Franco to Open Nico in the Delmar Loop [Updated]

The mystery of who will take over the late Brandt's Cafe spot at 6525 Delmar Boulevard in University City apparently has been answered. Just this hour Franco (1535 South Eighth Street, 314-436-2500) announced via Twitter that it will open a new restaurant called Nico in the Delmar Loop:

We're working to get in touch with Franco owner Tom Schmidt. More as I learn it.

Update: (Wednesday, September 7, 4:30 p.m.) "I was born and raised in University City and grew up in the Loop," Tom Schmidt said when I spoke to him this afternoon. "As soon as [the Brandt's] space became available, I got excited."

Franco, which opened in Soulard in late 2006 and was honored as Riverfront Times' "Best New Restaurant" in 2007, was named after Schmidt's nephew. Nico takes its name from Franco's younger brother. That sibling relationship is "mirrored in the concept" of the new restaurant, explains Schmidt.

Like Franco, Nico will feature "French-rooted food," Schmidt says, "[but] more approachable, more accessible," with entrées likely priced closer to $15 than Franco's usual $20-plus price tag.

Franco executive chef Chris Williams will also oversee the kitchen at Nico, which Schmidt hopes to have open by early winter.
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