Openings and Closings: Robust Heads To Edwardsville With Hendricks BBQ Close Behind

 In Food
Image courtesy of Robust.

Image courtesy of Robust.

Mon., Aug. 19: Hot Aztec, the bright fuchsia food truck that has served tasty Mexican eats since January 2012, opened a brick-and-mortar location on Monday at 1914 Bowles Ave. in Fenton. Formerly their commissary space, co-owners Rob and Dana Gardaphe built it out as a grab-and-go weekday lunch destination for surrounding Fenton businesses (it does have seating for 30 as well). For now, the menu served at the Fenton location will be the same as what has been offered by the truck. However, as the owners take a few weeks off the road to focus on the storefront launch, you can expect to see some new items pop up. The truck will return to the streets again in September.

Thu., Aug. 22: Tomorrow is opening day for Robust in Edwardsville. The third iteration of Stanley and Arlene Browne’s wine bar, shop and cafe is located at 126 N. Main St., the former home of Erato on Main. Diners can expect the same fabulous food-and-wine-pairing-focused menu found at the Webster Groves and Downtown locations, with a few special creations exclusive to the new spot. Brendan Hickham, formerly of Demun Oyster Bar and Salt, will be running the day-to-day show in Edwardsville, with sous chef Ben Rudis and sommelier Byron Bieirmann—an E-town native back from a stint at the St. Regis Aspen Resort in Colorado—by his side. Dinner will be served Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with lunch service added next week.

September 2013: Derek and Lucas Gamlin, owners of SubZero Vodka Bar, have been very busy boys. Next month will see the opening of two new destinations by the Gamlins: A steak and whiskey mecca called Gamlin Whiskey House (in the former Liluma location in the CWE) and a desperately needed tiki bar called Tahaa Twisted Tiki (in the former Premium Lounge spot in The Grove). Gamlin Whiskey House will be a traditional steakhouse with a modern twist, incorporating many Southern charms, such as kale salad and fried chicken. Perhaps the most charming of its Southern qualities is its focus on bourbon, with plans for six taps dedicated to dispensing hand-selected barrels. Down in The Grove, Tahaa Twisted Tiki will serve up classic French-Polynesian cocktails and kabobs grilled up on the bar’s patio, which will be outfitted with a fire pit, tiki torches and its own outdoor bar.

Early 2014: On July 22, we reported on the next collaboration between EdgeWild owners Andy and Dee Dee Kohn and restaurant consultant extraordinaire, Chris LaRocca: WildSmoke, an upscale barbecue concept built on the success of EdgeWild’s Smokin’ Sundays events. The forthcoming restaurant has finally been given a home. It will occupy the former Culpepper’s Grill & Bar space at 12316 Olive Blvd. in Creve Coeur. An opening date is not yet set, but look for WildSmoke to open early next year.

Summer 2014: On Aug. 6, we reported that Hendricks BBQ in St. Charles added a weekends-only backyard eatery to the establishment called Lil’ Willies’ Backyard BBQ. But now the restaurant is expanding in a much bigger way by duplicating the success of Hendricks across the river in Edwardsville. Hendricks Smokehouse will be located inside a 15,000-square-foot building at 1201 N. Main Street (former location of Rusty’s Restaurant) and will feature the must-have favorites in addition to higher-end barbecue, such as house-smoked pastrami, steaks and game. While the bar selection will be comprehensive, the spirit of choice will be whiskey, with a micro-distillery on site and a whiskey club. Owners envision the space as a “barbecue barn,” seating 250-300 diners and offering banquet facilities as well as two patios in front of the building—each with its own fireplace—and one in the back that will be large enough to accommodate live music performances.


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