Food, Wine & Spirits in St. Louis

Saturday, December 28, 2013 / 12:15 PM

Clayton Loses Two Restaurants: One Existing, The Other in the Planning Stages

Clayton Loses Two Restaurants: One Existing, The Other in the Planning Stages

'Tis the season for rejoicing, renewal, resolutions, and closings.  

Last week Ben Stratton, owner of two Stratton's Cafes, one in Webster Groves and the other in Clayton at 176 Carondelet Plaza (left), decided to pull the plug on the latter, while across town, Relish learned that Jim Edmonds' deal to put Edmonds Parkside Grill into the former Finale space inside Clayton on the Park, had headed south as well.

Stratton opened the flagship cafe in Webster in 2003, added the Clayton location five years layer, and almost a year ago today, launched FitFuel 365, a line of refrigerated, grab-and-go, three-meal-a-day food items, initially running the new business out of the Stratton's in Clayton, where there was ample space to prep and cook hundreds of single-serve meals. The plan was to add smaller, FitFuel storefronts, with the Clayton Stratton's acting as commissary for them all. And all appeared to be going to plan. A satellite FitFuel opened in the Mercy Cafe at Mercy Hospital earlier this year, and just a month ago, Stratton opened a stand-alone store at 11742 Manchester. (The FitFuel concept, successful in other markets across the country, even garnered some ink in the January 2014 SLM feature on healthy eating, an issue that just hit newsstands.)

Although Stratton was unavailable for comment this morning, it appears that FitFuel 365 may be history as well: this morning, a sign in the just-opened-but-vacated Des Peres store (right) reads "Temporarily Closed," and restaurant followers all know what that means.

In retrospect, Stratton's in Clayton suffered from being a destination place: the Carondelet location was far enough away from Clayton's central core to be out of walking distance for most office dwellers. And although there was a huge garage adjacent, the issue of "but there's no parking" would come up in discussions about the breakfast-and-lunch-only restaurant.

Stratton, an experienced restaurateur who's also an ordained minister, was succinct regarding the cafe's demise: 

Across town at Clayton on the Park (left) the situation is murkier. In August, Relish announced that if all went well with the city of Clayton, ex-Cardinal Jim Edmonds and business partner Mark Winfield would open Edmonds Parkside Grill in the former Finale/Smith & Slay’s space on the ground floor of the 24-story high-rise on the corner of Bonhomme and Brentwood, ideally by year’s end. Last we checked, Clayton had given its blessing, and despite some delays (and Edmonds and Co. opening another restaurant, The Precinct, in October), the Parkside Grill was slated to open in spring 2014.

A reliable source tells Relish today that the parties involved (The Koman Group and Edmonds’ group) could not agree on final terms and plans for the restaurant have been scrapped. A press release outlining the details of the split is forthcoming.    

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