Botanical Heights has a new specialty market and tea shop. AO&Co. debuted on June 6 from Ben Poremba of Bengelina Hospitality Group (Elaia, Olio, Nixta, The Benevolent King and La Patisserie Chouquette).
“It’s many things all at once. It’s a specialty food store, a gift store, a wine and cheese shop, and a tea shop with a really nice coffee machine,” Poremba says.
As reported by Feast last year, the concept – which gets its name from Poremba's children, Aviv, Omri and Cossette – offers everything from private-label olive oil, retail wine and cigars to artisan gift items, fresh flowers and prepared foodstuffs such as Olio’s famous egg salad.
“If you want to throw a picnic together, we have the things to make that happen,” Poremba says. “If you want to cook a nice meal and look for great pasta and tomato sauce or if you want to come in and buy a gift for a dinner party like cigars, a bottle of wine or a nice platter, we have that here, too. It’s like a new old general store or bodega in that regard.”
AO&Co. fills an approximately 1,200-square-foot space, with a handful of seats inside the market and café areas and an expansive patio with an additional 20 seats. Kory Waschick of Let’s Create Space collaborated on the interior design, which features drop tin ceilings, vinyl floors and the juxtaposition of industrial and antique elements.
Highlights from the market’s set of curated offerings include Olio private label olive oil, salsas from Nixta and harissa and preserved lemons from The Benevolent King. Additional offerings include a cigar selection curated by Kevin Brennan of Brennan’s as well as wine, spirits and beer selected by the sommelier team at Elaia.
On the cafe side, choose from a selection of Firepot Tea and Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Co. drinks as well as rotating pastries including croissants and sticky buns from La Patisserie Chouquette. Occasionally, guests may even find cookies and more made by Poremba’s mother, including coffee cake and seeded clusters.
“It’s a very community-driven concept,” Poremba says. “We really thought something was lacking in our little neighborhood. There are already a lot of really great restaurants and we just wanted the community to enjoy something a little different.”
AO&Co.’s retail store hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 10am to 7pm, Friday through Saturday from 10am to 10pm and Sunday from 10am to 7pm. Its cafe is open Tuesday through Thursday from 7am to 7pm, Friday from 7am to 10pm, Saturday from 10am to 10pm and Sunday from 10am to 5pm.
AO&Co., 1641 Tower Grove Ave., Botanical Heights, St. Louis, Missouri, bengelina.com