Sneak Peek: The Armory St. Louis Combines Local Eats and Indoor Fun

The massive new entertainment complex will feature a menu of St. Louis favorites

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click to enlarge The All American Burger, featuring two burger patties, two types of cheese, cherry pepper relish and mustard sauce, is one of the menu items at the forthcoming Armory St. Louis.
Courtesy of the Armory St. Louis
The All American Burger — featuring two burger patties, two types of cheese, cherry pepper relish and mustard sauce — is one of the menu items at the forthcoming Armory St. Louis.

On December 16, the reimagined Armory St. Louis will open to the public, promising a multi-faceted entertainment experience unlike anything the area has seen. The culmination of a six-year redevelopment effort, the new Armory will be the largest indoor entertainment attraction in St. Louis, boasting 250,000 square feet of indoor space for recreation, live music, one of the largest video screens in the city, and the St. Louis Tennis Hall of fame, making it the place in town to gather and play.

And it will have a culinary program to match.

"When I was approached by [Armory developer] Jake Miller, he was telling me about the venue, the games, the state-of-the-art televisions, and then he said something that really hit home: He wanted to make this St. Louis," says St. Louis Armory executive chef Brandon Powell. "We talked about the menu and how we could make things that are not overly complicated, but things that involve the highest quality ingredients made the right way. We also wanted to tie in to the area by making local brands a part of what we do. From there, we just worked it through and know that we want to execute at a level that we can make sure we deliver for St. Louis like we know St. Louis will deliver for us."

click to enlarge The Armory is a 250,000 square foot recreation and entertainment venue.
Rendering Courtesy of the Armory St. Louis
The Armory is a 250,000 square foot recreation and entertainment venue.

A St. Louis native, Powell comes to the Armory following an 18-year career with Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in the Los Angeles area and Maestro's Steakhouse in Beverly Hills. Though he'd tossed around the idea of coming back home to be closer to his family, he was determined to do so only for the right opportunity. That came calling in the form of Miller's job offer to lead the culinary operations for the Armory, which will consist of both a fast-casual, order-from-phone component for drop-in patrons, as well as an immense catering outfit that will be able to accommodate up to 600 guests.

Powell is up for the challenge and is excited to show that high-quality, from-scratch cooking can be done on such a large scale. With the exception of bread and french fries, everything will be cooked in house, and he is especially proud of how well he has been able to incorporate beloved local brands into the Armory's food offerings. Icons such as Pappy's barbecue sauces and coleslaw, G&W Sausage and Meats bratwursts, Louisa's toasted ravioli and City Scoops ice cream will all be found on the venue's menu.

As much as he and his team have focused on the quality of the food they are serving, Powell has put equal emphasis on the diner's experience. This includes a seamless ordering and delivery process whereby guests order from their phones and pick up at a window when alerted. Powell is also mindful that the Armory is, first and foremost, a recreation space, so he has designed menu items to be easy to handle for those walking around and using the venue's facilities.

click to enlarge Toasted Ravioli Nachos use Louisa's t-ravs.
Courtesy of the Armory St. Louis
Toasted Ravioli Nachos use Louisa's t-ravs.

"We want people to be able to participate in what we are offering around the venue, so we've made things easy to pick up and enjoy," Powell says. "You can pick up your plate, take a bite of your food and carry it with you. We want people to be able to play and interact with the games."

As for those games, the Armory's Director of Marketing Ali Lamb notes that the space contains over three football fields' worth of recreation activities, such as cornhole, horseshoes, badminton and putting greens — low-key, fun entertainment options that are meant to mimic the feel of a house party.

"What we love about this venue is that it is a place to play, gather and relax," says Lamb. "We talk extensively about this being like a living room or a house party. You take that kind of vibe, but multiply it by a thousand."

click to enlarge The Armory Burger features smoked bacon, white cheddar and mozzarella mac and cheese bites and bacon bourbon jam. - Courtesy of the Armory St. Louis
Courtesy of the Armory St. Louis
The Armory Burger features smoked bacon, white cheddar and mozzarella mac and cheese bites and bacon bourbon jam.

Like Powell, Lamb is excited not only for the Armory itself, but for the buzz it's generating around the entire Midtown corridor. Coupled with City Foundry, CITY Park and several other developments in the area, she believes the area is primed to be a top destination for the entire region — and she and her colleagues are happy that the Armory is a piece of that puzzle.

"We felt that what Midtown needed, first and foremost, was an entertainment hub that will drive traffic," says Lamb. "St. Louisans need a place to play, gather and enjoy in the Midtown area, and I feel like we've accomplished that with this. I can't wait to stand on the rooftop of the Armory three to five years from now and see what the area looks like."

Scroll down for more photos of the Armory's forthcoming food and drink offerings.
click to enlarge Loaded fries. - Courtesy of the Armory St. Louis
Courtesy of the Armory St. Louis
Loaded fries.

click to enlarge The El Jefe is made with Hornitos Reposado, jalapeno simple syrup and grapefruit soda. - Courtesy of the Armory St. Louis
Courtesy of the Armory St. Louis
The El Jefe is made with Hornitos Reposado, jalapeno simple syrup and grapefruit soda.
click to enlarge Sandwich offerings are designed to be easy to handle while playing the games. - Courtesy of the Armory St. Louis
Courtesy of the Armory St. Louis
Sandwich offerings are designed to be easy to handle while playing the games.
click to enlarge Loaded nachos. - Courtesy of the Armory St. Louis
Courtesy of the Armory St. Louis
Loaded nachos.
click to enlarge A burger with bacon and an fried egg. - Courtesy of the Armory St. Louis
Courtesy of the Armory St. Louis
A burger with bacon and an fried egg.


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About The Author

Cheryl Baehr

Cheryl Baehr is the dining editor and restaurant critic for the Riverfront Times and an international woman of mystery. Follow her on the socials at @cherylabaehr
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