, which will start out with a selection of wines by the glass before Bud’s adds a range of wines by the bottle. “When we do expand to the by-the-bottle program, I’m really going to lean into Italian wines,” she said. Michell added that there are plans to eventually launch a happy hour at Bud’s. 

The Garcias aren’t done with food and drink establishments in this neighborhood yet. On the other side of South Kingshighway Boulevard, they’ve bought a building that they will eventually convert into a restaurant, with a yoga studio around the back. And a few doors from Bud’s, on the northwest corner of South Kingshighway Boulevard and Chippewa Street, there are plans for a tenant to come in with a cocktail bar. Details are scant at the moment, but watch this space for more information. 

Bud’s Pizza & Beer will be open from 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The kitchen will close at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, but pizza slices will be served until midnight.