We reported last week that Mad Art Gallery owner Ron Buechele is planning to open a sustainable artisan barbecue restaurant in the gallery under the moniker Capitalist Pig. We caught up with him to get some more details on the new project:
"It's hard to describe it," says Buechele of the concept. "It's almost like an art project for me."
The restaurant is a labor of love, funded by Buechele and a couple of close friends. The way it'll work, he says, is that the gallery will turn into an eatery on weekdays, serving lunch from 11am to 2pm. Tables will be set up in the gallery and in the courtyard area as well.
Buechele says the project doesn't require a large cash outlay because Mad Art already has a commercial kitchen in place. Buechele will also be handling the cooking, a natural fit as he already fills the chef role in the gallery's catering business.
What sets Capitalist Pig apart from the barbecue crowd, according to Buechele, is the sustainable aesthetic behind it.
"Even the big boys, you go there and everything is Styrofoam and plastic; it's all about conspicuous consumption," he says. "It probably never occurred to them to use a heritage pig or use anything local. I thought barbecue could use a little facelift."
In addition to compostable containers and other items, Buechele says the restaurant will use bio-degradable cleaners and more energy-efficient lighting will be installed in the building, among other initiatives. The idea of sustainability is reflected in the food as well. Buechele, a self-described pork lover, says there's no single farmer who can supply his meat needs, so he's exploring Middendorf's Berkshire program, which would supply heritage pigs from a variety of producers.
"Not only would I know the names of the farmers who raised these hogs and the farms they were raised on, we can literally trace the pigs' lineage back 400 years to the original Berkshire herd," Buechele says.
Of course, the name sets the restaurant apart as well. Buechele says he came up with the name after throwing around some ideas with friends.
"We'd start playing the name game, thinking up the coolest name we could for a bar or restaurant," he says. Capitalist Pig was one of the ideas thrown into the mix, and Buechele immediately latched onto it.
"I Googled it, and all I could come up with was a hedge fund in Chicago, a radio show in Kansas City and a traveling barbecue thing," he says. "I couldn't believe nobody had grabbed that name. You can go in all different directions with it."
Some power and water issues still have to be worked out, but Buechele is hoping for an early August opening if all goes according to plan.
Capitalist Pig at Mad Art Gallery, 272 S. 12th Street, Soulard, 314.771.8230, madart.com