Big news for the downtown St. Louis restaurant scene: Later this winter, Reign Restaurant
will open at 1122 Washington Avenue.
Located in the space formerly occupied by Copia Restaurant & Wine Garden, Reign is the brainchild of Dana Kelly, the local financial advisor, community activist and nonprofit founder who ran for the position of St. Louis license collector in 2018. She is currently the executive director for the St. Louis Women's March and owner of The Firm, a financial consulting agency.
In a phone call with the RFT
on Friday, Kelly said she was inspired to open Reign after visiting similar upscale restaurant concepts in cities across the United States during her travels.
"I've always wanted a bar, and I've always wanted to provide an upscale experience for us here in St. Louis," Kelly says. "I travel a lot, and I used to go into spaces and I go, 'Wow. Why isn't this in St. Louis? Why haven't we brought this concept to St. Louis?' I've gone to spaces like this in Texas and Atlanta and become a member, and I can't wait to get back to those spaces and be treated as well as I'm always treated. And now I'm very excited about being able to bring it [to St. Louis]."
As for the dining experience, Kelly says she plans to serve seafood such as Maryland-style crab cakes, entrees such as lamb chops and eats from around the world.
"I'm going to have three chefs; they're all going to bring a different taste to the space," Kelly says. "We're going to align some excitement around great eating, which I'm looking forward to. We're also going to have different experiences for certain members. I don't want to give too much away because I want it to be a surprise for people when I release all the information."
Kelly says that she looked at spaces for Reign all across the St. Louis area, but ultimately, she was committed to invest and employ workers in the city. It hasn't been an easy road to get to this point, but Kelly hopes that Reign can serve as a model for other local entrepreneurs — especially persons of color who have dealt with adversity and discrimination in St. Louis.
"The name Reign was inspired by, of course, royalty," Kelly says. "I've done a lot of door to door to the people in our city, and there's so many people who are just defeated. I want them to understand that we have the opportunity for change; we have the opportunity to build in a space that hasn't given us the option to build before. I wanted to be that person of color.
"I've faced a lot of racism, a lot of bigotry, especially when I was running for office," Kelly continues. "When I decided to have this space on Washington and Tucker, I've been told I don't belong, and it was devastating to hear what other persons of color have had to deal with [opening businesses]. I want to show them that we can exist here, and not only can be exist here, we can be successful and we belong. It's no longer preservation; it's perseverance."
Kelly says she's hoping to host a soft opening for Reign in mid-January featuring all three chefs wherein guests can pre-purchase their dinners for that night only. Kelly is targeting a grand opening date in early February.
"I want people to come and enjoy us once we're open and know that we're for everybody," Kelly says.
More as we learn it.
Follow Liz Miller on Twitter at @lizzaymillah. We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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