by Nancy Stiles
After Chevy's vacated a lucrative space near the intersection of Clarkson and Clayton Roads in Ellisville, we have been watching to see what restaurant would snag it. The Crafty Chameleon, a craft beer bar, took over some of it, and as we reported in June, Pittsburgh restaurant Walnut Grill will join the bar. At first, we were dismayed that it was another chain, but it's a little more local than we thought.
Though Kirk Vogel started the restaurant in Pittsburgh, his brother Eric Vogel is the one who will be handling the St. Louis expansion along with Vogel's brother-in-law Steven Baker. Vogel and his wife have lived in St. Louis since 2000, and with no plans to leave, Vogel teamed up with his brother in a way that lets them work together and allows his family to remain in St. Louis.
Talks for a St. Louis restaurant began as early as 2005, but the former Chevy's space opened up recently and was the perfect spot, not least because of its 4,000 square foot patio.
"I think [Walnut Grill] has a lot to offer in the area. The menu's very diverse -- it covers a lot of different palates," Vogel tells us. "You've got a carload of four people that want to go out to dinner; there's something on our menu that will probably appeal to everyone in that car. I think thats a great thing to be able to offer."
The buildout is still in progress, and Vogel says at this point they've got a roof and four walls -- plumbing and air conditioning are in progress. The contractor's working quickly though, and Vogel is aiming for an opening in the first week of December.
The expansive patio will feature an outdoor bar and fire pits, among other things. Vogel also says he's looking forward to engaging with the community through charity events and fundraisers.
"The other thing that I loved about Kirk's place [in Pittsburgh] is that they're heavily involved in the community," Vogel says, "so I'm really looking forward to bringing that into St. Louis and getting involved with the local community as a restaurant -- I think thats probably one of my favorite parts of the restaurant business."
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.
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