After shutting its doors as a failed grocery market earlier this year, the iconic Busch’s Grove will reopen as a restaurant and retail venue in early November. Frank Gabriele, owner of Il Bell Ago in Creve Coeur, his brother Carmelo and an unnamed partner are the new owners of this landmark property.
“We’re going to serve the finest ingredients, but we’re not going to be a place where people have to worry if they can afford it,” Frank said. “We’re going to give people a comfortable place to relax with outstanding food, a place where families can come in and have a comfortable dinner or people can come on a date.”
While the exterior of the renowned façade will remain the same, Frank said. The entrance will be moved back, and the 13,000-square-foot site will be divided into a more manageable 8,000 square feet for the restaurant, similar in size to the current ll Bel Ago, with a retail tenant occupying the remainder of the space. The retail section will be in the northern part of the building where the old bar was, closest to Clayton Road.
Some of the planned changes include a large U-shaped bar next to a coal-burning pizza oven area with casual seating. Longtime patrons will remember former the area by the maitre d’s station which will be turned into an outdoor dining patio, pending city approval. In addition, there will be a nice dining room and quite a few private dining rooms for meetings and rehearsal dinners.
“We want to be the place where residents say ‘That’s where we’re going for dinner,’” Frank said. “Where people can come in for a light dinner as well as something more formal.”
He said it had never crossed his mind to open a second place, but when the Busch’s Grove opportunity was presented to him and his brother, they were very interested.
“I have always been a big fan of Busch’s Grove, its history and what it means to St. Louis,” Frank said. “I believe it’s the best location in all of St. Louis.”
He said that they hope to incorporate photos of the original restaurant in the new iteration, and while the new owners don’t plan on calling the restaurant Busch’s Grove they may include the old name somewhere in the new one.
The new restaurant will be open Mondays through Friday for lunch and Mondays through Saturdays for dinner, closing on Sundays.
Stay tuned to Ladue-Frontenac Patch during the coming months as we bring you photos of the progress of the building’s transformation.
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