by Mabel Suen
As the owner of Restituo (4100 Shenandoah Avenue), Nicole McCormack says she "wears every hat in the joint." She refinished half of the furniture in the corner cafe, makes the food and even handcrafted the mugs that the hot drinks are served in. Restituo -- Latin for "refresh" and "renew" -- originally opened as an upcycled retail store on October 3 and rolled out its New York-style coffee-shop concept on April 5.
McCormack, a St. Louis native whose lengthy resume includes co-owning the Galaxy and managing the Boat House, got her start in the kitchen at Mangia Italiano as a teenager, working her way up from the dish station and eventually working under chefs on the line. Later in life she lived in New York for a decade as a hairstylist, bar manager and musician.
"I loved the feel of the space when I first looked at it. It reminded me of a New York loft I couldn't afford, and I knew it'd be a little bit of New York that I miss," she says. "I've been tagging it as a little bit of NYC in the STL.... I wanted it to be very rooted in art and love. Every nook and cranny is a place to go chill out."
To accompany the theme, Restituo offers a New York roast along with a rotating selection of paninis that remind McCormack of classic East Coast deli cases. Outside of a couple standards, McCormack hopes to keep the supply of each item she offers very limited to keep the items and menu fresh.
The two items always available are the Parmesan-encrusted "Triple Threat" with spinach, marinated mozzarella and black-olive ricotta spread as well as the "Red Strutter" with lemon-pepper chicken, fire-roasted red pepper and optional cheese and bacon. Specials include everything from grilled herbed eggplant and jerk pork to Thai-flavored tofu and chipotle chicken.
Restituo will also occasionally offer homemade soups and stews such as Mexican chicken chili as well as brunch options for the weekends such as blueberry waffle wedges and crepes. Restituo's current hours are Monday through Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Extended hours coming soon. For more info and to keep track of revolving specials, visit the Restituo website or follow it on Facebook.
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