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Bad news comes in threes, you say? Sure was true on the local restaurant scene this week.
Yesterday, Relish announced the closing of 18-month-old Brazikat; earlier today we announced the demise of 18-year-old Harvest; and tonight comes word that Tripel Brasserie will close its doors Saturday night, after a one-year run. (Ironically, the restaurant celebrated its first anniversary last week.)
Tripel is owned by Jim Darst, Terry Oliver, and its exec chef, Max Crask. In a time of find-a-niche restaurants, it was the first Belgian-themed restaurant in the area, designed to resemble an authentic Old World brasserie from the 30s. In a Q&A with Crask, we were impressed with the chef's pedigree and his sense of humor (Sample question and answer: If you weren’t a chef, what would you be? Dead. Cooking long hours keeps me out of trouble.)
We also thought that in beer-crazy St. Louis, the combination of Belgian food and European craft beer a pretty nifty idea. In a First Bite from September 2013, we were similarly impressed: at the time we commented that “tripels [the beers] tend to improve with age,” and trusted this to be an omen for the eponymous brasserie. Unfortunately, such was not the case.
It may have been a case of too little, too late. Although the unusually harsh winter did not impact Tripel as it did most of the other restaurants in the area, when the weather broke (traditionally a turning point for restaurants), Tripel’s business level did not increase. Oliver stopped short of blaming the sluggishness on the popularity of Ballpark Village, but did admit “it probably didn’t help matters much.” The partners made the angst-filled decision to close on Tuesday. Today, Oliver shook his head: since then, the restaurant has been having near-record days.
Oliver said that regardless, Tripel’s sheer size—218 seats—had a lot to do with it. “We had high rent, high utilities, high everything…” Oliver said. “The food was good, the place looks great…we were just not able to stay ahead of it.”
Tripel, most of the city hardly knew ye. And that's a shame. Last day of service is Saturday, June 14. Grab a Belgian Tripel and a first (or final) look before then.