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New owner to reopen iconic Eat-Rite Diner

New owner to reopen iconic Eat-Rite Diner

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St. Louis at a standstill

Eat-Rite Diner's Sarah Williams had cooked for only two take-out customers by nightfall in downtown St. Louis on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. "I have no idea what to think, I just want to go home at this point," said Williams. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

The pendulum has swung back from “don’t eat at all” to Eat-Rite — sort of.

Local chef Tim Eagan is taking over the iconic building at 622 Chouteau Avenue just south of downtown and will reopen it as a restaurant called Fleur STL at Eat-Rite.

“Obviously, it's iconic and historic and a St. Louis landmark,” Eagan tells Off the Menu. “So people don't really like messing with tradition too much.”

His goal, he says, is to “polish it up a bit.”

Previous Eat-Rite Diner owners Joel and Shawna Holtman closed the Route 66 landmark in December. The Holtmans, in turn, had reopened Eat-Rite in April 2018, six months after longtime owner L.B. Powers shuttered the restaurant.

Eagan’s restaurant career includes opening the late Park West Grille in Benton Park West and working as executive chef at Porter’s Steakhouse in Collinsville. For the past couple of years, he has been both a consulting chef and a private in-home chef.

The menu at Fleur STL at Eat-Rite will feature “typical diner classics,” Eagan says. Expect burgers, biscuits and gravy and Eagan’s own take on the slinger.

Though he originally envisioned opening only for breakfast and lunch, he is now considering offering an early-dinner menu as well and floats such ideas as meatloaf and the “upscale comfort food” he served at Park West Grille (think country-fried rack of lamb with mashed potatoes and gravy).

Eagan aims for more scratch cooking — hand-cut fries, sauces made in house — while retaining the classic diner feel. He is also applying for a liquor license so diners can order a bloody mary or mimosa at brunch. (He also might set up a cart with hot dogs and beer during Cardinals games.)

As for renovations, Eagan wants to relight the existing Eat-Rite marquee lights and add his own lighted fleur-de-lis sign to the roof. He plans to install new flooring and in general give a fresh look to the restaurant’s dated elements.

Eagan aims to reopen by mid- to late May. He says he is already overwhelmed by the response to Eat-Rite’s return.

“You couldn't ask for anything better,” he says. “I just can't wait to be a part of it. I've got strangers reaching out and thanking me, which is amazing.”

James Bommarito gives a behind-the-scenes tour at his new restaurant, which moved from its longtime home downtown to Centene Plaza in Clayton. The new location opens March 22. (Bommarito removed his mask for this video.)


45 recipes from some of St. Louis' favorite restaurants and chefs

Every week, the Let's Eat team takes your requests for recipes from St. Louis area restaurants. Check out this collection of all the recipes we ran in 2020.

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