Half & Half prepares to open second location in Webster Groves

The restaurant will serve breakfast and lunch—same as the flagship in Clayton.


Original Article By:  George Mahe, St. Louis Magazine

“This is what the brand, five years later, feels like,” says Mike Randolph, looking over the soon-to-open second location of Half & Half [represented by Kevin Shapiro of L3 Corporation], his breakfast, lunch, brunch, and coffee bar in Webster Groves. The restaurant is slated to open by month’s end.

Randolph and his wife, Liz, own the flagship Half & Half in Clayton, as well as Público and Randolfi’s on the Delmar Loop. “When we opened six years ago, the concept was new and untested,” Randolph says. “We were pretty sure that Clayton was ready for a more elevated breakfast experience, but you really never know. We thought we’d do 100 covers all day Sunday, for example. Little did we know we’d do that by 9 a.m.”

The Webster Groves restaurant—located at 220 W. Lockwood Avenue, in the former First Watch—was designed in the wake of a business model that took several years to manifest. The site was especially appealing to the Randolphs because a working kitchen was already in place (“exhaust hood, cheese melter, on-demand hot water heaters, stainless steel on the walls”). Working with a footprint that was considerably larger than in Clayton, SPACE Architecture + Design created a bigger and better  kitchen and prep area (“big enough to handle offsite events without bumping into five people,” says Randolph), and more inside seating (85 seat, rather than 60) while still maintaining “that familiar New England cottage-y feel,” as Randolph puts it.

“From a business standpoint, 85 seats makes more sense,” Randolph adds. “If we were to do more of these, this would become the prototype. This would be our financial flagbearer.”

Bathed in natural light, the 3,700-square-foot space is open and uncluttered. “The original thought was for something light and airy with accent colors on the walls,” Randolph says, “but when we got to the light and airy part, we all agreed that it looked pretty good and we let it be. There’s plenty of color on the tables,” he says of the signature cobalt blue coffee cups and matching napkins.

On a whitewashed wall behind the host stand is a carved wooden spoon, reminiscent of the logo, a gift from SPACE’s Tom Niemeier. “It’s perfect in its simplicity,” Randolph says. “No lettering is necessary.”

The name Half & Half has several connotations: There’s the milk product/coffee additive; the half breakfast/half lunch component; and the fact that it was conceived to be half about the food and half about high-quality coffee, now supplied by premium roaster Blueprint Coffee. (Blueprint’s second location was just announced last week).

“I’ve never understood why so many breakfast places serve below-average coffee,” Randolph says. “We’re fortunate that the guys at Blueprint have our coffee program completely dialed in.”

The espresso machine is a new model from La Marzocco, equipped with a scale that shuts the machine off when the ideal weight of brewed espresso is produced. “That machine is as good as it gets right now,” Randolph says.

The new location includes a walk-up coffee window just inside the breezeway, where you can order a cup while waiting for a table or grab one to go. Randolph explains that there wasn’t anywhere nearby that offered express service, and they didn’t want customers to have to “wade through the masses to get their caffeine fix.” He’s also toying with the idea of selling grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches out of the same window.

Inside the door, white beadboard walls are offset by black wooden chairs and matching lampshade lighting above the bar. There’s a communal counter made of single pieces of dark-stained 200-year-old pine, a species now extinct, according to Randolph.

Above a row of tables, thin strips of natural pine and a rugged central pergola add visual interest.

Mirrors dot several of the walls, and Mason jar lights (pictured above) illuminate the booths. Both are ties to the flagship location.

The menu, overseen by chef de cuisine Dale Beauchamp, is the same as the Clayton store: a mix of breakfast and lunch basics (biscuits and gravy, eggs Benedict three ways, burgers), house favorites (Clara cakes, S’mores French toast), and house specialties (salmon hash, eggs with fried chicken livers).

Randolph says to expect a few new items this fall but not categorical changes. “At Half & Half, we don’t get rid of things that make money or things that people like,” he says. “We look at the diagnostics and then make some decisions. But if it’s making money and is selling well, believe me, it’s staying on the menu.”

For the past several months, the Clayton location has absorbed excessive labor while helping train the Webster crew. “They’ll be more experienced than other opening kitchens,” he says.

Webster Groves has a strong community feel, “very small town-y,” adds Randolph, something that he and his wife will embrace by donating profits from a soft opening party to a Webster-based charity. “We want to be part of all that,” he says. “We don’t want to feel like outsiders.”

The restaurant will have the same hours as the Clayton location: 7 a.m.–2 p.m. Tuesday–Friday and 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Source:  St. Louis Magazine

Kevin Shapiro of L3 Corporation represents Half & Half. L3 Corporation is a leading retail commercial brokerage firm specializing in tenant representation, landlord representation and property acquisition and disposition. Members of L3 Corporation have brought deals to fruition in excess of 35,650,000 square feet spanning over 100 cities throughout the United States and Canada. L3 Corporation is focused exclusively on retail real estate. Contact Kevin Shapiro for more information about this deal or for any of your retail real estate needs.