By Lisa Lance
For an event with true St. Louis tradition, reserve space at a J.Buck’s restaurant. Incorporating the broadcasting tradition of the St. Louis Buck family into a classic American venue, the first J.Buck’s opened in 1999 in Clayton. The venture was the product of a partnership between restaurateur Ted Geiger and the Buck family, and is named after Jack, Joe and Julie Buck.
Walk into the new J.Buck’s restaurant in downtown St. Louis and you’re surrounded by urban design. With its enormous windows, exposed brick and industrial elements, the space mirrors the style of the downtown lofts. It’s housed in a 110-year-old building, where much of the original wood flooring and ceiling beams remain. The space is casual, but with a touch of elegance that makes it appropriate for almost any occasion.
The space has a “big open feel,” said Mark Hinkle, general manager of the downtown restaurant, “but a different feel in different rooms.” The total inside capacity of the restaurant is 300, which includes a private room that can hold a party of 50 or be split to hold two parties of 25, and a semi-private area that can hold up to 100.
There is also a rooftop patio, which can accommodate up to 100 guests, with a view of Busch Stadium and the Gateway Arch. The rooftop space has a $300 rental fee, Hinkle said.
Downtown St. Louis is one of six current J.Buck’s locations; the others are in Clayton, Des Peres, O’Fallon, MO, Fairview Heights, IL and Springfield, MO. A seventh restaurant in Bloomington, IL will open soon. J.Buck’s strives for a warm, casual environment with a great bar, and each location features different event spaces. “We will rent out the entire restaurant or parts of the restaurant,” said Mandi Boehringer, partner. The pricing for each space varies, depending on the day and size of the event.
If you’re planning an event in suburban St. Louis, the Clayton location has two meeting rooms, each holding up to 16 occupants, and one cocktail lounge that can hold 20 to 40 depending on the event. For more intimate get-togethers, the Des Peres location has one meeting space that can hold up to 10 guests.
The O’Fallon restaurant has two meeting spaces. For smaller events, the two rooms can accommodate 16 and 25 people separately, or can be opened up to hold 40 to 50 people total. This location also boasts a private patio area that can be tented for wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners and other events.
The Springfield location also has two meeting rooms. For cozy gatherings, the first holds up to nine guests, while the second can accommodate up to 20. This restaurant also offers a covered patio area.
Across the Mississippi river in Illinois, the Fairview Heights J.Buck’s offers a private room for 20 to 24 guests and a semi-private area for up to 80 people.
J.Buck’s has served as a backdrop for a wide variety of special occasions. Boehringer said events have included car dealership roll-out parties, grand openings, weddings and parties for celebrities such as Nelly and Marshall Faulk.
“There was nothing I didn’t like,” said Cindy Thompson, executive assistant and team leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, about her experience working with the J.Buck’s staff. She planned a dinner for 13 people and a reception for 25 at the downtown St. Louis location. She complimented the space and said the restaurant had excellent food.
“We are happy to work within budget requirements,” said Boehringer. “We can do traditional J.Buck’s food or something can be ordered off the catering menu.” J.Buck’s specializes in classic American cuisine. The regular menu features a variety of salads, stone fired pizzas, sandwiches and the “Jack’s House Burger.” Specialties include a roasted half chicken, barbecue baby back ribs and filet mignon. Prices range from $8.99 to $10.99 for pizza or a sandwich to $15.99to $25.99 for an entrée.
“We’re really open to whatever the guest would like,” said Hinkle. “If it’s something we can do, we’re happy to give it a whirl.” He can do a limited special menu for an event, or serve buffet-style, if that is what the event requires. Appetizers can be pre-ordered and prices range from $9.99 to $39.99. The pre-order menu include pizzas, dips and items by the dozen such as soy cured chicken on fried won tons, shrimp cocktail, barbecue baby back riblettes and beef rib-eye finger sandwiches.
If you already have a venue in mind but love J.Buck’s food, consider using its catering services. Boehringer said all restaurant locations can do full service outside catering. “In some markets we already have partnerships with various banquet rooms for our catering to be brought in,” she said. “The St. Charles Parks Department offers several parks as event places and we are highly suited and capable of catering those events – whether it is a barbecue or a wedding.”
The catering menu includes “break time” packages, which include snacks or breakfast items with drinks ($6.99-$8.99 per person), hors d’oeuvres packages ($16.99-$20.99), hors d’oeuvres available by the dozen ($16.99-$24.99), continental breakfast buffets ($8.99-$9.99), boxed lunches or entrée salads ($8.99 each) and buffet platters and backyard barbecue buffets for 25 people or more ($12.99-$20.99 per person). Entrees such as roasted pork loin with apple-walnut cream sauce or grilled filet mignon and shrimp scampi with parmesan pesto sauce are also available, and range in price from $14.99 to $31.99 per person. There is a $25 minimum delivery and set-up fee for J. Buck’s catering, and service is charged at $25 per hour per server.
But for the true J.Buck’s experience, plan your event in one of the restaurants. “They have fantastic group space,” said Amy Gwin, Director of Agency Relations at Rodgers Townsend. Gwin said the J.Buck’s downtown restaurant has catered several meetings for the advertising agency, and it has hosted several happy hours at the downtown restaurant, and a party in the restaurant’s rooftop space. “It was an incredible night and a great spot,” she said. MM&E
(Lisa Lance is a contributor from St. Louis, Mo.)