With construction of the Gateway Arch grounds nearing completion, a 125-year-old building on the adjacent Laclede’s Landing is currently undergoing its own dramatic $3 million renovation. Taking its name from its prime location at 612 N. 2nd Street, the six-level, 50,000-square-foot building is undergoing a total makeover inside and out to create a unique dining and special event venue that will be highlighted by innovative cuisine, historical features and unmatched views over the newly transformed Arch grounds and The Riverfront.
Initially purchased in 2006 by Munsok So, owner of the popular Drunken Fish restaurants in St. Louis and Kansas City, the ground floor of the building previously housed the third Drunken Fish location in the city. As the newly renovated Arch grounds began to take shape across the street, So recalibrated his initial concept for the building and went all-in on renovations to create a one-of-a-kind venue aimed at meeting the varied needs of local residents and the expanded number of visitors expected on the Arch Grounds in the coming years.
“Munsok’s decision to transform the entire building with several unique offerings will make it a destination in itself,” said John Clark, president of the Laclede’s Landing Community Improvement District. “It’s going to be a terrific addition and great complement to the various other offerings already here on The Landing.”
Making use of the building’s exceptional location, So began with a gut rehab of the fifth and top floor, transforming it over the past seven months into an event venue called VUE. With its $1 million investment, VUE is a stunning event space with new floor to ceiling windows overlooking the renovated Arch Grounds, the Mississippi River and the historic Eads Bridge, with additional views of the St. Louis skyline. Featuring original brick walls and contemporary finishes and fixtures, the 8,000-square-foot space will feature a brand new commercial kitchen serving up creative menu options; seating for 325 guests, and all new restrooms. Bringing the ultimate modern meets history vibe, VUE will serve as the perfect backdrop for weddings, corporate or charitable events and private parties and is expected to open this December.
The first floor will host three separate offerings to be rolled out over the next several months, starting with Kimchi Guys. After debuting several of their planned menu items at recent local food festivals and receiving rave reviews, Kimchi Guys will introduce fast-casual Korean food to the area, including Korean fried chicken, a totally new concept for St. Louis. The Korean fusion restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, serving up dishes such as Korean Tacos, Korean sandwiches, Korean BBQ rice bowls and more, as well as a selection of cocktails.
Sharing the first-floor space, Miss Java will become the first official coffee shop on The Landing, providing an early option for breakfast seven days a week and staying open until 9 p.m. With menu items ranging from Belgian waffles to classic sandwiches and specialty coffees, and plans brewing to debut their own home-roasted coffee, Miss Java will offer St. Louisans working on The Landing and tourists rediscovering The Riverfront a charming option to satisfy their taste buds.
The remaining portion of the first floor will be occupied by KOR. A smaller and more intimate event space, KOR will comfortably seat 125 inside as well as offer an outdoor patio area with an additional 10 tables overlooking the river. With food catered by the state-of-the-art kitchen serving VUE, this venue will be ideal for corporate gatherings or any range of private parties, from bridal and baby showers to anniversary gatherings.
The project also includes an overhaul of the lower level of the building. Highlighted by expanses of the original exposed brick and historic stone arches, this underground space oozes old world charm and will be transformed into an additional venue for weddings and private parties. It should be completed in first quarter of 2018.
While the fourth floor will serve as the corporate office for Drunken Fish, the second and third floors are currently being renovated to serve as office spaces that will be available for rent upon completion in 2018.
“I hope that what we are doing here brings value to the community and to the city of St. Louis,” stated So. “I believe that others can see the success of this and bring increased interest back to the Landing. We are extremely excited about what this represents.”
Laclede’s Landing is downtown St. Louis’ oldest district and only riverfront entertainment/dining destination. The nine-block area features unique restaurants, bars, and nightclubs as well as a variety of retail shops, attractions, and businesses. Just steps away from the Gateway Arch, Laclede’s Landing offers a historical experience with charming cobblestone streets and century-old buildings overlooking the mighty Mississippi River.