Kemoll’s owner calls move from downtown a difficult but necessary decision

ST. LOUIS – Kemoll’s, one of St. Louis’ longtime staple restaurants, is leaving its spot atop the Met Building downtown on January 31.

After calling St. Louis City its home for over 90 years, the downtown landmark is rebranding itself and moving into a spot in Westport Plaza.

“In the last few years they have really done some tremendous things,” said owner Mark Cusumano. “I mean, if you go in there on a Monday night there’s like 500 people in there.”

Cusumano said it was a difficult decision to leave, especially the Metropolitan Square, which for 30 years gave diners one of the best views of the Mississippi River and the Gateway Arch to accompany their meal.

But Cusumano adds, his age, managing 20,000 square-feet–and maybe even his mom–played a big factor.

“I told my mother, ‘I’m 67-years-old. I can’t be opening a new restaurant,’” Cusumano said. “She said, ‘Colonel Sanders opened Kentucky Fried Chicken when he was 65-years-old,’ so I have to be quiet now.”

The new spot will be more of a steak and chop house while retaining about ten of the iconic restaurant’s most popular Italian dishes.

Some longtime customers said they’re a bit disappointed to see it go.

“It’s bad all the way around for downtown to lose another restaurant,” said Renee McDonnell, who was taste testing for an upcoming company holiday party. “But it’s good for Westport to get something positive.”

But because she considers herself a loyal diner, she said she will follow.

“I love Westport and I love Kemoll’s,” McDonnell said.

“For 60 years, they followed us down on Grand Avenue,” said Cusumano. “And for 30 years they followed us here, so as long as we do a good job, they will follow us.”

Cusumano said he expects to have the new location opened in the first week of February.