Empire Cafe Will Turn Old Shipping Containers into Street Food Cafe On Cherokee

Categories: Restaurant News

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Killeen Studio Architects
An artist rendering of Empire Cafe.
In the spring of 2014, a vacant lot at the corner of Cherokee Street and Texas Avenue is slated to become St. Louis' first international street-food-themed restaurant, Empire Cafe (2622 Cherokee Street). The project comes from area developer Jason Deem and chef Colleen Clawson (previously of Sidney Street Cafe, Great Restaurants Incorporated and Venice Cafe), who will serve as the restaurant's executive chef and general manager. The space has a strong emphasis on smart design, developed by Killeen Studio Architects, which has worked on hospitality projects including the Cheshire hotel and restaurant expansion, the Ballpark Hilton Club Lounge and La Vallesana restaurant renovation.

See also: Chef's Choice: Colleen Clawson

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Google Maps
The future home of Empire Cafe.

The cafe aims to serve as a community hub for the neighborhood with an elaborate outdoor mezzanine as well as an open rooftop patio. The small interior will have counter seating and stools for 12 to 20 individuals, while the exterior intends to hold up to 100 seats. Much of the building's structure will come from repurposed shipping containers that have made their way in from all over the world, keeping with the international theme.

Hours for the restaurant will eventually run from lunch until late night, serving alcohol until 1:30 a.m. Initially, though, Clawson hopes to open for breakfast service.

While developing the menu, Clawson says, that in addition to an emphasis on sustainability, seasonal availability and health consciousness, a main focus is ensuring that menu items are easily transportable and affordable.

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Killeen Studio Architects
"It'll be a rotating menu...It's going to be a more concept-driven thing as opposed to necessarily having the same menu items all the time," says Lawson. "I'm going to be drawing influences from all over the world: South Asian, African, South American, regional American and European."

Build out for Empire Cafe will begin in coming weeks. In the meantime, follow Empire Cafe on Facebook. More as we learn it.

Click through to see a few more artist renderings by Killeen Studio Architects.


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20 comments
Dan Jaboor
Dan Jaboor

It's such a great idea to copy the part of Citygarden that didn't work out.

Jason Goad
Jason Goad

Container construction can be done a million diffrent ways. Anything from portable living quarters that Amanda is more than likely referring to. Up to Very nice multi level homes complete with air conditioning. I've been a fan of container homes for a long time.

Daniel Knoll
Daniel Knoll

these things are like ovens in the sun.. don't envy any workers there this coming summer ...

Lisa Corley Davis
Lisa Corley Davis

I love love love that St. Louis is getting on the repurposed structure bandwagon. Long overdue. Cherokee is the perfect spot for this sort of revitalization. Props to all involved!

Matt Higgins
Matt Higgins

Surrounded by ghetto, unlike the artists rendering!

Eliza45
Eliza45

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JoJo Prapaisilapa
JoJo Prapaisilapa

This is awesome... Recycling old pods for food... I've seen and read about these being used as homes; excited to see it being used in our own city.

cherokeeresident
cherokeeresident

Seems like a very interesting concept and design for a restaurant. I simply wish that new developments on Cherokee -- with this amount of capital, thought, press-attention and enthusiasm behind them -- were not consumer-driven but service-based. This restaurant, like much of the new development on the street, caters to leisure amenities for the middle to upper classes. It's important to remember that this area of the city is still one of the most poverty-stricken south of the North Side. For whom, then, is a restaurant like this for? Additions such as the Empire Cafe -- and all the other eateries, bars, boutiques and cafes now on Cherokee -- would not appear as problematic if they were off-set by just as many necessary civic and infrastructural resources that are otherwise still sadly missing.

Bridget Kelly
Bridget Kelly

Very excited for this - Colleen is an amazing chef!

Chris Clark
Chris Clark

i bet they will serve lots of awesome sauce there

Tony Merklin
Tony Merklin

Question: What ever happened to The Cherokee Cave ????? I've got the Answer.....How many of you can answer this pertinent Question ????? Hmmmmmm................

angeloolegna
angeloolegna

@cherokeeresident Cherokee Street provides both basic and recreational amenities. I don't think you actually live on Cherokee, or else you might have noticed the 2 Mexican grocery stores, Save-A-Lot, Dollar General, a Salvation Army, and 2 furniture rental stores. There is a park and recreational center blocks away. A few churches. There are several corner stores, urban clothing retail shops, and Chinese takeaway. That is all walking distance. If you've got a car you have everything around Grand and Chippewa.

I can get pretty much all of my daily needs within walking distance of my apartment on Cherokee and Texas.  The rest I bike to. I am low income.

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