Rick Lewis Leaving Southern to Create New Restaurant
St. Louis, MO/June 05, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – It seemed like a marriage made in heaven—if heaven sold really good Nashville-style fried chicken. When James Beard semifinalist chef Rick Lewis teamed up with award-winning pit master Mike Emerson of Pappy’s Smokehouse, the result was downright delicious. The pair created Southern at 3108 Olive Street in June 2015. The restaurant that shared a hallway (and restrooms) with St. Louis’ favorite barbecue joint is home to some of the best fried chicken in town. But the pair are parting ways. Lewis announced Thursday, June 1 that he is leaving Southern to open his own restaurant in The Grove.
In a press release, Lewis said he will partner with his wife Elisa Lewis in this new venture. They have signed a lease for a 4,000-square foot location at 4270 Manchester Ave. in the Mangrove building. The site was once home to Sweetie Pies in the Mangrove. In the press release, Lewis said, “The Grove and Forest Park Southeast neighborhoods felt like a perfect place to open our first restaurant together.”
Lewis will stay on at Southern for “a brief transition period” before opening his new place. He said that he and Elisa are excited about their new venture, but he also expressed gratitude for the experience he gained at Southern. “Building Southern has been a great learning experience,” he said. “I am very thankful for the opportunity to have worked closely with the Pappy’s family these past two years.”
Lewis isn’t saying exactly what the theme of his new restaurant will be, but he is dropping hints. In his statement, he said the new restaurant will seat about 100 and have a “counter service concept with a touch of refinement.” He also noted that “the Mangrove building has been an iconic location for soul food for years.” He added that he and Elisa are looking forward “to memorializing the history of this building through our own take on soul food and Southern-style cuisine.” The Lewis’ hope to open their new restaurant this fall, and have promised more details as opening draws near.
Chef Lewis was a James Beard Award semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2014, when he was at Quincy Street Bistro—the restaurant owned by Elisa Lewis’ parents, Mike and Sue Enright.