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Another Potential Bidder Eying Panera Buyout

Another Potential Bidder Eying Panera Buyout

Burger King Parent Said to be Exploring Options

St. Louis, MO/April 11, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – The story that St. Louis-based Panera Bread is going to be purchased by an out of town entity just got a lot more complicated.  Last Tuesday we reported on the rumors that the bakery-cafe chain was going to be bought out by an outside firm.  The next day, we had learned that JAB Holding Company, Krispy Kreme’s parent, had reached a $7 billion deal to buy the company.  The terms of the deal had JAB paying Panera stockholders $315 per share, and assuming $340 million in debt.

But now it seems there is a new bidder interested in buying Panera.  The Warren Buffett-backed private equity firm 3G Capital, based in Brazil, is reportedly exploring the possibility of making a competing bid for Panera Bread.  The New York Post (http://nypost.com/2017/04/10/buffett-backed-firm-interested-in-bid-for-panera-bread-sources/) cites unnamed “a source close to the situation” in its report that 3G, which owns Burger King and Tim Hortons and just entered a purchase agreement with Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, has hired investment bank Lazard to study the possibility of a bid for Panera.

The move isn’t unusual in itself, but would represent a new strategy by 3G, since the Brazilian firm has worked with JAB Holdings in the past—both firms have invested in each other’s past deals, according to the Post.  The history of the two private equity firms has a somewhat symbiotic relationship.  JAB Chief Executive Olivier Goudet is also chair of 3G’s Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Each PE would bring something a little different to Panera’s table. Luxembourg-based JAB owns Keurig Green Mountain, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Caribou Coffee and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.  If they prevail in the purchase, it’s expected that they would offer Peet’s and Caribou products inside Panera’s bakery-cafes.  There is speculation that 3G would use Panera to expand its Tim Horton presence beyond Canada, and in doing so bolster Panera’s breakfast business.

That deal JAB had struck with Panera had been expected to close in the third quarter of 2017.  It’s not clear now if 3G’s interest in the St. Louis-based company will delay a sale, nor how long that delay would last.  Any offer from 3G would need to be substantially better than JAB’s current deal, since that agreement carries a $215 million, or three-percent termination fee if Panera backs out to take a better offer.

Two Plumbers Offers Craft Beer & Video Games in St. Charles

Two Plumbers

St. Charles’ Two Plumbers Brewery + Arcade Now Open

St. Charles, MO/March 27, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – St. Charles County has a brand new way to play.  Two Plumbers Brewery + Arcade at 2236 First Capitol Drive opened for business on March 18th.  It’s one of just a handful of establishments nationwide to combine the arcade bar experience with house-brewed beer.  Two Plumbers was named to honor Mario and Luigi, Nintendo’s famous video game brothers who first emerged to save New York from the monsters in its sewers in 1983.  As Mario Brothers, they went on to rescue the hapless Pauline from the great ape Donkey Kong, and to arcade racing fame in Mario Kart, becoming the faces of Nintendo’s brand.

Two Plumbers Brewery & Arcade, St. Charles, MO

Two Plumbers Brewery & Arcade, St. Charles, MO

The new brewhouse and arcade near Lindenwood University is the collaborative creation of childhood friends Robert Schowengerdt and John Simon.  A longtime video game fan, Schowengerdt’s background is in animation.  Simon is a microbiologist.  With a decade of home brewing experience, plus time spent in the breweries of Six Row Brewing Co. and Ferguson Brewing Co, he’s leading the brewing operations.

Two Plumbers Brewery + Arcade is an adults-only (over 21) establishment offering small-batch craft beer.  There are ten taps with seasonal offerings and two year round beers: a honey blond called Pauline (the damsel in distress in Donkey Kong), and an American brown ale called Braunen Mantel (German for “brown coat”), which is a nod to the rebels in the sci-fi TV series Firefly. You’ll also find the wares of other craft brewers like Firestone Walker (Buellton, CA), Founders Brewing (Grand Rapids, MI), Logboat Brewing (Columbia, MO) and others.

The arcade and bar occupies more than 3,000 square feet in an unassuming looking strip mall.  Inside there’s an industrial vibe and seating for about 80.  The space is centered by long, beer hall style tables, and surrounded by the bright, inviting lights of more than 25 video games and a wall of 10 pinball machines.  Customers will find everything from the classic Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, and Frogger to Mortal Combat and imported Japanese gaming consoles.

Schowengerdt and Simon are part of an emerging beer making community west of the Missouri River.  St. Charles County has been called a craft beer desert.  A few breweries have begun to fill that void.  Two Plumbers is the newest.  As such, they’re hosting a Marquee event during this year’s St. Charles County Craft Beer Week (April 22-29, 2017).  Join them Friday, April 28th from 8:30 p.m. to midnight for Brewery + Arcade Night.

Two Plumbers Brewery + Arcade is open Tuesday – Friday from 3:00 p.m. to Midnight and Saturdays from noon to 1:30 a.m.  Be advised that this is a craft brewery and arcade, not a restaurant.  So if you want food, you’ll probably want to bring your own.  The owners say they are working to add (locally produced) Dan O’s frozen pizza.  It should be available at the bar in the next few weeks.  Even so, customers are welcome to bring in their own food, or have it delivered to them at the arcade.

Contact Information:

Two Plumbers Brewery + Arcade
Owner: Robert Schowengerdt
Brewmaster: John Simon
2236 First Capitol Drive
St. Charles, MO 63301
Phone: (636) 224-8626

Longtime Soulards Restaurant & Bar Fire

Longtime Soulards Restaurant & Bar Fire

Fire Destroys Soulards Restaurant & Bar

ST. LOUIS, MO/March 17, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) A longtime mainstay in Soulard is no more.  Firefighters were called to a blaze at the Soulards Restaurant & Bar located at 1731 S. 7th, at approximately 6:00 p.m. tonight.

Longtime Soulards Restaurant & Bar Fire

Longtime Soulards Restaurant & Bar Fire

Jasean Davis, a dishwasher at the restaurant, said the fire began when the manager was cleaning the stove.  He says he believes backed up grease and food were the cause of the fire, which eventually traveled to the hood.  Passersby saw flames shooting from the roof.

The fine dining venue located one block south of the historic Soulard Market, and one mile from Busch Stadium appears to be a total loss.  This is devastating news for Tim Badock, who has owned the restaurant for over 35 years.  Badlock’s parents opened the restaurant in 1977.

Many of the employees had worked at Soulard’s for years.  The low key fine dining venue with an American steak and seafood menu also had many regular patrons from all around the metropolitan areas.

At the time the fire broke out no customers were in the restaurant.  There were workers onsite but fortunately no one was hurt.  Badock’s family also owns the Lewis and Clark restaurant in St. Charles, which was also damaged last week by fire.


Balance Coffee & Tea Is Brewing New Life into Old Belleville Depot

Balance Coffee & Tea, Belleville, IL

Belleville’s Newest Cuppa Is Balance Coffee & Tea

Belleville, IL/March 1, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – There’s something new brewing at the old Belleville train depot.  A brand new a coffee roastery and café opened February 20th in the historic building.  Balance Coffee & Tea at 732 South Illinois Street is filling a culinary void left downtown after St. Louis Bread Co. and Junction Coffee closed last year.  Balance founder Marshall Morris grew up in Belleville and Columbia, Illinois before going to work in the railroad industry.  His work eventually took him to America’s unofficial coffee capital, Seattle, Washington.  That’s where Morris, after 15 years, got out of the railroad industry and learned the coffee trade.  So when he decided to head home and open a coffee roastery and café, the old train depot in Belleville seemed a natural fit.  The now beautifully restored building dates back to 1927, when it served the Green Diamond Line for Illinois Central Railroad—the same company that gave Morris his first railroad job.

Morris learned his new trade inside a Seattle coffee house that operated a number of cafés and it’s own roastery.  That gave him the chance to learn the coffee making business from bean to cup.  He quickly moved up from barista to coffee educator—the in-house expert charged with training staff, and educating customers.  While in Seattle, Morris founded his roasting business, Balance Coffee & Tea, and began selling his small batch, artisan beans online.  In Belleville he’s blending and roasted beans right in the back of the shop.  To call him an artisan, small batch coffee roaster, is not understating it.  His Mill City 1K coffee roaster does 2.2 lbs. of beans at a time.  That’s a maximum output of about 13 lbs. an hour.

Balance Coffee & Tea owner Marshall Morris spoke with the Belleville News Democrat about opening his new coffee shop and roastery at 732 South Illinois Street in Belleville.

Those house-roasted beans are excellent for many brewing methods such as a Chemex, pour over, AeroPress, French press, and even a drip coffee machine.   Just let them know which, and they’ll grind appropriately.   Their fresh roasts are sold in coffee caches—80g packages of their beans, pre-ground for ease of use.  You can have them delivered (via US Postal Service), or pick them up right in the shop.  And of course, the coffee and espresso drinks sold in the shop are made with those same beans.  They’re also commercial cold brew nitro coffee and tea suppliers.

Some of the most popular offerings at Balance include their Belleville Blend, which is made with a blend of three beans, and the Average Joe, a double blend that is their darkest roast.  These are coffees everyone can appreciate.  Balance also offers single-origin coffees that rotate with regional coffee growing seasons.  At various times, customers will find coffees sourced from Honduras, Ethiopia, and Columbia.  Another coffee treat Morris believes customers will crave, especially as it gets warmer, is the cold brewed nitro coffee.  For those who’ve never tried one, it’s cold coffee on tap that’s been infused with tiny nitrogen bubbles, giving the coffee a foamy texture, like beer.  Nitro coffee lovers say it’s creamier and richer than regular iced coffee, and slightly sweeter than your average cold brew too.  Morris makes it himself, and even provides it to commercial customers for resale.

Besides coffee, customers will find a nice selection of their tea blends, including a mint green tea, a spiced chai tea, and black mango tea.  There are plans to further develop their tea offerings as the business progresses.  Café customers will soon find a full line of pastries too—from another new(ish) metro-east business, Lizzy Bob’s Bakery in Fairview Heights; and quiche from the baker at Our Coffee House Cafe in Columbia.

Balance Coffee & Tea is open 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday – Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Saturday – Sunday.  After March 7th, artist and yoga instructor Nicole Shanks’ will hold Yoga & Coffee at Balance Coffee & Tea.  Each Tuesday from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., $15 will get you an early morning yoga class and coffee from the cafe!

Morris says he a lot of factors came together to lead him back to Belleville.  It was a chance to come home, a chance to bring an incredible coffee experience to his home town, and a chance to help nurture the culinary and artisan community here.  Cafe customers will notices the works of local artists on display (with more to come).  Morris says future plans include offering coffee tastings at the cafe and live music on Fridays.  Eventually he wants to develop a roasting plant and nitro brewery in Columbia.  For now, he’s focused on making the best coffee he can for a metro east community thirsty for a great cuppa.

Contact information:

Balance Coffee & Tea
Owner: Marshall Morris
732 South Illinois Street
Belleville, IL 62220
Email: balancecoffeeandteas@gmail.com