The Crow's Nest (7336 Manchester Road; 314-781-0989) is a much-loved watering hole in downtown Maplewood, as was owner Mike McLaughlin's previous restaurant, The Bleeding Deacon. Now, McLaughlin is taking on one of the most prominent storefronts in the neighborhood -- the former home of Jumpin' Jupiter on Manchester Road and Sutton Boulevard -- to open an ambitious venture: a whiskey and pizza restaurant-cum-event space.
"I want an anchor on that corner, a visible business that's gonna help anchor that corner for a long time," McLaughlin tells Gut Check. "I wanted it to be a neighborhood...not icon, but draw a lot of attention and be there for a long time."
Pizza and whiskey may not intuitively go hand in hand, but an unusual concept is exactly what McLaughlin had in mind.
"For the long term development of the neighborhood, there really needs to be something there [at that corner] beyond what's been there before," he says. "The only way I can see to make that viable is to fill it up with something the neighborhood doesn't have right now: high-end pizza."
Jaxson Noon -- with whom McLaughlin opened the Bleeding Deacon -- will take over as chef now that he's back in town after a sojourn to Eugene, Oregon. Noon and McLaughlin also do a little catering together now too, and McLaughlin says everything seemed to come together at the right time.
"It's gonna be real laid back on eating side -- carry out, our own pizza dough, sauces. We're gonna do ribs too, which are pretty awesome," he says. "Braised in bourbon marinara...It's almost like an Italian-style rib, which doesn't really make any sense, but that's OK, because they're really good."
The decor will Art Deco-inspired, but fairly minimal and clean, which McLaughlin says will be the main difference from anything else he's ever done, "which has a bunch of crap in it all over the place." The name Blind Tiger comes from the old Prohibition slang for "speakeasy" which fits with the 1920s decor. McLaughlin is also considering making the main entrance lead to the event space while a a side door serves the restaurant -- "like a speakeasy but less douchey."
McLaughlin and Noon are eyeing a November 1 soft opening. We'll have a first look soon after doors open -- stay tuned!