Since opening in 2008, the Shaved Duck (2900 Virginia Avenue) had been a favorite of both its Tower Grove East neighbors and food writers across the U.S. Guy Fieri even named it Missouri's best barbecue.
But the terrible cold snap that gripped St. Louis around Christmas of 2022 caused a pipe in its building to burst. A restaurant manager walked in to find not only a flood but a collapsed ceiling from all the water damage.
And so it was curtains for the Shaved Duck — until now.
Recently, word began to spread among neighbors and barbecue lovers: The Shaved Duck is back. And for once, the rumors are true — the restaurant quietly opened its doors in November, with new owners and a fresh look.
It's one reason Heredia jumped when the restaurant's longtime owner, Ally Nisbet (also known for the Scottish Arms) was ready to sell. "Ally is a good friend of mine," he says. "Sometimes in the restaurant business, you've just got to move on."
That's one reason, Heredia explains, that the restaurant kept its soft opening so damn soft. After nearly a year of being totally closed, with a largely new staff to train, the owners wanted to get everything up to par before diners beyond the eatery's superfan base stopped by for a meal. He finally thinks they're there.
There is one small hiccup, though, and that is the city's onerous process for new liquor licenses. They still don't have one, despite hiring someone to shepherd them through the various hurdles laid down by city ordinance. Heredia is hopeful it will be just a few more months at the most. And in the meantime, he hopes people will support their efforts by ordering takeout or delivery if they really want a drink with their barbecue.
He says, "We tried to go BYOB for now, but you have to go through all the same stops as your regular liquor license, so this will just be one of those things that'll keep us pushing our food for now. It's a little wrench, but not a big wrench."
And even stone cold sober, the diners who've tried the new Shaved Duck seem stoked. Heredia says the feedback lately has been great, and he's thrilled to bring a local landmark back to its many fans.
"It's a St. Louis institution, and it belongs to St. Louis," he says. "We just want to keep it going and keep that tradition alive. It's amazing how many people are coming from not just St. Louis but all over the country, even now, people from all over are coming to the Shaved Duck."
For now, hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, though the restaurant sometimes closes early on slow days. They hope to expand to seven days a week and bring back brunch in the coming months, probably dependent on that liquor license. Says Heredia in a note of understatement, "St. Louis likes to drink."
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