A dynamic duo recently teamed up to take over the kitchen at The Silver Ballroom in St. Louis. Party Bear Pizza and Tiny Chef opened in April at the popular Bevo Mill pinball bar, serving up personal pizzas, Korean-style street food and other specialties such as The Khaleesi, a Korean-inspired pizza.
The concept comes from partners Chris Ward and Melanie Meyer: Ward grew up in Rushville, Illinois, where his family has owned popular pizza spot Pizza Unlimited since 1995. Meanwhile, Meyer brings nearly 20 years of industry experience to the table, serving up a menu inspired by the cuisine of Korea, where she was born.
Who exactly are the Party Bear and Tiny Chef? We’re kind of two restaurants in one, in a way. I run the Party Bear Pizza side and offer made-from-scratch personal pizzas to eat [on-site] and 12-inch frozen pizzas to take home and bake if you’re just feeling like a night on the couch – no Provel, ever, only whole-milk mozzarella. Melanie is Tiny Chef, and she offers amazing, always fresh, Korean-inspired street food: tacos, bibimbap bowls, housemade kimchi and more. –Chris Ward
What inspired you to partner up and create these concepts? Chris has been wanting to bring his family’s style of pizza to St. Louis for a long time. Previously, I was a line cook at Lulu’s Local Eatery, and even though I absolutely loved it there, I’ve been wanting to cook my own recipes as Tiny Chef – a nickname given to me by my friend, chef Ben Welch – for years. We’re both huge pinball nerds and were always at The Silver Ballroom, and the kitchen space just happened to open up. We worked out a deal with the owners, Doc and Shelly Dachroeden, and it was just the perfect timing, vibe and part of the city we were hoping to operate in. We’re really grateful for The Silver Ballroom. Tacos, pizza, pinball, punk rock, PBR – what else could you want? –Melanie Meyer
Tell us about the reception so far. The response has been incredibly positive. It’s been great to not only cook for our friends at The Silver Ballroom, but also see people come in who never even knew this amazing bar was here. It’s even more fun to hear people say, “I haven’t been here in years!” People are happy to see that we have vegetarian and vegan options. The weekends have been busiest, naturally, but we get really poppin’ on Wednesday nights, as well, because that’s Pinball League night. It’s a fun, welcoming and uniquely south St. Louis atmosphere. It’s like being part of a big, amazing family. We still feel like a well-kept secret in some ways, but word is starting to spread. –M.M. and C.W.
Party Bear Pizza and Tiny Chef, 4701 Morganford Road (inside The Silver Ballroom), Bevo Mill, St. Louis, Missouri, facebook.com/partybearpizzaandtinychef