Well Met Café now open in the Shaw neighborhood

Well Met Cafe, a breakfast, lunch, and early dinner neighborhood restaurant at 4100 Shenandoah, opened softly earlier this week. “After eight months of paper-covered windows, the neighbors were ready,” says executive chef Dan Sammons. “And so were we.”

The café is owned by three familiar local restaurateurs: Brian Schmitz and Jonathan Schoen, along with beverage director Travis Hebrank, owners of Be Polite Hospitality, which operates Polite Society and The Bellwether, as well as two kitchens at City Foundry STL, Sub Division Sandwich Co. and Intergalactic Burgers.

Here’s what to know before you go.

The Concept

Schmitz has described the 700-square-foot space, previously inhabited by furniture refurbisher The Future Ancestor, as “a feel-good little gem of a corner spot with a ton of natural light that looks like it should be a neighborhood café.”

To match the vibe, the partners dubbed the café Well Met, a shortened form of the British idiom “hail fellow well met.” (The phrase “hail fellow” was a traditional British greeting, and “well met” was later added to emphasize the friendliness, as if to say “happy to meet you.”) If it connotes hospitality, that’s the intent, Schmitz says.

The space seats 20, plus a patio with five two-top tables. An L-shaped banquette, installed along two walls, is equipped with enough outlets to power a schoolroom’s worth of laptops. Beneath a white tin ceiling and matching moulding, walls are painted a rich, royal blue. Grandma would be jealous of the array of succulents that occupy a large double window. Natural light floods the room.

It’s a place where customers could while away an hour while nursing a Goshen Coffee and a build-your-own breakfast sandwich, though the owners also anticipate Well Met doing a brisk pickup business, given its residential location.

The easy-to-remember hours are “7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week,” Schmitz says.

The Menu

The inaugural bill of fare lists eight paninis and five salads, all named after characters from history, literature, cinema, and television. Caesar Augustus and The Little Prince, for instance, share menu space with Ron Swanson, Liz Lemon, Lois Lane, and Porky Pig. The same menu is available all day long, so guests can tuck into a Vito Corleone (salami, pepperoni, coppa, mozzarella, onion, pepperoncini salad, and Italian dressing) for breakfast if they’re so inclined.

A cold case will be stocked with a selection of prepared dishes from Polite Society, as well as to-go meal components, including deviled eggs and items such as osso buco, polenta, plus vegetables, sides, and deli salads, so customers can customize their own meal, “a suggestion from the neighbors,” Sammons says. Rotating blue plate-type specials may become part of the pickup menu mix as well, with a different entrée meal featured each night. And Sammons smiles as he muses about preparing mini-charcuterie plates that he describes as “adult Lunchables.”

Also being discussed is the idea of deposit-and-return picnic baskets, because Tower Grove Park is only a few blocks away. Schmitz envisions customers picking up an assortment of food and a bottle of wine, beers, or even a cocktail, noting that the inaugural list will be “super basic” (Bloody Marys, mimosas, etc.) with specialty cocktails slowly being added in the coming weeks.

“We’ll be responsive to what our customers want,” Schmitz says. “There’s a lot of things we plan to try in the first month just to take the pulse, but since the kitchen is the size of a ship’s galley, we can’t take on too much too soon.”

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