Early next year, a St. Louis institution will have a new home and a slightly new concept.
Kemoll's plans to close its iconic Downtown St. Louis location and reopen at 323 Westport Plaza, as first reported by St. Louis Magazine. Known for high-end Italian fare, Kemoll's is also one of the oldest family-owned restaurants in the city; the restaurant first opened its doors on North Grand Boulevard, just a few blocks away from the old Sportsman's Park, in 1927.
Kemoll's relocated to its current home, in the lobby of the Metropolitan Square building in Downtown St. Louis, in 1990. In 2003, the restaurant expanded its Downtown location to include the Top of the Met banquet facility on the 42nd floor of the same building. Now, the family is ready to make another move.
"We’ve been in this city for 91 years and we just felt it was a change that would be good for us for the next 30 years," owner Mark Cusumano says. "Westport has been just totally revitalized by Bob O’Loughlin and his company, WorldWide Technologies, just built a huge building out there and all the restaurants are kind of jamming."
Kemoll's will operate in its current home until January 31. Cusumano says work on the Westport location is already underway, so he's hopeful they can have the doors open there in February. At 8,000 square feet, the new location is slightly smaller than the Downtown space, with room for around 120 diners, plus a banquet room that can seat 60.
The new location will also make way for a rebranding of the concept into Kemoll's Chop House. Cusumano says the decision was an easy one: Out of the eight best-selling dishes on the Kemoll's menu, six are from the grill, including steaks, chops and fish. "We still do a lot of Italian food, but it seems like the majority of what we’re doing is steaks and chops," he says. "So we’re going to open more of a chop house and retain maybe about 12 of our most popular Italian dishes."
To that end, expect to see the return of favorites like Chef's Dan Lasagna, cannelloni, Penne Molica, beef tenderloin risotto and seafood risotto. Longtime diners can also rest assured that the appetizer menu (including the famous fried artichokes) will remain largely the same.
"It’s just exciting going to a new place and designing a restaurant and designing the kitchen," Cusumano says. "Before I made this decision, I went out there a couple Mondays and Tuesdays just to see how things were going…I mean, I walked in Westport Social on a Monday night and there must have been 500 people there. I eat lunch at the Trainwreck about three times a week and that place is rocking. They’ve got the office occupancy at 97 percent which is amazing, you know? Westport is so alive."
Kemoll's Chop House, 323 Westport Plaza, Maryland Heights, Missouri, kemolls.com