Restaurant dining rooms have shuttered throughout the region because of the coronavirus pandemic, though many restaurants themselves remain open with curbside pick-up and/or delivery available. Find a list of options here.
Rolling updates follow:
3:56 p.m. April 1 — Bait, Taco Circus closing until further notice
More restaurants have announced temporary closures.
• Bait has closed until further notice. The seafood restaurant, which opened to acclaim last year in the Central West End, had been offering curbside pick-up and limited delivery.
“The health and safety of our team, guests and community have always been and will always be our top priority,” Bait posted on social media. “We have decided to close our doors until further notice. Stay safe, and we look forward to welcoming you back as soon as possible.”
At Gioia's Deli, owner Alex Donley calls it the Payroll Pizza.
In announcing the impending closure, owner and chef Christian Ethridge wrote about the difficulty of the decision (paragraph breaks added):
"So yes, we stayed open. The urge is to stand and fight, right? The way the restaurant business has taught me to operate over the years, is to show up everyday, no matter what. We work every single day, that's just how it is. Days off are a blur, and we don't even much care about them. Sleep right through them.
"My (front-of-house) staff knows I love them, but I want to speak as a cook for a moment. Many people know this, but some do not understand the exact nature of this particular matter, which is this — you simply are not allowed to call in if you are a cook. There are no substitute teachers for a cook's station. And if you are as good as you are supposed to be, no one can stand in for you on your station. I wish it were different. But it has always been this way, long since before any of us started cooking.
“So we bond over working through the most vicious of hangovers, and yes we have to come in even when we are sick. We groan and cuss, or maybe we let out a tragic cackling laugh because we are missing someone's funeral. Don't even think of asking us to a graduation, because we're not going. But the food, the food always comes out executed perfectly, day after day.
"This is the tell tale hum of the machine that is the working class. So, as you can see, I did not know how to close Taco Circus. I just knew how to show up. But the reports of an impending spike in cases coming for us in the following weeks has forced us to remove ourselves from harm's way. So I guess we are going to close after service on Saturday, and allow the storm to pass. Party at my place when this blows over.”
1:55 p.m. March 31 — Union Loafers returns with bread sales
Union Loafers has reopened for retail bread sales. The acclaimed restaurant and bread bakery in Botanical Heights closed until further notice on March 17.
Bread is available for online ordering only 9 a.m.-4 p.m. or sold out Tuesday through Saturday. Curbside pick-up is noon-4 p.m.
“We will offer bread Tuesday through Saturday, so no need to hoard, but we're not setting limits in case you feel like being a super cool neighbor,” the restaurant wrote on Instagram.
8:33 a.m. — James Beard Foundation closes grant applications
That didn't take long. The James Beard Foundation has closed applications for the grants it announced Monday:
"Due to an overwhelming response within hours of opening, the Foundation has suspended the application for the JBF Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund at this time. We recognize the tremendous need from independent restaurants across the country and will continue to work to support you however best we can. We will notify our audiences if the application is going to reopen."
4:24 p.m. March 30 — James Beard Foundation offers grants to restaurants
The James Beard Foundation is offering $15,000 grants to small, independent restaurants at risk of going out of business during the coronavirus pandemic.
Per the announcement qualifying restaurants must be “independently owned with 100 or less full- or part-time employees as of February 15, 2020, or...a restaurant group in which each member restaurant has 100 or less full- or part-time employees on that date.”
Applications are due by 2 p.m. this Friday (April 3).
Full details and and an application are available on the foundation's website.
(Disclosure: I am a member of the James Beard Foundation's restaurants and chefs awards committee.)
3:00 p.m. March 30 — Stir Crazy Fresh Asian Grill to close permanently
Stir Crazy Fresh Asian Grill in Creve Coeur will close permanently at the end of business Tuesday (March 31).
Co-owner Jeff Daniels tells Off the Menu the restaurant cannot recover from the drop in business since the coronavirus pandemic forced a shift to takeout and delivery only.
“It's just too big a mountain to climb,” Daniels says.
Daniels and co-owner Andy Spann took over Stir Crazy only last November.
As of now, the coronavirus pandemic has forced restaurants in the region to end dine-in serv…
10:54 a.m. March 28 — Crown Candy Kitchen closing until further notice
Karandzieff cited the health and safety of employees and customers.
“We did not come to this decision lightly,” a Facebook post announcing the closure reads in part. “As a small business owner, the people that work for you become family and right now we have our family’s best interest at heart.”
Crown Candy Kitchen will continue candy production for shipping and curbside pick-up.
“And finally, don’t you worry, we’ve been on this corner of the world for over 107 years and plan to be here for many more!” the Facebook post concludes. “We just have to weather this storm. We know all of our loyal customers will be back. And in no time at all, will be enjoying their favorite BLTs and Chocolate Malts again! We love you St. Louis! Your continued support is why we are here!!”
9:23 a.m. March 27 — Restaurants host Gateway Resiliency Fund benefit
A group of St. Louis restaurants is hosting a pay-what-you-can breakfast and lunch Sunday (March 29) from 9 a.m. until sold out at the Boathouse at Forest Park (6101 Government Drive).
The event benefits the Gateway Resilience Fund, which provides short-term monetary relief to the employees and owners of independent restaurants, bars and other businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Lunch from 11 a.m. until sold out features fried chicken and plant-based fried “chicken” sandwiches from Chicken Out, the in-development concept from the Sugarfire Smoke House and Hi-Pointe Drive-In team. Sugarfire and Hi-Pointe are serving soup.
6:00 p.m. March 26 — Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, Indo to close
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard will close its Chippewa Street stand until further notice, effective Saturday (March 28). It is currently operating with curbside pick-up.
A Facebook post announcing the closure reads in part:
“Even while providing curbside service, the risk to our employees and customers is too high to warrant staying open during this crisis. If you are still craving our product it will remain available for retail at most local grocery stores and many local pizza places and restaurants. We will try to continue producing our product to match demand, but are not requiring any of our employees to come to work.”
Also announcing its closure until further notice this afternoon is the acclaimed new Botanical Heights restaurant Indo, effective Friday (March 27).
“It was a hard to decision to make,” the announcement on social media says in part, “but the safety and longevity of the people that we work side-by-side with is our number one priority.”
Nippon Tei and Ramen Tei, the adjacent restaurants near Ballwin operated by Indo chef Nick Bognar and his mother, Ann Bognar, are also closing until further notice effective Friday.
Prominent restaurants Vicia, Olive + Oak and I Fratellini are among those now closing until further notice.
9:25 a.m. March 26 — Catching up
If you missed last night's update, Pappy's Smokehouse and its sibling restaurants have all now closed until further notice. Scroll down for more.
Also closed until further notice:
• I missed the announcement on Tuesday that Annie Gunn's and the adjacent Smokehouse Market have closed until further notice.
“Taking care of our Annie Gunn's family and customers is our number-one priority, and we look forward to welcoming you all back soon,” the announcement across social media reads in part.
• Morning Glory Diner in Benton Park West announced this morning on Instagram it is closing until further notice.
8:08 p.m. March 25 — Pappy's Smokehouse and sibling restaurants close until further notice
Pappy's Smokehouse is closed until further notice, effective Thursday (March 26). The beloved barbecue restaurant announced the closure on Instagram Wednesday evening.
"There is no right call on this stuff," co-owner Mike Emerson tells Off the Menu.
Emerson said, "I wondered if we were achieving our goal of helping everyone by doing minimal takeout with possible risk."
(This post has been updated to clarify Emerson's comments about why the restaurants closed with a direct quote rather than a paraphrase.)
"I can't judge, I don't expect others to judge," he said. "We're all entrepreneurs, and everybody's got to make their own call."
Pappy's Soulard sibling Bogart's Smokehouse announced its temporary closure yesterday.
"You get successful, and you get a big family, so you know, the bigger the family, it hurts," Emerson said.
He said the goal was to weather the storm and have a ship to keep sailing on the other side.
"I made my career through hugging people when times were tough," Emerson said, "and now the one thing they tell me is 'OK, don't do that.'"
9:34 a.m. March 25 — Kalbi Taco Shack closes, plus non-closing news
Kalbi Taco Shack in Benton Park is the latest restaurant to end curbside pick-up and delivery service and close until further notice.
“Kalbi Taco Shack would like to thank everyone for their love and support through this rough time but now with the ‘stay-at-home’ order, we feel it’s best to cease all operations of the restaurant till further notice for everyone’s safety till then please be safe,” owner Sue Wong-Shackelford said in a statement.
In non-closing news:
• Following up on my story last week about food trucks coping with the pandemic, Go Gyro Go owner Ken Hirsch tells me his truck and Cha Cha Chow are ready to serve out of their shared commissary kitchen at 4001 Utah Street in Tower Grove South. For Go Gyro Go, online ordering for pick-up will be available through the truck's website for lunch (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) and dinner (4:30-7:30 p.m.) service.
• Tower Grove East pizzeria Pizza Head remains closed, but owner Scott Sandler has announced Bagel Head, a one-day bagel pop-up. You can buy a half-dozen large plain bagels for $9; vegan cream “cheese” is available for $4. Order online from 7 a.m. on Thursday for pick-up between 3-7 p.m. Friday.
• Seoul Taco has added meal kits and limited grocery items to its pick-up and delivery menu. Grocery items include meats by the pound marinated in the restaurant's sauces and, per the announcement, "Asian specialty food items, including rice, spices, and sauces."
2:08 p.m. March 24 — Olive & Oak, Clover and the Bee close, Cafe Natasha's closing this weekend
A post on Olive + Oak 's Facebook page announcing the closure reads in part:
"Over the past few days it’s becoming very clear that Covid-19 is closing in on STL and glaringly obvious that no matter how careful we are in our execution of food handling and carry-out service, there is just too much room for error. While the financial hardship our staff will face is devastating, their health comes first."
Restaurant critic Ian Froeb tries to capture the two weeks when everything about dining out changed.
11:30 a.m. March 24 — Bogart's Smokehouse to close until further notice
Soulard barbecue restaurant Bogart's Smokehouse will close until further notice at 4 p.m. Tuesday (or earlier, if it sells out).
A representative for the restaurant said sales have been down and continue to decrease.
The other restaurants in Bogart's group — Pappy's Smokehouse, Dalie's Smokehouse and Southern — will remain open for curbside pick-up.
9:05 a.m. March 24 — Blues City Deli, others close until further notice
Beloved Benton Park sandwich shop Blues City Deli has ended its curbside takeout service and will remain closed until further notice.
“We feel confident that we will reopen,” owner Vince Valenza wrote in a Facebook post announcing the closure. “Please keep our staff in your thoughts and prayers as they will be temporarily out of work.”
Melo's Pizzeria, located immediately behind Blues City Deli, will remain open for call-in curbside pick-up on Thursday and Friday from 5-8:30 p.m.
“It is our hope that by taking these measures we will be able to reopen with our normal model of dine in/carry out service in the near future,” Valenza wrote.
Also now closed until further notice:
• Edibles & Essentials in St. Louis Hills: “Painfully we have made the decision to cease all operations for the time being as we hope this pandemic will pass quickly and we all stay safe,” owners Matt and Mary Beth Borchardt wrote on social media. “It is our full intention to re-open as soon as the world is safe for everyone to gather around the bar or chill on the patio.”
• Frazer's Restaurant and Lounge in Benton Park: “With the best interests of all our loyal guests and employees in mind, Frazer's will be closing its doors for any business for the the next 2 weeks until we are through the more serious period of the pandemic,” owner Frazer Cameron wrote on social media.
6:00 p.m. March 23 — Blueprint Coffee closes coffee bars
Blueprint Coffee is ending takeout service at its Delmar Loop and Lindenwood Park locations and closing both until further notice.
“When the stay-at-home order came out, we really supported that, we felt like it was the right time for that from a public-policy standpoint,” co-founder Mike Marquard tells Off the Menu.
“But for the health of our employees, to ask them to come to work in the face of that, that's just a lot. It's a lot to carry as an owner from a moral perspective and a safety perspective.”
Marquand says while Blueprint could have continued as an “essential” business, “we're not going to kid ourselves, coffee's great, but you can get by without it. It's not like calories.”
Customers can still purchase packaged Blueprint coffee through its website. A skeleton crew of Blueprint owners will continue its roasting operations.
Per the announcement, Blueprint hopes to reopen or become eligible for federal or state assistance by April 2. In the meantime, about a quarter of employees have paid time-off while others are receiving a stipend.
Marquard says the coronavirus pandemic hasn't yet affected Blueprint's relationships with coffee growers across the globe. But as the company stops selling coffee — wholesale business is already down to 10 percent of its usual amount, according to Marquard — it won't be able to enter as many contracts to purchase coffee from future harvests.
The restaurant will be more casual than his acclaimed flagship.
5:00 p.m. March 23 — Hamiltons close restaurants, give away sanitizer
Updated with comment from Paul Hamilton
Paul and Wendy Hamilton have closed all of their restaurants until further notice. Eleven Eleven Mississippi and Vin de Set were already closed. PW Pizza and Hamilton's Urban Steakhouse now join them.
“It had a lot to do with keeping an eye on the safety of our staff, kind of gauging their comfort level on what decisions we were making,” Paul Hamilton said. “And while they were in it for whatever we could do, I kind of sensed that they were getting a little freaked out themselves.”
The restaurants, located where Lafayette Square meets downtown west, also didn't see much takeout traffic.
“We obviously weren't doing much (at lunch) because there's nobody going down there to work,” he said. “And Lafayette Square, they're always very supportive, but it's not a big neighborhood.”
In the meantime, the Hamiltons are giving away their restaurants' excess sanitizer.
Paul Hamilton said the decision began during a conversation with a friend in the hospital field who had been shorted some supplies. She took the medical-grade black gloves the restaurants had stocked up on, but wasn't sure if she could take the sanitizer.
The restaurant's chemical supplier provided the proper dilution ratio. Per the press release announcing the closures, “The solution being provided is being mixed to the current CDC standard to sanitize surfaces as related to the Covid-19 outbreak. It is a 1000 parts per million chlorinated solution.”
The sanitizer is free. The Hamiltons will donate any money collected to their hourly employees who have been laid off.
You must bring your own container, with a limit of 32 ounces per person.
The sanitizer is available in the parking lot of Vin de Set and PW Pizza at 2017 Chouteau Avenue from noon-3 p.m. daily.
8:37 p.m. March 22 — Dave Bailey closes restaurants until further notice
Restaurateur Dave Bailey is closing all of his venues — Baileys' Chocolate Bar, two locations of Rooster, Baileys' Range, Small Batch, Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar and Pop — until further notice.
In a statement, Bailey said, "Never in our wildest dreams would we have ever thought that this would be our reality right now. Your support not only over the past couple of weeks, but for the past 15 years, means more than you could ever know."
The final service will be curbside pick-up of brunch and groceries Monday at the Tower Grove East location of Rooster on South Grand Boulevard.
"It is gut-wrenching to know that our family has to be apart for now, and there are no words to express the sense of sadness we feel around this," Bailey said in the statement. "To our employees and the St. Louis community, please know that we are going to work tirelessly to get through this with you."
Also on Sunday evening, the Webster Groves restaurant Frisco Barroom announced that it would end its takeout service and close until further notice.
5:30 p.m. March 22 — Vicia closes until further notice
Vicia has ended the curbside pick-up option that replaced its regular dinner service during the coronavirus pandemic.
The widely acclaimed restaurant will be closed until further notice.
“It was definitely tough,” chef Michael Gallina tells Off the Menu about the decision.
Gallina had already laid off much of his staff and was working with a skeleton crew to prepare the restaurant's curbside “Family Meal” option.
Still, he said the idea of that one of them could come down with COVID-19 and spread it to the others and their families “made it a little bit easier to make that decision.”
Gallina's wife and co-owner, Tara, has been talking on the phone with elected officials, discussing ways to help the restaurant industry.
“We've been trying to focus our energy on that,” he said.
Due to an overwhelming response within hours of opening, the Foundation has suspended the application for the JBF Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund at this time. We recognize the tremendous need from independent restaurants across the country and will continue to work to support you however best we can. We will notify our audiences if the application is going to reopen.
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