Cohen Architecture Company
An artist's rendering of the new building on the former Del Taco site at 1033 McCausland.
A bulldozer was chewing away at the old Del Taco site at 1033 McCausland Ave today, so the owners of Sugarfire Smoke House figured it was time to let their latest project completely out of the bag (the P-D's Ian Froeb reported their interest nearly a year ago).
What's left of the former Naugles/Del Taco building at 1033 McCausland Ave.
We'd wager most 30 to 60-year-olds have a story or three about the late-night escapades at Del Taco, or its predecessor, Naugles, which SLM's Ann Lemons Pollack remembered fondly here. But we're not here to talk about the past...
SLM has learned new restaurant will be a fast casual burger and sandwich joint called the Hi-Pointe Drive In. (A hat tip to @forestparkowls for his keen eyes, alerting us to today's progress.)
One of the issues with the site was how best to use the existing building—and the answer was not to use it at all. Turns out it was cheaper to demo the old structure and start anew, which the group did, sort of, creating a new building from old shipping containers (as opposed to just cladding the old one).
The first anomaly is that the Drive In won’t be a drive-thru, per the requests of the neighborhood. Co-owner Mike Johnson confirmed the restaurant will be for dine-in, pick-up, and delivery only.
The group took inspiration from two of the most acclaimed sandwich counters in the country, Cochon Butcher in New Orleans and Au Cheval in Chicago. (The burger and fried bologna at the latter are alone worth the drive to Randolph Street.)
The menu will be a combination of sandwiches, house-cut fries, and flat-griddled burgers (similar to the one Johnson would make famous at a BBQ joint of all places). Breads will be baked on-site, and meats will be roasted in house and carved to order, similar to the service style at Sugarfire.
The 45-50 seat building is being designed by Tom Cohen of Cohen Architecture Company, one of the city’s most prolific restaurant architects (I Fratellini, SqWires, Cyrano’s Café, Bridge, Schlafly Tap Room, Katie’s Pizza & Pasta, Fitz’s, 1111 Mississippi, PW Pizza, Moulin event space, and the renovation of Vin de Set). The exterior will be fabricated using three, locally-sourced, recycled shipping containers, the building material du jour. A covered patio will be part of the design, and beer and wine will be served, furthering its appeal.
Johnson says the project will take four months to complete and to expect a streamlined operation, “simpler, faster, different, and less complicated" than Sugarfire. "If we use a smoker at all," he says, “it'll be a small one.”