> Gerard Craft owner of Niche Restaurant, is expanding into the Central West End with Brasserie by Niche, a casual restaurant that is set to serve traditional French bistro fare. The Brasserie will open this month at 4580 Laclede Ave., where the venerable Chez Léon once stood. “I love the storefront facade that opens up in spring and summer,” Craft enthuses. As the place where Craft proposed to wife Suzie (and where they held their rehearsal dinner), the spot has some important personal history. Expect French desserts by Niche pastry chef Mathew Rice.
> The Wedge is back open under the management of Marissa Boyland and will be serving sandwiches now (instead of pizza). It’s located at 442 Bates St. in the Carondelet neighborhood.
> Look for another Drunken Fish opening in Kansas City, Mo. “This will be the first sushi restaurant on restaurant row in the Power & Light District,” says owner Munsok So. So opened his first location in May of 2003 at Wesport Plaza and the CWE location in May 2004. Expect a January 2010 opening. So also owns Ice Kitchen at Westport Plaza.
> Eleven Eleven Mississippi and Vin de Set Rooftop Bar and Bistro are offering ‘Pink Plate Specials’ throughout October in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month. A portion of those sales will be donated to Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. Last year the restaurants raised $1,924 in a similar effort, and the goal this year is to net a 10 percent increase. “Offering Pink Plate Specials in our restaurants is a way for us to do our part in the fight against breast cancer and support a program that is invaluable to our community,” comments owner Wendy Hamilton.
> In another Breast Cancer Awareness initiative, the pink ribbon bagel has returned to Saint Louis Bread Co. Made with cherry chips, honey, brown sugar and dried cherries and cranberries, the ribbon-shaped bagels are not only tasty but benefit breast cancer research. A portion of their sales will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
> Since the school year started a few weeks ago at Lift For Life Academy, students have enjoyed gourmet breakfasts and lunches, made fresh each day by the charter school’s own ‘Chef Kenny’ Hayden Jr. Located in Soulard, the nonprofit serves students in grades six through 10, with plans to expand through 12th grade by 2011. “We’re actually saving money on our breakfast and lunch programs,” notes Marshall Cohen, Academy executive director and founder. “In past years, we purchased a lot of prepared meals, which were faster to serve, but costlier to buy. With Chef Kenny on staff, we’re buying fresh ingredients and he’s turning them into healthy, delicious meals.We aren’t just responsible for teaching these kids academics, we need to teach them how to eat for healthy lives.”