“Wow! This place is a big deal.” That was the collective sentiment last night, as Westport Social opened its accordion doors for a sneak peek. And those gathered weren’t just referring to the 13,000-square-foot space, which holds 400–500 people (plus an additional 100 on the patio).
When Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM) bought the Westport complex five years ago, part of the design plan was to create an interactive restaurant that could accommodate the large influx of new office tenants. In conjunction with Atlanta’s Concentrics Restaurants, creators of more than a dozen one-of-a-kind venues across the country (including Three Sixty, Boundary, and Basso), LHM converted the former Westport Cine and Margarita Mama’s into a $5.5 million mega-complex of games, grub, and upscale beverages.
LHM loosely based Westport Social on similar concepts across the nation, cherry-picking what they thought would work best in the St. Louis market. While regulation bowling was a focus at Nashville’s Pinewood Social and Atlanta’s The Painted Pin, Westport Social combines three large-screen TVs with bocce ball, shuffleboard (regulation and tabletop), pop-a-shot-esque basketball, foosball, ping pong, darts, outdoor Snookball (a cross between pocket pool and soccer), an upstairs karaoke room, and a stage for live music on weekends.
When people first hear about the project, “they assume it will be like another Dave and Buster’s,” says general manager Blaise Pastoret, who has experience managing Three Sixty, Basso, and D. Rowe’s Restaurant & Bar in Columbia, Missouri. “It’s not—far from it. First, there’s no charge for any of the games. Games are part of the experience. Customers use chalkboards to sign up for all the games. It truly is one of a kind.”
Then there’s the food-and-beverage program. A second-level sommelier, Pastoret curated the short but unusual wine list, which includes 18 glass and bottle options, “all priced aggressively.”
La Spinetta Biancospino Moscato, for example, is $8 per glass and $32 per bottle; a bottle typically runs “$56 to $62 elsewhere,” says Pastoret. Von Winnings Riesling is $10 per glass, while “other places charge $14.” The Folle Blanche Pinot Noir is priced $14 per glass. “No one’s pouring this by the glass,” says Pastoret, adding that “nobody’s pouring [the Tokaji Furmint from Hungary] at all.”
Ace mixologist Kyle Mathis, formerly of Taste, spearheaded the cocktail program. Liters of custom cocktails will be available for $35–$45, and glasses will be $9–$10.
Similarly, the 20 craft beers on draft are curated by an on-staff certified cicerone and sold by the pint (for $4 to $8) and by the growler (for $16–$28).
“Having a level-two somm, a certified cicerone, and a bad ass bar manager under one roof,” says Pastoret, elevates Westport Social to another level.
Executive chef Chris Leith has assembled a menu of salads, skewers, pizza, tacos, sliders, shared plates, pizza, and sweets. Much of it is handheld food, perfect for a games-themed environment.
The upstairs mezzanine, with its rows of identical gold lights, beckons. Is it a private room or more fun and games? With identical 25-seat karaoke rooms separated by an accordion wall, it’s both. (The rooms are available to rent for $20 per half hour.) A sophisticated multi-camera system shows the performer on the big screen, music-video style. The recording can be easily emailed and posted on social media.
Several other semi-private areas can be reserved as well. One of them (designed for 50 guests) has one bocce ball court, two hoops courts, and one lane of shuffleboard. The facility was designed with mirror-image games. “Even though we may be hosting a private party, there’s always one side open,” explains LHM president and COO Steve O’Loughlin. “So if you’re hellbent on playing shuffleboard, it’s just a sign-up away.”
“It is unique enough that people will like it,” says LHM chairman and CEO Bob O’Loughlin, who’s also brought new life to Union Station, the Cheshire Inn, and Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark with memorable restaurants and attractions.
“We don’t want it to be another Trainwreck,” he says, referring to the longstanding Westport restaurant/bar Trainwreck Saloon, “or a train wreck. We want this train to be going down the tracks, fast.”
WESTPORT SOCIAL 910 Westport Plaza Dr., St. Louis, Missouri 63146 PHONE: (314) 548-2876 HOURS: Mon - Sat: 11 a.m. - 1 a.m., Sun: 11 a.m. - 12 a.m. Live music Fri and Sat, 8 p.m. to closing Visit Website
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