Brant Baldanza, co-owner/managing partner of The Corner Pub & Grill (2 locations) and also The Tavern Kitchen & Bar, raised an excellent point, one I've never considered: "Think about it," he said, "depending on their age, students at Mizzou have fond memories of several local restaurants--The Shack, The Heidelberg, Godfather's, Booche's--but there's no place like that, really, at SLU. Where do you return to years later? What place do you just have to revisit? We want to become that place."
With apologies to Gurpreet Padda and Ami Grimes (who fashioned Cafe Ventana and the newly opened Diablitos Cantina with a similar idea in mind), Baldanza is referring to his group's newest concept, The Shack Pub Grub, to be located at 3818 Laclede, the former home of Caleco's, Laclede Street, and Cheater's. (At this writing, Pierre Laclede's Pub & Eatery is still operational in the space, and although we're told the deal is "very close," it is not yet final.)
The concept will take popular, standard-issue pub food "and give it a chef-driven twist," according to Baldanza, with one important difference: "The pricing will still be like a neighborhood bar and grill." Translation: right in the wheelhouse of the target market--SLU students.
Rising star and co-owner of The Tavern, Chef Justin Haifley, will provide the twists...we remind you that it was The Tavern (SLM's 2011 Restaurant of the Year) that introduced us to Truffle Mushroom Mac N' Cheese, Foie Pockets, and Baked Artichoke Ravioli Dip. At The Shack, expect Haifley to make similar tweaks on college favorites like pizza, chicken wings, and flat-grilled burgers. Who knows, "shackin' up" may even take on a whole new meaning...
The Shack Pub Grub will open about the same time returning SLU students tire of dorm food, which is usually around Labor Day, two weeks into the fall semester.