by Nancy Stiles
Prolific restaurateur Dave Bailey announced this week that even before his second Rooster location is open, he's working on a new barbecue place. We were a bit surprised at the news -- not only has his vegetarian and whiskey restaurant Small Batch (3001 Locust Street; 314-380-2040) been open for just over three months, it has gotten less-than-favorable reviews from RFT and others.
"I don't want there to be any question as to the poor reviews of Small Batch having any bearing on this [barbecue] restaurant at all," Bailey tells Gut Check. "I've been building these three restaurants simultaneously, and I'm taking full responsibility for the lack of consistency for the food at Small Batch. I already knew before those reviews came out there were consistency issues."
In the past year, Bailey has had a son and planned three new restaurants (Rooster 2.0, Small Batch and this barbecue venture). He also says his executive chef had a new baby a few months ago, so needless to say, things have been crazy.
"I have full confidence that they're gonna nail it," Bailey says. "Our first review at [Baileys'] Chocolate Bar was not good. I had a bad RFT review at Rooster, a bad Sauce review at [Baileys'] Range. We've always lifted ourselves out of mixed reviews when it opened and managed to redeem ourselves."
Bailey also said there was a substantial amount of staff turnover at Small Batch in the beginning, but now he's confident that he has a solid staff. He says he's committed to making the restaurant the kind of niche place that St. Louis needs.
"I don't want all my restaurants to be the same. It's just like a family, where every single character is different," Bailey says. "I'm aware that I made some missteps there, and there wasn't anything in those reviews that made me mad. It's fodder to do better."