Balaban's is headed back to the Central West End.
After almost a decade in Chesterfield, Missouri, the legendary restaurant is returning to the neighborhood where it originally opened (then under the name Café Balaban) in 1972. Owners Brian Underwood and Steve McIntyre announced the news in a press release this weekend. The partners also announced plans to retire and named a new owner of Balaban's: Karen Halper.
Under the agreement, Halper now owns the Balaban’s name, furniture and fixtures, but not the wine cellar and retail wine operation, which Underwood and McIntyre added to the Balaban's brand when they reopened the concept in Chesterfield in the fall of 2009. The extensive wine program helped Balaban's earn major wine awards including the coveted Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.
"I’m proud of the many restaurant and wine ratings, awards and accolades we received in Chesterfield from large and small publications including a Best of Award of Excellence from the international Wine Spectator," Underwood said in a statement. "We upheld the Balaban’s tradition and had fun doing it."
Balaban's will close doors at its current location at 1772 Clarkson Road in Chesterfield at the end of service on Sat., Aug. 10. Halper, who also owns a few other concepts in the Central West End including the Mahler Ballroom, Enchanting Embellishments, Mary Ann's Tea Room and Patty Long Catering, said the opening date for the new location will depend on how quickly building renovations are completed. She plans to reopen Balaban's at 412 Euclid Ave., directly across the street from the location of the original Café Balaban (now home to Up-Down Arcade Bar).
"As for me, I’m excited to return this iconic restaurant to its home in the Central West End," she said in a release. "We will offer the original café menu including Balaban’s signature dishes. Balaban’s current staff will have the opportunity to play a role in the new organization as we mesh my businesses into a larger whole and make use of the synergies between them. Balaban’s staff will have a chance to continue working with the Balaban’s brand and to grow."
For the uninitiated, Balaban’s started as Café Balaban, which Herb Balaban (known as "Carp") opened in the Central West End in 1972. The restaurant was modeled after a classic French bistro, serving fare like beef Wellington, duck a l'orange, crêpes and cucumber bisque. It quickly won acclaim from the late, great St. Louis Post-Dispatch restaurant critic Joe Pollack, who named it to the esteemed "Class of '72" list of restaurants that he said forever changed St. Louis dining.
Balaban’s, 412 N. Euclid Ave., Central West End, St. Louis, Missouri, 636.449.6700, balabanswine.com