COMPLIMENTS OF LAZY TIGER
Described as a "bartender's cocktail bar," Lazy Tiger will open in the Central West End this evening.
For acclaimed bartender Tim Wiggins, Lazy Tiger (210 North Euclid Avenue)
is the cocktail bar he's been dreaming of opening for as long as he can remember, and earlier this year, he was well on his way to doing so. He and co-owner Travis Howard were getting ready to start designing the space, and had big plans for a springtime opening. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the St. Louis area, putting their plans on hold.
After months of delays and serious soul searching about how to open a new concept in a pandemic, Wiggins and Howard will finally open Lazy Tiger tonight in the Central West End. As Wiggins explains, they did not take the decision to do so lightly, but looked to how their other concepts, Retreat Gastropub and Yellowbelly, were faring during their reopenings to see what was possible with their new bar.
"We've been open for about a month-plus now, and we were waiting to gauge from our customers how comfortable they are dining inside and outside," Wiggins explains. "Are they spending money? What does it look like? We've been up fifteen or twenty percent [in business sales] each week, and we see that people really want to go out, and they are being safe. It's been really encouraging to see how few incidents we've had."
As Wiggins explains, part of the reason he and Howard feel comfortable opening Lazy Tiger is because of how controlled it will be. There will be no walk-ins (except in the unlikely event that space permits) or elbow-to-elbow bar scene. Instead, guests will reserve a 90-minute time slot via Resy for one of the bar's six tables, which seat a total of 22 guests. Masks will be required when guests are away from their tables; bartenders will be required to wear masks at all times.
With so much focus on the COVID-19 logistics inherent in opening right now, Wiggins has made sure not to lose sight of why he wanted to open Lazy Tiger in the first place. As he explains, he feels that the time is right for a new way of doing things at cocktail bars, and he's looking forward to ushering in a new era of drink service in St. Louis.
"For us, the name of the game is how to make the space and product more efficient with fewer people," Wiggins says. "We want an easier service. Cocktail bars can feel like there are so many logistics with bartenders touching seven bottles per cocktail they make. Guests aren't excited about that rigamarole. They'd rather have you pour a cocktail for them and talk to them about it for two minutes than spend that time making it. If you can get a really good cocktail with six ingredients in two minutes, people are going to start asking themselves why they have to wait fourteen."
To accomplish this, Wiggins and his team will approach Lazy Tiger like a kitchen. Extensive prep work will be done ahead of time so that, when the guest is ready for a drink, those cocktails will be ready to be poured, rather than needing to be made. He likens the experience to wine service, with the bartender acting as both vintner and sommelier.
Lazy Tiger's cocktail list will be divided by category, such as Negronis, Martinis, Clarifieds, Flips, Highballs, Sours and Spirit-Free. A selection of craft beers, natural wines and spirits will also be available, as will a small menu of food items, such as Calabrian crab dip and a short rib slab burger.
The bar will begin service tonight at 5 p.m. Moving forward, Lazy Tiger will be open Tuesday though Saturday from 5 to 10:30 p.m.
"If we can open and be something fun in a world of no fun — that's been our driving force since the shutdown," says Wiggins. "Something being born instead of being killed is good news, and really, having to rethink how we are gong to do things going from 36 to 22 seats has really allowed us to readdress our concept and actually improve it overall. We're now in a spot where we feel we are as strong as we can be."
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