The Shack offers new cuisine in familar spot


John Schler/Photo Editor

Anyone looking for a fresh Midtown hangout need go no further than The Shack Pubgrub, the newest pub and grill in the Saint Louis University area.

John Schler/Photo Editor

The Shack is the fourth restaurant of co-owners Brant Baldanza and Justin Haifley, and is located at 3818 Laclede Ave., the former home of Pierre Laclede’s Pub and Eatery.

The new establishment’s main focus is their food, according to Joe Tomasi, one of The Shack’s managers.

“There’s a lot of a pub and grills around that [have] all their fries and their appetizers…frozen and dropped in a fryer,” said Tomasi. “We kind of wanted to do something different than that.”

The aim was to “do more stuff in house,” said Tomasi. “We grind our own burger meat, cut our own fries. We don’t even really have a freezer.”

The Shack has a unique menu with items like the “Green Eggs N Ham,” which is boardwalk fries covered with fried egg, diced ham, creamed spinach and green onion; or the “Cool Ranch,” which is chicken tacos made with cool ranch Doritos.

The varied menu is the result of a collaboration between Haifley and the chef at Corner Pub, one of the owners’ other restaurants. Their selection is meant to take the usual pub food and give it what the restaurant likes to call a “chef-driven twist.”

Focuses of the menu include wedges, boardwalk fries, smash burgers and the Shack-Which—the customer has a choice of meat to put in a sandwich filled with fries, coleslaw, tomato and provolone. Most meals are available for $7 or less.

That’s not to take away from the rather extensive drink menu. Many beers are available on tap, including favorite local breweries such as Schlafly, Shock Top and Budweiser. There is also a house margarita, mixed drinks, glass wine and nightly specials available every week night.

Of particular interest to the football crowd might be the “Sunday Fun-day,” offering every NFL game available and $15 buckets of the Budweiser canon.

The concept of The Shack began around October of last year, when Baldanza and Haifley visited Chicago and were inspired to craft a restaurant that had “the pub and grill vibe with an urban flair,” said Tomasi.

“We liked the idea of doing something a little more, around a college campus but still with a lot of businesses around so we could get a good mix of a lot of people,” Tomasi said concerning their location.

Construction started in June, and The Shack held its grand opening on September 7.

The Shack has no intention of replacing Laclede’s, a past staple of the SLU nightlife. Rather they hope to build a strong but different relationship with students.

“We heard stories before of what this place was,” said Tomasi. “We just kind of wanted to get away from that.”

The difference in the environment they want to create is made clear on their menu, where “we card hard” is stated in bold.

The owners don’t think that this should hurt their relationship with the student body; their aim is to make sure everyone can come in to their restaurant and feel at home.

“We wanted to take a cool old building like this and fix it up and make it look good and hope that SLU students would be appreciative of that, which I think they have been so far,” said Tomasi. “We are trying to get in really good with the students.”

SLU’s club hockey team and rugby team are already sponsored by the restaurant. They’re also working with the John Cook School of Business and are going to be a part of Greek Olymipics, the yearly fraternity and sorority event hosted by SLU’s Greek life.

According to Tomasi, there are also plans to have live music every Friday, as well as karaoke, dollar burger nights and trivia.

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