James Beard Award Winner Gerard Craft Joins City Foundry STL Project as Culinary Director

City Foundry STL announces today that Niche Food Group, James Beard winner Gerard Craft’s restaurant team, will serve as the culinary director and consultant for the upcoming food hall and public market space of the mixed-use development. Located on Forest Park Avenue between Vandeventer and Spring Street, City Foundry STL will also include additional restaurants, shops, entertainment, office space and more.

City Foundry STL will be a new community destination in St. Louis, connecting the city’s top cultural destinations and innovation community, a selling point that attracted Craft to the project. He states, “We think that City Foundry is such an important puzzle piece to connect the city together. From downtown and Midtown to the Central West End and Cortex, City Foundry has the opportunity to bring all of those communities together. We see so much potential with the project that we wanted to be a part of making it succeed.”

Chef Craft and his team join the anticipated project to further define the food hall experience, which has plans to expand to include a public market. Niche Food Group will help to craft the tenant mix as well as manage at least one or two concepts within the City Foundry STL public market space.

He explains, “First of all, the bones of the building are so cool so the space already tells a story, but we see an opportunity to paint a bigger picture about all the things that touch the restaurant world. Food halls in the U.S. have traditionally been solely focused on the consumption of food, but we have a collective vision for City Foundry STL to be seen as more than a food hall, but also as a public market, a place that supports food-focused entrepreneurs. In addition to emerging restaurant concepts, we want to celebrate the people who have helped connect us to food — the farmers and butcher suppliers, the potter who makes restaurants’ plates, or maybe even a cookbook stand or teaching kitchen that inspire chefs.”

For the City Foundry STL team, Niche Food Group’s involvement fosters an authentic connection to the hospitality industry. City Foundry STL Asset Manager Will Smith explains, “As developers, we want to create a place for the St. Louis restaurant community, but we are not restauranteurs. With Niche Food Group’s partnership, we now have input and counsel from leaders in the hospitality industry. Gerard and his team can be an advocate for our tenants needs as well as solidify our vision for the public market at City Foundry STL. Niche Food Group can speak from both sides of the aisle.”

With COVID-19, business models of restaurants and industry-adjacent businesses have changed dramatically. The collective City Foundry STL team sees the public market as an opportunity to give local chefs, restaurateurs, makers, artisans and more a platform to rebuild. “Our local hospitality industry defines the current culture and uniqueness of our city. It’s also the most vulnerable during this time. Our hope is that City Foundry can be a place for ideas to incubate and grow into a viable business; a place where new concepts will be surrounded by industry leaders to learn from and succeed,” says Smith.

City Foundry STL continues to progress on construction of the overall development. An opening timeline will be determined at a later date, based on recommendations from health officials as well as the comfort level of future customers. Smith says, “We are rethinking what the dining and shopping experience could look like for the foreseeable future. We won’t open the doors until we have clarity on a safe and manageable way to do that.”

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