Gerard Craft

Gerard Craft of Niche Food Group will serve as City Foundry's culinary director.

Buzz has been steadily building over the past few years for City Foundry STL, the upcoming mixed-use development in Midtown that will feature, among other things, a massive food hall and public market.

Now, the food hall has scored a major partner: James Beard Award winner Gerard Craft of Niche Food Group (Brasserie, BrasswellCinder House, Pastaria, Sardella, Taste) will serve as the concept's culinary director and consultant.

In a release, Craft said he was attracted to the project because City Foundry, which will be located on Forest Park Avenue between Vandeventer and Spring Street, will bridge together St. Louis' top cultural destinations and innovation community.

"We think that City Foundry is such an important puzzle piece to connect the city together," he said. "From downtown and Midtown to the Central West End and Cortex, City Foundry has the opportunity to bring all of those communities together. We see so much potential with the project that we wanted to be a part of making it succeed."

As culinary director, Craft will "further define the food hall experience," and Niche Food Group will help to curate the lineup of tenants. The restaurant group will also operate at least one or two concepts of its own at the food hall.

"Food halls in the U.S. have traditionally been solely focused on the consumption of food, but we have a collective vision for City Foundry STL to be seen as more than a food hall, but also as a public market, a place that supports food-focused entrepreneurs," Craft said. "In addition to emerging restaurant concepts, we want to celebrate the people who have helped connect us to food – the farmers and butcher suppliers, the potter who makes restaurants’ plates, or maybe even a cookbook stand or teaching kitchen that inspire chefs."

With that in mind, as the restaurant industry grapples with the fallout from COVID-19, the team at City Foundry hopes that the market can be a place to give the culinary community, including local chefs and restaurateurs as well as makers, artisans and suppliers, a "platform to rebuild."

"Our local hospitality industry defines the current culture and uniqueness of our city," City Foundry asset manager Will Smith said. "It’s also the most vulnerable during this time. Our hope is that City Foundry can be a place for ideas to incubate and grow into a viable business; a place where new concepts will be surrounded by industry leaders to learn from and succeed."

The development is currently under construction, with no official opening date as of yet. "We are rethinking what the dining and shopping experience could look like for the foreseeable future," Smith said. "We won’t open the doors until we have clarity on a safe and manageable way to do that."

City Foundry STL, 3700 Forest Park Ave., Midtown, St. Louis, Missouri, cityfoundrystl.com