Food, Wine & Spirits in St. Louis

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 / 11:05 AM

The Frontenac Grill Shutters, Mike Del Pietro Takes Over Space

The Frontenac Grill Shutters, Mike Del Pietro Takes Over Space

The Frontenac Grill closed its doors on Sunday, June 30, after a two-year run; uber restaurateur Mike Del Pietro purchased the lease and will take over the space (his Q&A in SLM is here). The latter may come as a surprise, the former not so much.

Relish readers will remember how Mike Faille (owner/founder of Talayna’s fame) took over what was once a Coco’s/Reuben’s at the corner of Conway and Lindbergh Boulevard in Frontenac, with designs of turning it into a Frank Sinatra-themed restaurant/bar, called Old Blue Eyes.

In a series of often amusing articles, we followed the slow progress of the restaurant, from its inception to a forced name change, to the hiring of a chef, to Mike Faille’s heart attack a week before opening, to his unexpected death days before opening, and the decision by his family to open the restaurant as planned.

The Frontenac Grill hired experienced and talented chefs (Andrew Ladlie, who now owns Sassy Jac’s in Soulard, and David Timney, formerly of Balaban’s, now with Molly’s in Soulard), but the restaurant never seemed to gain momentum. One miscue was its price point. Talaynas’ pastas were moderately priced, those at Frontenac Grill were not. And the steaks were priced on par with legendary Kreis’ Steakhouse & Bar, just up the street, a questionable business decision.

When the menu content and the prices were finally moderated a few months ago, it was probably too late. A restaurant lives and dies with its initial perception.

Del Pietro (in white shirt at right with brother Marc and mother Mary Rose) owns a passel of Italian-themed restaurants, two of them (Sugo’s Spaghetteria and Via Vino Enotica) located just minutes from the Frontenac Grill. Not surprisingly, he says the new restaurant will have a different theme—and “definitely not Italian.” Rather, the new restaurant will focus on American comfort cuisine (think fried chicken and BBQ) and be family-friendly, with a reasonable price point, one similar to Sugos’.

The vibe will be homey and rustic, with reclaimed wood replacing “all that glass, glitter, and marble,” as Del Pietro put it. He said construction should begin within 30 days, which translates to a mid-fall opening.  

The restaurant—his eighth—is yet unnamed. He may even let his kids name the new eatery, which, he said “could prove to be interesting.”

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