Nick and Audra Luedde have been looking to open a restaurant in St. Louis for the better part of a year. Their concept had been well thought out, a name--Verona--had been chosen...there was even a rather complete Facebook page that spelled out all the details. All they needed was a location.
The couple appear to have found one, as well as a top-notch chef, Josh Galliano, to run it.
In a press release received this morning, Nick Luedde spelled out the plans for the restaurant--now called "the Libertine." The release called the restaurant "a reimagined Neighborhood Eatery," and although a lease has yet to be signed, Relish has learned that it is imminent, so we'll go ahead and announce that if all parties sign on the dotted line, the Libertine will take over the space at 7927 Forsyth, the location vacated by Chez Leon last May.
In short and in my words, the Libertine will be a small, affordable, and unpretentious small-plates focused neighborhood restaurant, one that's owned and operated by an All-Star team. Nick and Audra Luedde (he's a St. Louis native, she's from Central Illinois) are both sommeliers who worked alongside each other at The Tasting Room in Chicago. Nick was named "Chicago's Best Sommelier" and "Best Mixologist-Midwest" among his many other accolades. Galliano's name is better known in these parts, especially having been named "Food & Wine's People's Choice Best New Chef: Midwest" earlier this year. For more on the culinary focus and the beverage program at the Libertine, the P-D's Evan Benn was the first to break the news, and provides further details here.
The Libertine is scheduled to open this spring.