Food, Wine & Spirits in St. Louis

Thursday, March 29, 2012 / 11:57 AM

Blood & Sand Hits Milestone: Caps Full Memberships, Accepts Partials

Placed rather inconspicuously and nonchalantly at the bottom of a recent membership email, the owners of Blood & Sand announced that, on April 1, they will be capping full memberships and thereafter "offering a limited amount of weekday-only memberships that will serve as a waiting list for the full membership."

In other words, in six months, the ownership trio of Adam Frager, TJ Vytlacil, and Exec Chef Chris Bork have reached their target number of full-time members, a number that hovers around 650.

I remind you that we are speaking of Blood & Sand here: the restaurant that was criticized pre- and post-opening for having the gall to promote itself as a dues-paying "Member's Only" supper club; the place that some thought was begging for a one-two knockout punch by opening up downtown and on St. Charles Street (read: NOT on Wash Ave); the place that some poo-poo'd for what amounts to a polite and civilized Terms and Conditions of Membership; the place that the naysayers said just sounded a bit too self-absorbed and a bit too slick. 

Oh yeah?

Well, the people have spoken. And joined. In droves. Anyone who has been there understands. And anyone who hasn't been there still has a few days to book a "look see" reservation before joining. And that, dear readers, is today's recommendation. You'll be glad to know that none of the tags associated with private clubs--snobby, snotty, elitist, self-important--apply here.

No one is more surprised with Blood & Sand's rapid success than Adam Frager, who thought it would take far longer to reach membership targets. When Blood & Sand was but a scribble on a cocktail napkin, the goal for viability was 400 members--it reached that in the first three months. It was then determined that the maximum number would be allowed to float upwards "until a weekend table got hard to book," according to Frager, who added that "we want members to be able to count on reserving a table when they want a table."

Frager was similarly amazed at how far-reaching the membership was. "We caught the attention of a lot of out-of-towners doing business in St. Louis," he said, "many from out of state and out of the country. Four of our more consistent members live in Canada."

Perhaps it will be this demographic that will take advantage of the 150-200 additional weeknight-only memberships, or maybe it will be local diners simply trying to edge their way into a full-time membership. Weeknight-only dues are cheaper ($10/month) than full-membership, and chances are there will be some attrition of full-time members at renewal time.

Or maybe not: a recent wine dinner sold out within 24 hours, even before Bork's menu was posted.

Blood & Sand has been blessed with good local press (the P-D's Joe Bonwich gave it a 3-star review, an honor only bestowed on a handful of other restaurants), but to date has received little national attention. Doesn't really matter. It remains one of the city's recent restaurant success stories.

To investigate further, check out the website here. And should you ever get there for dinner, this member says don't miss the homemade tater tots.

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