Lola Jean’s Serves Breakfast and Lunch (and Now Pickup Pizza) with a Side of Philanthropy
While its vibe feels laid-back and easygoing, Lola Jean’s in SoHa goes all out to celebrate what is so incredible about St. Louis, from the individuals who make up its diverse neighborhoods to the nonprofits and charities that keep it running strong.
The café and coffee shop has plans to launch dinner service this summer featuring pizza and Italian fare—and it’s giving customers a taste of what’s to come with a take-and-bake pizzas that can be ordered online and picked up on Thursdays, starting April 9.
Since opening Lola Jean’s in 2018, chef Russell Ping and his wife, Emily, have put community first. Two years ago, the café was little more than a pop-up coffee shop to fill the space of what was planned to become a companion pizzeria to the Pings’ renowned restaurant, Russell’s on Macklind. One hundred percent of the profits from the pop-up eatery, which featured Kaldi’s coffee and Russell’s pastries, went directly to charities in St. Louis.
The menu and the mission became so popular that in 2019 the Pings transformed Lola Jean’s, which is named after their daughter, into a permanent café and community gathering spot offering a full breakfast and lunch menu.
“We opened Lola Jean’s as a temporary coffee shop until we had our pizza concept dialed in,” explains Ping. “The community response was so overwhelming that we just kept progressing our café experience for breakfast and lunch. We have plans to roll out dinner service this summer while maintaining the coffee shop and café during the day. Our timeline may change, but we think take-and-bake pizzas will be a great introduction to the future of Lola Jean’s.”
The Sicilian “upside-down” pizza is a thick crust square pizza, similar to focaccia. Each pizza is served in a quarter sheet pan and feeds two or three people. The menu is simple: two customizable pizzas (one with a red sauce and one with a white sauce) plus a variety of toppings like Volpi pepperoni, housemade Italian sausage, smoked bacon or red onion. There are also combination pizzas like the Bianca with smoked mozzarella, bechamel, oregano, Parmigiano Reggiano and breadcrumbs. Two desserts are available for online ordering too: pot de crème with dark chocolate custard and whipped cream or butterscotch pudding (budino).
Even with the new pizzas on the menu, Lola Jean’s sweets, including muffins, scones and cookies, and its heartier breakfast options may continue to take center stage for a while. For instance, you can choose a breakfast burrito loaded with green chili scrambled eggs and braised pork carnitas or their vegetarian avocado and Calabrian chili toast. If pancakes are more your breakfast jam, Ping’s sourdough version is topped with house-made salted honey butter and cranberry-orange marmalade.
Lola Jean’s lunch menu features an array of salads and sandwiches, such as Russell’s Club with roasted turkey and Wenneman bacon or an apricot preserve- and brie-topped twist on a traditional pork tenderloin. For vegans, the white bean hummus sandwich with toasted walnut pesto and herb salad is a hard-to-resist lunch option.
Even with its growth, Lola Jean’s continues to focus on the needs of local charities; it donated more than $10,000 in its first year of business alone. Moving forward, it’s partnering with nonprofits through different avenues, including giveback days, holiday tie-ins and after-hours events, to help these worthwhile organizations fulfill their own missions. Interested charities will soon be able to submit a partnership proposal through the Lola Jean’s website.
And the take-and-bake pizzas make a difference too. Ping will donate $1 from every pizza to the Gateway Resilience Fund. “We understand it’s a small gesture, but we wanted to do something. The sale of the pizzas will also allow us to keep our core staff employed during this difficult time,” says Ping.
5400 Nottingham Ave.
[Editor’s note: As of the publication date, Lola Jean’s and Russell’s were closed for dine-in service, but the two sister restaurants are collaborating on a brunch menu for curbside pickup and delivery. Please continue to check in with the restaurant for updates.]
Featured image courtesy of Russel Ping.
Image courtesy of Aida Hasanovic.