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Friday, June 17, 2011

Jim Fiala Goes Smaller to Reap Bigger Rewards

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge The Terrace View, one of Jim Fiala's four restaurants in St. Louis - JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Jennifer Silverberg
  • The Terrace View, one of Jim Fiala's four restaurants in St. Louis
Jim Fiala recently came to a conclusion about his four restaurants: "Life's too short to worry about feeding so many people."

Fret not, Fiala fans. The chef isn't closing the Crossing (7823 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-721-7375), Liluma (238 North Euclid Avenue; 314-361-7771), Acero (7266 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-644-1790) or the Terrace View (808 Chestnut Street; 314-436-8855).

What Fiala has done is remove a total of 120 seats from his restaurants. This isn't about leg room.

Fiala says the smaller occupancies reflect the realities of the St. Louis restaurant scene: "There's no business traffic. We're cooking for the locals mostly."

Obviously, planning for fewer diners helps a restaurant's bottom line, but to Fiala's way of thinking, the food benefits, too. "It's really helped the quality and the consistency," he explains. "That's been good to us."

As Gut Check reported Thursday, Fiala's Terrace View recently parted company with chef Jonathan Olson. This is the latest chef shuffle for Fiala, who recently named Matt Abeshouse, formerly of Franco, to head the Crossing's kitchen.

"He looks like an awesome fit there," Fiala says. "He's really been encouraging me to continue [exploring] my French roots. I lean a little more to Italian than French."

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