New Owner Seeks the Original Spirit of Arcelia's

click to enlarge Inside Arcelia's (before the rehab) - Laura Ann Miller
Laura Ann Miller
Inside Arcelia's (before the rehab)
Pat Shelton loved Arcelia's so much she decided to buy the building.

The Mexican restaurant closed at the end of last year after a twenty-year run, first in Soulard, then at 2001 Park Avenue in Lafayette Square. Shelton and her husband acquired the building this summer and plan to reopen it as Arcelia's -- after a thorough rehab.

"I loved it," Shelton says of the original restaurant. "I had a passion for it. It's just a great environment. It's great food. The people are fantastic."

Shelton isn't merely bringing back the Arcelia's name. The family recipes will return, too: Kim Reid, the granddaughter of the restaurant's late founder, Arcelia Sanchez, has agreed to head the kitchen.

"We're slowly building our team," says Shelton, who adds that several other former Arcelia's employees are likely to return.

Though Shelton originally hoped to open by Labor Day, rehabbing the building has taken longer than expected. (Look for a fall opening.) She tells Gut Check that both the City of St. Louis and the neighborhood's historical society have been very supportive and are providing guidance.

For some, it seems, Arcelia's return can't come soon enough.

"People over and over again knock on the door [to ask] 'Are you open yet?'" Shelton says. "The energy is fantastic. I picked up on it -- I get a great feeling about this, that it will be successful."