Back in October, RFT Music reported that Plush would be opening "next month," which is new-club code for "we'll let you know when we know." Owner Maebelle Reed has been laboring to get the club off the ground for more than two years, but renovating the 40,000 square foot behemoth hasn't been a walk in the park. "The recipes are ready, the liquor has been ordered, we're ready. We just keep running into these little complications." Reed doesn't have a final date in mind, but says they're waiting on a few final details, and if pressed, they could be open "in two days."
Reed, a St. Louis native, owns another Plush in Tucson, which has been thriving for eleven years. Since she bought the building at 3224 Locust two years ago, the development in the area has increased exponentially, and she's excited to be a part of the neighborhood's ontogeny. Talent buyer Kris Kerry moved to St. Louis a year ago to immerse himself in the local scene -- he's been booking shows at the Plush in Tucson since the going rate for the Decemberists was $200.
"St. Louis is a much bigger town, it's three times bigger than Tucson, which makes some things more difficult. There's more competition. We have so many people that want to play Plush in Tucson, it's gotten hard to get booked there." He says he's willing to book anything and everything at Plush, whether it's punk or polka. "It'd be fun to get a Klezmer band in here, or a polka night," says Kerry, joking with executive chef David Zimmerman about lederhosen and house-made sausages. "You can't book the same show every night. You gotta rely on different crowds and people who like different types of music...I do think that people who come here to see a show will come back to eat breakfast."
Kerry believes that Plush will become the logical catchall for national bands who can't yet fill the Pageant, but draw too many people for Off Broadway and the Firebird. "There are several cool smaller venues in town, but we're not really going to be competing for many shows because our capacity is in between them and the Pageant. There hasn't been a midsize venue; we're going to be between seven-and-eight-hundred. This is the logical next step," said Kerry, for bands who can draw more than 500 bodies. Even so, Kerry says that a show that pulls 100 to 200 people "won't feel empty" at Plush like at other clubs.
So far, Plush has Blind Pilot on March 2, Hot Chelle Rae on May 3 and "a lot of holds" on the schedule, as well as Javier Mendoza the week before Valentine's Day and Funky Butt Brass Band. Kerry said ticket prices in St. Louis are really reasonable compared to other markets, and he plans to keep it that way, charging around $6 for local shows, and $7-10 for national artists. "If it means another 40 people come in the door, it's better for us and them anyway.
The space is massive, each floor is about 10,000 square feet, which the Plush team has outfitted in a variety of styles and moods -- impassive high-backed booths and animal print stools in the main room, low-slung pastel couches and settees in the dining room-lounge area. The large second floor offers an unparalled view of the stage, smoking porch, wraparound bar, vintage couches and a handful of theatre seats scavenged from an old movie house. The first floor bathrooms are complete with a Velvet Underground-inspired banana in the men's and hand-painted cherries in the ladies'.
The beer list at Plush features twenty drafts, more than 55 bottles and cans, and they already have relationships with Six Row Brewing Company, Urban Chestnut and Schlafly. "How many single-malts do we have?" asks Zimmerman. "Like 25? You can never have enough. All kinds of whiskeys, bourbons and ryes. A lot of places are geared towards young people, this is geared toward everybody. You can get anything from Stag to a 25 year single malt."