by Nancy Stiles
As we reported last week, the empty Citygarden space at 808 Chestnut Street will soon be home to a new lunch spot from the owners of members-only restaurant Blood & Sand (1500 St. Charles Street; 314-241-7263). Owners Adam Frager and TJ Vytlacil are hard at work with Blood & Sand's new executive chef Nick Martinkovic to flesh out the lunch spot's menu.
We spoke with Frager about the concept behind Death in the Afternoon, how it will affect Blood & Sand and, of course, we had to ask about that name.
"We think that downtown could benefit from having a really high quality lunch space that took pride and care in their presentation, but with familiarity and approachability in price point and to be able to do it consistently and in a timely manner," Frager says.
Martinkovic will oversee the food at Death in the Afternoon, but there will be a chef de cuisine in charge on a day-to-day basis so that Martinkovic can focus on Blood & Sand. Frager says the chef de cuisine will be someone they promote from the inside, but it's not finalized just yet. At night, Death in the Afternoon will transition into an event space, which Frager says is ideal for such a stunning space.
The name comes from the 1932 non-fiction book by Ernest Hemingway about bullfighting -- but it's also the name of a cocktail invented by Papa himself. Frager and Vytlacil did some research on the cocktail and thought it was perfect once they discovered its origins (plus, Frager admits it sounds pretty cool).
The menu won't be finalized for at least another month and a half, but Frager teases things like a classic burger, sandwiches and hot dogs with house-butchered meat. He says he wants the menu to be able to naturally evolve in the next few weeks, instead of rushing to just throw things on it. Frager and Vytlacil are aiming for Death in the Afternoon to open in mid- to late April.
"We knew from the beginning that we wanted to make sure our next project complemented Blood & Sand -- never competed," Frager says. "Not just in terms of products but our time and energy. We don't want for one second to take for granted Blood & Sand, or diffuse our energies here. Myself and TJ had this Blood & Sand idea for seven years and it took a long time, so we have a tremendous amount of gratitude that we get to do what we love to do."