Two Closings and A Death in the STL Restaurant Landscape
St. Louis, MO/May 4, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – Loss is hard in any industry. In the close-knit culinary world, it sometimes seems more personal. Perhaps that is telling of the razor’s edge difference between success and failure in the restaurant industry—the reminder that as many factors contribute to a restaurant’s failure, as to its success. It is an industry that is at once acutely competitive and yet, exceedingly warm and hospitable. St. Louis’ culinary community is no exception to this mix of camaraderie and rivalry. So it’s always a little sad when we have to report on closures and losses in our hospitality community.
It was a shock to the St. Louis culinary scene when we learned that an acclaimed South City restaurant had suddenly closed. Grapeseed at 5400 Nottingham in the city’s Southampton neighborhood closed at the end of business on Sunday, April 30. Chef Ben Anderson isn’t saying what he’ll do next, just that he’s exploring a new opportunity outside of St. Louis. On Facebook Chef Anderson thanked his customers and SOHA neighbors writing: “After a successful run, we have closed grapeseed to be able to take advantage of opportunities outside the area. We have enjoyed our wonderful location in SOHA and will miss both our customers and this great area of the city.”
We also said goodbye to longtime St. Louis Chef Thomas R. Elkin, CEC, AAC. He died of a heart attack April 28, 2017 at the age of 65. Following a 33-year career as Executive Chef at the prestigious Bogey Golf Club in Ladue, Chef Elkin went on to teach culinary arts students at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park—a post he held at the time of his death. As an instructor, Elkin received accolades for his inspirational work, including the 2016 Hermann G. Rusch Chef’s Achievement Award (Central Region) from the American Culinary Federation. The award honors chefs who have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to both ACF and the culinary profession and have advanced the culinary profession and ensured the enrichment of students and others in the culinary profession. Chef Elkin is survived by his sons Thomas Elkin II and Tony Elkin.
St. Louis-based Strange Donuts has closed its Columbia, Missouri location. The doughnut chain had shared the 1020 E. Broadway location with Seoul Taco since 2015. Seoul Taco will remain open. On the Strange Doughnuts Facebook page company officials cited a drop in enrollment at the University of Missouri as one of the primary reasons they chose they’re leaving Columba. Freshmen enrollment at Mizzou declined by about 20-percent for the 2016-17 school year. The post read in part, “We are planning some huge things for Strange and need the energy elsewhere.” Strange Doughnut locations in Maplewood and Kirkwood will remain open.
The St. Louis Art Museum will end dinner service at its visually stunning Panorama Restaurant. The high-end restaurant in the museum’s East Building which has struggled since opening in 2013, only offers dinner on Friday nights. The St. Louis Art Museum Board of Commissioners have announced evening meal service will end May 19, 2017. The change is expected to save an estimated $141,000 annually, bringing the museum’s food services closer to breaking even. The Palo Alto, California-based Bon Appétit Management Company provides all of the food services for the museum, including operating Panorama. The upscale restaurant will remain open for lunch Tuesday – Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and Saturday – Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. More changes could be coming after an assessment of museum food operations is completed later this summer.