Wednesday, September 4, 2013 / 10:20 AM
The Culpepper’s in Creve Coeur closed a few weeks ago, and yesterday the RFT confirmed the Kirkwood location would follow suit, closing its doors today.
Steve Gontram, owner of 5 Star Burgers in Clayton, had been looking for a second location for months and when Culp’s in Kirkwood became available, he didn’t hesitate.
“The Clayton 5 Star became more family-oriented than we thought it would,” Gontram admitted, “so when a prime location materialized in Kirkwood, we jumped on it...it made perfect sense.” Especially true since ample parking spaces cradle the building, a rarity in downtown Kirkwood.
Combine the family aspect with the fact that “there is no Kirkwood restaurant totally focused on burgers,” and the decision “was an easy one,” Gontram said.
The chef/owner says the menu will be similar to Clayton's, although the larger kitchen will allow for more experimentation, a testing ground for items that may get incorporated into both menus.
One aspect that will change is the attention paid to beer. Gontram (at right, and the subject of this 2012 Q&A) noted that for its size, the Clayton location "sells a lot of beer," with further sales limited by the lack of refrigerated space. The Kirkwood location will have a cooler dedicated solely to beer, which means 18 beers on tap--all local--and the option to offer more in bottles. Gontram emphasized--and at the same time de-emphasized--the attention to beer, noting that 5 Star has developed into exactly what he hoped it would be, that is, "a restaurant, rather than a bar that happens to serve food."
The building (below) has 2600 SF upstairs (slightly bigger than the Clayton space) and the same amout of square footage downstairs (the flagship Culpepper’s in the CWE has a similar up/down floor plan). The downstairs will allow for spillover dining when needed, as well as a space to hold private events.
Gontram expects to close on the property within one week’s time.
The 90-day renovation won't be a full-fledged gut rehab, just enough newness to create an environment that will, in his words, "tie it to Clayton." The last thing Gontram wants is for a customer to walk into the new 5 Star and say, "gee, this place looks just like the old Culpepper's."
Gontram photo by Kevin A. Roberts
Subscribe to Relish posts in your favorite feed reader.