You never know what you can accomplish until a client gives you a big challenge. That’s exactly what happened when Wheelhouse’s ownership team approached us in April and told us they wanted to have their new downtown restaurant open for business in July. That’s a tall order for three months.

The Wheelhouse guys found a former office space on the first floor of the historic Cupples 8 building, just steps away from Busch Stadium. Stephen Savage and his partners were determined to be an authentic, home-grown restaurant, night club and sports bar that could be the local response to the corporate-y Ballpark Village. The 10,000 square foot Wheelhouse doesn’t have five restaurants and a mechanical bull (thank heavens), but it does have plenty of heart, good food and an established, enthusiastic customer base. Savage’s team enlisted us for design and custom fabrication, ICS Construction to build it, and Mwanzi to provide tables and chairs. The menu is equally local, featuring a variety of homemade favorites and many of St. Louis’ craft beers. We’re suckers for a good David-and-Goliath story, so we got started right away.

The space had to be flexible enough to accommodate downtown workers lunching, massive crowds before and after baseball games, tourist families dining, and after-hours partiers. Cupples 8 is a red brick beauty, so the natural structure was easily incorporated into our design. We kept the decor and finishes to a minimum to accentuate the space’s existing good looks. We situated the new mezzanine on top of the kitchen so all public areas are under Cupples’ soaring brick-and-beam ceilings. The crow’s nest DJ booth is on top of a server station in the main dining area, and it gives the DJ sweeping views of the entire restaurant and adjacent mezzanine.¬†When we finished the space’s design and ICS started¬†the heavy construction, we fabricated the booths and the host stand at the entrance.

Now that the restaurant is open, we’re beginning a second phase that includes fabricating VIP booths for the mezzanine, and draperies that will let the staff create “rooms” for private events, and it will create a cozier appearance during slower periods. The chef’s brother took some amazing shots during their first weekend; we hope you like it as much as we do.