St. Charles, rejoice: Mike Johnson's Sugarfire Smokehouse (9200 Olive Boulevard, Suite 114, Olivette; 314-997-2301) is coming your way in just a few short months. It's one of the best barbecue joints in a city that has no shortage. As first reported by George Mahe at St. Louis Magazine, Sugarfire's second location will be at 3150 Elm Point Industrial Drive.
"This is the ultimate spot that I can go crazy with the design," Johnson tells Gut Check. "[The building] is kind of a '50s curbside drive up, so it'll have more of a '50s kind of a vibe and be a lot funkier."
The building is actually a former Chuck-A-Burger, which was one of the reasons Johnson fell in love with it. The original location is in a pretty run-of-the-mill strip mall, which he says didn't allow him to decorate as "crazy" as he would like.
"I'm working on it with my smokers because the smokers are gonna be outside, huge smokers," he says. "The interior is mostly windows, so its going to be hard to get real crazy. The patio, that's gonna be real crazy. I don't really haven't everything picked out yet, but I do in my mind."
The menu will be the same; Johnson keeps it small to leave room for about ten specials a day. He says he and his chefs like to keep it fresh and be able to work with whatever the farmers show up with.
"We just like to do it like that -- fresh more fun. I don't want to stymie their creativity, so I try and buy cool stuff, and let everyone create cool stuff," Johnson says. He also thinks it's a good location because there's really only fast food -- McDonald's, Burger King -- right there, and he'll be able to give the neighborhood something more hand-crafted.
Johnson estimates a mid-February opening. His chef, Dave Molina, will be a co-owner out there along with Charlie and Carolyn Downs. His two pit guys will rotate between the two locations, so he anticipates hiring and training another.
"I love St. Charles. I can't wait to do something out there," Johnson says. "It's gonna be fun."