A once-popular restaurant location in De Soto is preparing to spring back to life.
The owners of Cafe Telegraph SmokeShack in south St. Louis County have purchased the old Off the Hook restaurant site at 12636 Hwy. 21 and plan to open a new restaurant there in the first quarter of 2020.
Co-owner Bill Cieslinski said the ownership group closed on the purchase of the site, from Ronald Orchard, on Oct. 31. The new eatery, Cafe Smok N Pi, will offer a wide range of family-style food in a “fast casual” atmosphere.
“February or March will be great but we have some renovations to do in order for us to put (out) high-quality food,” Cieslinski said. “The sooner the better for us as owners. Remodeling should start Nov. 1 and should last 100-150 days.”
Cafe Smok N Pi will feature an “Ole Hickory smoke house” offering pork steaks up to 3 pounds and brick pizza ovens producing hand-tossed St. Louis-style thin-crust pizza with fresh dough.
(“We’ll) be serving high-quality, large-portion meals,” Cieslinski said. “Our customers will be able to get quality food quickly straight from our smoke shack. We will cook to order on specialty sandwiches, burgers and pizzas.”
The daily specials, he added, will include pulled pork, smoked hamburger, smoked meatloaf, smoked chicken breasts, smoked shaved top sirloin and homemade smoked pineapple bratwurst. Among the side items will be baked beans, coleslaw, baked potatoes, macaroni and cheese, salads, white and red cavatelli, chicken alfredo and homemade applesauce.
Business hours will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Cieslinski said they anticipate hiring 30 employees.
Off the Hook closed in early 2018. The building, 14 years old, will get a complete makeover inside.
“We will be remodeling the entire interior to give it our Cafe Deep Woods look,” he said.
Cieslinski and his wife, Christina, have co-owned Cafe Telegraph, 2650 Telegraph Road, just west of Jefferson Barracks Park, for seven years with Matt and Sue Schweiss.
“Our outstanding staff has allowed us to expand multiple times,” Cieslinski said. “We pride ourselves on food quality, service and cleanliness. Our recipes and food quality set us apart from almost everyone. We love providing high-quality food (and) large portions with a smile.”
He added that the ownership group believes De Soto and Jefferson County are growing and primed for their kind of restaurant.
“We love the area and want to invest in the community,” he said. “We want to be part of the growth. We are so excited to be in Jefferson County and specifically De Soto. We know the surrounding areas and know our business can prosper. We believe everyone will enjoy our homemade soups, salads, sauces, pizzas and barbecue.”
De Soto City Manager Todd Melkus, who met the owners Nov. 1 in conjunction with the city’s building inspection, said he had hoped new entrepreneurs could revive the restaurant site and that the Cafe Smok N Pi will be a great addition to the community’s dining-out offerings.
“As soon as we first started hearing that they were purchasing (the building) I received a number of calls from other residents and business owners (in) the county that gave the Cieslinskis very high praise on the quality of food and service they offer and their reputation (for) being a community-focused establishment,” Melkus said. “This establishment will not only be great for our local community but will be a draw to residents throughout the county.
“You always want your residents to have a lot of great food options in their local community to be able to choose from, for a nice meal, and I think this will obviously be a great addition.”